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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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.
 

- 10/31/2014
The ebola crisis in Africa has the world’s full attention…and there is a wildlife link to the story, in that bats actively transmit the ebola virus in the African wild.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks this week about the role bats play in the movement of ebola, stressing that the chances of bats transmitting the disease in the U.S. are virtually nil.  

Canada geese are abundant around Kansas in the late summer and fall.  And that can cause a headache for farmers, as those geese will feed on late-season crops, especially soybeans…causing costly losses.  A new study out of South Dakota tested the effectiveness of two goose repellant products sprayed on the foliage of soybean stands.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about the results.

When deer numbers appear to be down, hunters and others often point to predation by coyotes as the cause, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  The research on this subject has produced mixed results, but he says there’s good reason to think that coyotes are not a major contributor to a drop in the deer population in a state like Kansas.  He elaborates on that this week.

- 10/10/2014
Compared to other states, Kansas is ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with feral hog issues, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  Nonetheless, feral hog damage to crops, property and wildlife habitat remains a concern.  A recent study points out that Kansas’ feral hog numbers are not the result of migration from other states…rather, they’re here largely because of intentional introduction, which is illegal.  

Wildlife conservationists have long suspected that the construction and operation of wind towers in grassland areas disrupts the normal reproductive behavior of upland game bird species.   A new study out of K-State indicates that, in the case of the greater prairie chicken, the presence of wind towers makes very little difference in their nesting success.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee takes a look at that study this week.

There’s been considerable discussion of late about the habitat of the lesser prairie chicken in the Great Plains region.  Adding to that dialogue is a new USDA analysis of two of its major conservation programs, and the impact those are having on the breeding, or lek, sites of this bird.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee takes a look at that study and its findings.

- 9/19/2014
Managing deer antler size by way of strategically harvesting deer over time is a concept that’s been researched before.  A new study in this area actually runs counter to a wide-cited previous study of the impact of “culling out” inferior genetics by harvesting deer selectively.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee compares and discusses those studies.

- 9/12/2014
In anticipation of the deer hunting season, landowners and hunters often set out mineral supplements in the hunting area…the idea being that those supplements will lead to improved antler development, and therefore, a greater likelihood of harvesting a trophy buck.  However, the science doesn’t support that strategy, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee…he discusses that this week.  

For many, it’s a sensitive subject…but in many circumstances, it is the answer for dealing with wildlife damage.  Euthanasia is often the preferred means of dealing with captured wildlife, as opposed to relocating the animal in a habitat foreign to them, as K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee discusses this week.

- 8/28/2014
Discarded plastic materials such as fishing line have long been a welfare concern for aquatic life.  Such plastics are often taken by birds for nesting material, which can lead to nestling problems.  Recently, a study in California sought to measure that impact in crows’ nests.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks of their findings this week. 

It’s rarely seen in Kansas, but historical records show that the northern long-eared bat does, in fact, reside in the eastern half of Kansas.  That’s noteworthy, says K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee, for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just proposed that this bat be listed as an endangered species.  This week, Charlie takes a closer look at that development.

- 8/15/2014
With all the fervor over the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee advises landowners to become familiar with how the endangered species listing process works.  This week, he goes over the established factors that determine whether or not a species is declared as endangered.  

- 8/8/2014
The federal duck stamp program has been around for decades.  It provides vital funding for securing conservation easements for developing and preserving waterfowl habitat.   There’s a move afoot to raise the cost of duck stamps.  And according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee, it would still be a worthwhile investment in wildlife conservation.

Found in the High Plains region of western Kansas and adjoining states, the ferruginous hawk is an impressive predator which thrives on prairie dogs, ground squirrels and other prey commonly found in the area.  Though it’s far from endangered, this hawk may well deserve some conservation attention, as K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee discusses this week.     

The number of bird losses resulting from vehicle collisions is staggering.  However, putting an accurate count on those losses has historically proven difficult.  A recent research review attempted to quantify those losses and why they occur.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about those findings.
 

- 7/18/2014
A new research trial recently evaluated the performance of several commercial repellant products designed to deter cottontail rabbits from gardens and landscapes, where they can do considerable damage.  And as part of this study, those products were also compared to the use of fencing, as a means of protecting plants from rabbits.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reports on the findings of this evaluation.

Often for well-meaning purposes, several non-native, or exotic, grass species have been introduced in the Great Plains region.  Now, those species have encroached on native grasslands, and that could become a major problem for several wildlife species residing in those areas.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee looks at a new study of the situation.

- 7/3/2014
Pocket gophers can inflict major damage to pastures and alfalfa stands with their burrowing activity.  Trapping and removing gophers remains the best solution to the problem, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  This week, he reports on a new study out of Nebraska, which compares the effectiveness of the two gopher trap designs available on the market.

- 6/26/2014
Still more information has come out about the pasture management approach called “patch burning”…that is, burning only a portion of a pasture every year, instead of the whole pasture annually.  This system has proven very beneficial to grassland birds and other wildlife.  However, there’s always been a question of whether cattle performance on patch-burned grasses holds up sufficiently.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about a new study that sheds light on that.

- 6/20/2014
An individual bat requires only a small crack or crevice as an entryway to a home.  Getting the bat to leave on its own is usually problematic, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  This week, he talks about a simple means of capturing a single bat for removal…and about troubleshooting the home for points of entry.

- 6/13/2014
As the summer progresses, more aquatic plant growth is evident on and around farm ponds.  That’s when pond owners bring their questions about controlling those “weeds” to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  He stresses that some plant growth is a beneficial part of the pond’s biology.  He talks about managing those aquatic weeds.

Homeowners tend to cringe at those unsightly burrows left in their yard by an unknown culprit.  Controlling that burrowing starts with positively identifying the species causing it, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  This week, he goes over several simple guidelines for doing so.

- 5/30/2014
Several years of research have confirmed that grassland wildlife benefit from a pasture management approach called “patch burning”…an alternative to annually burning an entire pasture.  Now, a new research review shows that cattle performance in a patch-burn system compares favorably to that in a conventional burning program.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee takes a look at that this week.

- 5/23/2014
Wildlife enthusiasts, landowners and others with an interest in the proposed changes to the Clean Water Act have until mid-July to submit comments on the proposal.  In general, it would more stringently define what waters fall under the jurisdiction of the act, including how remote tributaries and intermittent streams will be considered.  Whatever is finally decided will have ramifications for wildlife management and land management likewise, as K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee addresses this week.

Beavers are naturally attracted to running water, where they typically build their dams.  If that dam ends up clogging a culvert or other waterway, flooding of the roadway or surrounding crop fields can result. K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee looks at the latest strategies in dealing with beaver problems of this type, which fall into two categories: exclusion and deception.
 

The presence of the black-footed ferret across the Plains region has dwindled mightily over time.  Efforts to re-introduce the ferret have been ongoing for several years at numerous locations, including sites in northwest Kansas.  So far, as we hear this week from K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee, those efforts have gone wanting.
 

The impact of prairie dog colonies on rangeland vegetation has been studied before…but never to the depth of a new research project that spanned the high plains region, literally border-to-border from Canada to Mexico.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about the findings of this research, saying that it clearly depicts that the extent of grassland damage depends on the prairie dog species in question.
 

Though found infrequently in Kansas, the eastern chipmunk does reside in some isolated wooded areas in the state.  It’s a really interesting relative of the common squirrel, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee.  Even so, it can cause nuisance damage to landscapes and other settings, calling for control measures as Charlie outlines this week.
 

While they won’t wipe out an entire no-till crop field, kangaroo rats can create severe spot damage in such fields. Crop residue provides ideal cover and habitat for these rodents, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee. This week, he goes over how to employ an effective toxicant product against kangaroo rats, especially in newly planted no-till corn.
 

Steadily over the last 40 years, free-ranging horse and burrow numbers have swelled in parts of the West.  And in fact, under agreements with the Bureau of Land Management, several thousand of these animals reside in Kansas and Oklahoma.  A recent study was commissioned, in an attempt to address the rapid wild horse and burrow population growth, and the severe harm that growth is inflicting on natural ecosystems.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reports on that effort.
 

After years of discussion on the issue, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Western Kansas is part of this upland bird’s native range. This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about what this listing means for farmers and ranchers in that region.
 

Among the many negative consequences of extended drought conditions are the adverse impacts on deer. Drought leads to changes in deer herd density, which makes deer more susceptible to severe disease issues. That’s not to mention the stress caused by a shortage of drinking water. K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about these effects and what landowners wanting to preserve their deer resources can do.
 

Badgers can be found rather commonly across the Plains region. Their upside is that they consume large numbers of rodents. However, as they pursue that prey, they create large burrows – often in reduced-tillage crop fields. And, those burrows can become a hazard for field equipment.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about contending with that damage through badger control.
 

Landowners and hunting enthusiasts often think of predator control as the quick fix for declining bobwhite quail populations. But it isn’t as simple as that, according to K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee. Effective predator control at the right time is not easily achieved. That’s why Charlie promotes the concept of predator management, rather than control, as he outlines this week.
 

Numerous Kansans have been witness to a highly unusual sight this past winter:  snowy owls showing up here in the Central Plains. This arctic bird has ventured far beyond its normal habitat, and K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee says there’s a great deal of speculation as to why…without any scientific conclusions yet. Regardless, he talks this week about this rare appearance of snowy owls in this region.
 

Landowners and game bird enthusiasts have an excellent opportunity to glean new ideas on upland game bird management at the 2014 State Habitat Convention, to take place on March 7th and 8th at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee strongly endorses participation in this event, and joining him again this week with details on this convention is wildlife biologist Holly Shutt of Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever.
 
 

The steady decline in pheasant and quail numbers in Kansas is drawing considerable attention from wildlife agencies and organizations, as they strive to work with landowners in attempting to restore these upland game bird numbers.  That’s the mission of a wildlife biologist with Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Holly Shutt.  She joins K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee this week to talk about the lack of sufficient pheasant and quail habitat in the state.
 
 

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