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WindStar Wildlife Institute
Following are some inlandwetland practices that willenhance wildlife populationsand boost hunting success.Be sure to check your statewetlands regulations beforeimplementing any practices.
Buffer Strips and Corridors
One of the most importantpractices is to protect thewetlands from activities onsurrounding land such aslogging or cropland.Maintain a buffer strip atleast 50 ft. wide around thewetlands. Do not mow or cutthe vegetation.These strips can serve asfilters for reducing erosionand sedimentation, providevisual screening, and provideshade trees to maintaincooler water temperatures.Fence the area to keeplivestock outside.These strips also serve astravel lanes and are sourcesof food and cover for wildlife,especially wetland and uplandspecies.Planting desired wetlandvegetation to increase coverand food can be successful,but is often difficult if plantsare already established in thetarget planting site.If you have cavity trees andsnags in your buffer strips,keep them, they are neededfor nesting.If you want to make thesestrips especially attractive towildlife, encourage herbaceousfood plants and mast-producing (nuts) & fruit treesand shrubs. Dogwoods,winterberry, blueberries,viburnums, and elder are goodchoices.If you can till on adjacentland, seed millet, buckwheat,sorghum, or corn and you willattract songbirds, grouse,turkey, and possibly waterfowl.Hunting near these areasusually produces good results.
If you are lucky enough to havemarshland on your property,protect it, as it is one of themost valuable natural assetson your farm.It serves as a nutrient trapthat filters out herbicides,fertilizers, and soil that washesinto the marshland fromadjoining cropland. Usually youwill find an abundance of wildlife.A good rule of thumb to followis for every acre of wetland onyour farm, provide two to fouracres of undisturbed adjacentgrassy nesting cover.If you have no wetlands, youshould have five percent of yourfarm in permanent grassy cover.
Most farmers prize their farmponds. Usual size ranges fromone-half to five acres, but theycan be larger.
If you want to host morewildlife, enhance the areaaround the pond with nativegrasses, shrubs, and trees.
Consider adding one or morenearby food plots or leaveseveral rows of unharvestedgrain nearest the pond. Also,add a wood duck nesting box.If you are building a new pond,leave an island in the middle. Itprovides a safer nesting areafor ducks and geese.If your livestock will use thepond for watering, run a pipefrom a submerged filter to atank below the dam.Fence the pond to keep thelivestock from damaging thebanks and muddying the water.Consider seeding the bankswith native grasses andwildflowers. What you will becreating is an oasis for manyspecies of wildlife from ducksand geese to gamebirds, deer,songbirds, fish, butterflies, andamphibians.
If you are practicing goodconservation tillage on yourcropland to reduce soil erosion,chances are you have beneficialhabitat for wildlife, especiallyquail, pheasants, and songbirds.By maintaining the crop residue,you are furnishing both food