K-State Research and Extension News
Each week, K-State Research and Extension wildlife specialist Charlie Lee joins Eric Atkinson, agriculture director for the K-State Radio Network, to discuss a wide variety of wildlife issues of interest to farmers, ranchers, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts of all kinds.
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- 9/1/2015
There’s been a push in recent years to discourage the use of lead shot in upland game bird hunting, over concerns about toxicity to wildlife.  One non-toxic alternative to lead ammunition is steel shot.  And a recent study in Texas compared the performance of steel shot to lead shot in actual, in-field dove hunting.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reports on the findings.

- 8/24/2015
The proposed Waters of the United States rule put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency is seen by many agricultural producers and landowners as government overreach.  Regardless of the politics of this issue, the value of wetlands should not be lost in the debate.  That’s according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee, who talks more about that this week.

- 8/17/2015
It’s not uncommon for bats to invade attics and other structures as they seek a safe place to roost.  Preventing their entry in the first place is the first control consideration, according to wildlife specialist Charlie Lee of K-State.  If physical bat removal becomes necessary, however, one needs to properly protect themselves from exposure to disease, which Charlie covers this week.  

Agricultural producers and others who routinely use glyphosate for weed control should take note:  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now evaluating the impact of glyphosate use on a rapidly-declining endangered species…the monarch butterfly.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee looks at the issue at hand and the review process underway that may well determine the availability of glyphosate as a weed control option in the future.

- 8/3/2015
Conditions so far this summer have been ripe for fish kills in farm ponds.  Lack of available oxygen in the water is the culprit, and several factors lead to that.  As K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee explains this week, pond owners can take steps to minimize these fish kills, but these must be taken proactively.

Striving for an enhanced fishing experience, some farm pond owners are interested in providing supplemental feed to their large-mouth bass.  One should be strategic in how they go about that, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.   Commercial fish producers often use pelleted feed to grow bass.   That approach may not work as well in a farm pond setting, as Charlie discusses this week.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now taking public comment on a proposal to remove the eastern cougar from the endangered species list.  However, this proposed action is not a result of a successful species recovery…quite the opposite.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee discusses the situation, which he says does nothing for the already-spotty track record of the Endangered Species Act.

In recent years, black-footed ferrets have been introduced as a potential biological control of prairie dogs.  Rabbits tend to also frequent prairie dog dens for protection, especially from coyotes.  That raised a question with researchers:  will coyotes, as they pursue rabbits, also feed on black-footed ferrets in and around prairie dog colonies?  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about a study that addressed that question.   

Millions of birds are killed each year in roadway vehicle collisions.  A recent study set out to measure the reaction time of birds to oncoming vehicles.  And the results indicated that vehicle speed is, indeed, a major factor.   K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reviews the findings of this study and its implications.

- 6/26/2015
Tiny as it is, the zebra mussel has become a colossal invasive species problem in numerous Kansas water resources.  Since it made its way into this region two decades ago, this prolific mussel has disrupted aquatic ecosystems and cause millions of dollars of damage to water-handling facilities.  And while solutions remain difficult to come by, boaters and other recreational water enthusiasts can all do their part to curb the spread of zebra mussels, as K-State wildlife management specialist Charlie Lee discusses this week.

- 6/19/2015
For a number of years now, white perch have posed a problem in water impoundments in Kansas.  And wildlife officials are asking all outdoor enthusiasts to do their part in combatting this nuisance species.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about the nature of white perch and the disruption they cause to the aquatic ecosystem.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final rule on the so-called Waters of the United States regulations.  These have been a lightning rod for controversy for several months, and the final version still requires some interpretation, as to how it will impact wildlife resources as well as agricultural operations.   That’s according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee, who comments on the new rule this week.

Sand sage has been a long-standing weed problem in High Plains grasslands.  And over the years, the herbicide 2,4-D has been used for sage control.  A recent study in Oklahoma evaluated those control efforts and their impact on the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken, which is now listed as a threatened species.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reports on this research and its findings.

- 5/22/2015
One of the reasons why some homeowners like to install backyard ponds as part of their landscape is that the fish they can raise in those ponds, koi and goldfish, require fairly low maintenance.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about the management requirements of these colorful fish, which often ascend to “pet” status with their owners.

Grass carp and tilapia are two fish species that will feed vigorously on aquatic plants in farm ponds.  But they are by no means a panacea for pond weed problems, as K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee points out this week.  He talks about the attributes, and the shortcomings, associated with using fish as a biological control method for excessive pond weed growth.

- 5/8/2015
The barred owl is a commonly-found raptor in Kansas, largely preferring the rural riparian areas.  However, wildlife experts have been closely watching the impact of urban encroachment on this bird’s habitat.  And aligned with that, a new study out of Canada measured how much rodenticide that these owls have been ingesting, when feeding on rodents.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reviews that research this week.

As the weather is warming up, more people are noticing the aquatic plant growth in and around their farm ponds.  Some of that growth is necessary for a good ecological balance of the pond, notes K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  However, when pond plants become more of a weed problem, there are measures that can be taken to control them, as Charlie covers this week.

Wildlife agencies in the five states, including Kansas, which harbor the lesser prairie chicken have just released a progress report on the conservation plan that has been implemented to restore this bird’s population.  And in general, the report is encouraging, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  While it will be some years before the target population for the lesser prairie chicken is reached, indications are that progress is being made.

Providing a supplemental feed resource to wildlife has its pros and cons when it comes to the prevalence of disease in those species.  And that’s important to understand before one actually starts feeding wildlife.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee takes a closer look at this issue.

Seed spillage from bird feeders is inevitable.  And several wildlife species other than birds take advantage of that spillage as a food source.  The numbers of skunks, raccoons and other such scavengers grow even further when pet food is left outdoors, in the area of those bird feeders. That was discovered in a new study covered this week by K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  And he stresses that this could end up being a health concern for both outdoor pets and humans.

A lot of people appreciate having them around, but squirrels can also cause damage in various ways around the yard and home.  Indeed, reports K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee, squirrel numbers are on the rise.  And a recent study in California evaluated the effectiveness of a contraceptive treatment as a means of squirrel population control.  He reports on the findings of that study this week.

- 3/27/2015
Light geese, also called snow geese, commonly migrate into and through Kansas each year.  This species is facing a major issue…its rapid population expansion has overwhelmed its Arctic nesting grounds.  In response, federal wildlife officials have liberalized the snow goose hunting regulations.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee looks at the over-population problem, and the attempts to address it. 

Bird collisions with aircraft near airports remain a significant safety concern…and an economically costly one as well.  In recent years, airport management has taken to having solar energy collection systems installed in the open areas around runways…areas that also serve as bird habitat.  And a new study evaluated the impact of those systems on bird activity, as reviewed by K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.

The human health threat known as Lyme disease has not gone away…if anything, it is escalating, and wildlife definitely play a role in its spread.  The disease itself is borne by ticks, for which various wildlife species serve as hosts.  And while a great deal of the focus in the past has been on deer, rodents may be even more of a concern in this respect.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee takes a closer look at that this week.

Badgers are common in Kansas, and are among the most ferocious diggers in nature.  As they burrow for prey, they can move huge volumes of soil, occasionally creating damage in no-till crop fields that can be treacherous for field traffic.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about the nature of the badger, and options for controlling that field damage.

Comparatively speaking, it’s a relatively unsung hunting opportunity in Kansas:  the prominence of the cottontail rabbit.  In fact, a landowner, if so inclined, can manage habitat to encourage increased rabbit numbers…even though they’re quite prolific in their own right. This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about habitat management for the cottontail.

- 2/20/2015
More than occasionally, hikers on public park trails will encounter copperheads…poisonous snakes that aren’t to be trifled with.  A new study examined copperhead activity on and near hiking trails, to gain a better understanding of why they spend time in those areas.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reviews that work this week.

- 2/13/2015
Avian raptors will prey on bob-white quail, when given the opportunity.  A new study in Texas explored how quail behave when raptors enter their habitat.  And the information from that study can be useful in developing protective habitat for quail, as K-State Research and Extension wildlife specialist Charlie Lee outlines this week.

Bovine tuberculosis, or T-B, can be a devastating disease in cattle herds.  Fortunately, it is a rare occurrence these days.  However, it’s been found that white-tail deer can serve as carriers of this disease, and can transmit it to cattle herds.  Preventing that from happening is a great challenge, as K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee addresses this week.

- 1/30/2015
Walleye are a highly-popular game fish in Kansas reservoirs and larger watershed lakes.  Quite a few landowners routinely express interest in introducing walleye into their farm ponds, according to K-State Research and Extension wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  He always points out that walleye simply don’t do well in the farm pond ecosystem, as he outlines this week. 

- 1/23/2015
On last week’s edition, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reported on a study of feral cats as carriers of a disease which can afflict other wildlife, and potentially, humans who consume wild game.  This week, Charlie takes a closer look at the overall problem of the ever-growing feral cat population, and the negative impacts other wildlife…and what can, and can’t, be done about it.

- 1/16/2015
Free-ranging cats, or feral cats, are long notorious for their predation on upland game birds and other wildlife.  They also harbor another concern, as carriers of a severe disease that infect other wildlife, and potentially, humans.  A new study looked into that disease threat, and K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee summarizes its findings. 

- 1/9/2015
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is now soliciting public input on proposals for dealing with the rapidly expanding feral hog herd in the country.  These hogs in the wild are causing substantial crop and property damage and can serve as a carrier for numerous critical livestock diseases.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about what A-P-H-I-S is proposing in the way of feral hog control. 

- 12/19/2014
Wildlife officials have long observed the behavior, but up to now there had been no bona fide scientific study of coyote monogamy.  New research confirms this aspect of the coyote’s social structure.  And K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee says this information lends to better approaches to coyote predation control, on which he elaborates this week.

Harmless as they may seem, pocket gophers can wreak havoc in alfalfa fields and with drip irrigation systems.  Trapping and rodenticide use are the two main means of controlling pocket gophers.  And a recent study illustrated how important proper training is to succeeding with either of those methods.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee takes a closer look at that research this week.   

Last year, Kansas wildlife officials made changes in the ballistics regulations for hunting deer and other large game.  Quite some attention has been given to the subject of ammunition size and design for humane hunting purposes, says K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  However, another factor probably deserves greater emphasis, as he discusses this week.

The lingering drought in recent years may have been the reason why K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee had been receiving fewer calls about beaver damage to waterways and farm ponds.  However, as streams and ponds have been somewhat replenished by moisture this year, reports of beaver problems have picked back up.  This week, Charlie reminds listeners about the recommended damage control measures.

Like most other indigenous wildlife species, prairie dogs prefer a tranquil environment.  A group of researchers in Colorado wanted to know of traffic noise from roadways has any effect on prairie dog behavior…and their study indicates that indeed, it does.  In reviewing their findings, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee says that noise could turn out to be a useful prairie dog control tool.

- 11/14/2014
The majority of deer hunters use a tree stand for their hunt.  Unfortunately, there are far too many accidental falls from tree stands, virtually all of which can be avoided by using safety equipment properly.  So says K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee, who this week covers the appropriate use of tree stand harnesses.          

- 11/7/2014
Sheep producers have long battled with coyotes, with all sorts of attempts to keep them from preying on their flocks.  An old idea has been getting new attention in research:  mixing sheep with cattle in a grazing area as a deterrent to coyotes.   And the research results show this approach, called creating a “flurd,” to be highly effective, as K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee discusses this week.