There are four essential elements to any successful habitat:
Space – We often cannot do anything about the “space” available for wildlife. Our properties have boundaries and it is usually difficult or very expensive to increase the available space. Use of hunting leases is a useful way to increase space, while keeping costs down
Water – Over most of the south, water is plentiful and usually not a limiting factor, as it is in the west.
Food – Can increase quantity and quality through food plots, supplemental feeding and managing timber stands.
Cover – Nesting or bedding cover can be improved by any type of timber harvest that opens up the canopy and allows sunlight to reach the ground. This invites new growth beneficial to many species.
* Information condensed from “Improve Your Habitat” article written by Larry Weishuhn, wildlife biologist.
As forest/wildlife managers we have the greatest control over food and cover. In healthy, growing stands of timber we can make intermediate thinnings to open up the stand and improve timber growth, while also stimulating the growth of new vegetation. Use of fire through prescribed burning will remove ground cover and stimulate growth of new vegetation.
In mature stands we can clearcut them and reforest. Clearcut areas provide food and cover for more species of wildlife than a mature forest will.
Quality wildlife management in only four steps:
- Determine your goals and objectives.
- Make an inventory of wildlife diversity and abundance, vegetation types and other habitat characteristics.
- Make management recommendations based on goals and objectives.
- Evaluate the success of the project and determine if any further management actions are needed.