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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Outbound Kansas
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- 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.
 

- 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.

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