Monday, October 31, 2011

What's your fish and wildlife IQ ?

Do you have a good basic understanding of what fish and wildlife need to survive? You
probably do if you can answer the questions below correctly.
Choose only one answer for each.

1. Everything you do on your land affects wildlife.
a. True
b. False

2. What are the basic needs of wildlife? (choose best answer)
a. Food, water, cover and space
b. Food, water, and shelter
c. Food, water, and a place to raise young
d. Food, water, and winter cover

3. Which habitat statement below is most nearly correct?
a. What is good for one species of wildlife is good for all others as well.
b. Individual species have specific habitat needs.
c. Habitat you create for one species will be wrong for all others.

4. A soft, gradual transition from crop field to other habitat is better for more species than an abrupt change.
a. True
b. False

5. Rotational grazing helps birds as well as livestock.
a. True
b. False

6. The best conservation practices for fish and wildlife habitat include:
a. restored wetlands, streamside buffers and ponds
b. windbreaks, diverse grass plantings, and clean water
c. connecting corridors, and managed timber and grassland
d. All of the above

7. Which is not a good general rule for habitat plantings?
a. Prefer natives over exotics
b. Use a variety of plants
c. Create habitat away from water
d. Use plants that offer food and cover for wildlife

8. You may benefit grassland birds by discing old grass.
a. True
b. False

Did you

The original
name for the butterfly was
“flutterby”... ..many spiders
have eight eyes...pigeons
eyes are located laterally on
their heads, so they can view
340 degrees...a falcon can
see a 4” object from nearly a
mile away.

Answers: 1.a; 2.a; 3.b; 4.a; 5.a; 6.d; 7.c; 8.a

Friday, October 28, 2011

New License and Game Check System

Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Wildlife has enacted new rules for checking of game this hunting season. Please be sure to visit their website and familiarize yourself with the new procedures at their website HERE

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Night Hike

Hey, don't forget the Night Hike at Moore Memorial Woods in a week. Its Thursday, November 3rd from 5:30 to 8. The hike is geared toward kids 6-16, who must be accompanied by an adult.
Check the educational page for a flyer, and be sure to call the office to make reservations.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Annual Election Results

John Enos, Ken Ford, and Krista Shriver were candidates for the 2 board seats up for election. in a very close race, John Enos and Ken Ford were elected to serve 3 year terms beginning January of 2012.

Annual Meeting news

Sandy and Ed Kennedy socialize with board member Carol Wheeler (rt) and her husband, Howard. The Kennedy's were recipients of the 2010 Co-operator of the Year award.
County Engineer Del George and his wife, Barbara attended the meeting.
Congratulations to Myron Dellinger, who was awarded Co-operator of the year by the district.
Farm Credit partners with districts in Ohio to provide these nice signs each year. Myron is a master gardener, naturalist, and has worked with the district on many of our educational programs including Ag School Days, Conservation Day Camp, the Spring Wildflower walk, and Hooked on Fishing. Myron is the kind of guy who, when asked to help, answers with "tell me when and where and I'll be there".

Commissioner Steve Douglass talks to Dee and Richard Carter after the meeting. Dee, a retired science teacher, has volunteered for the district at our Conservation Daycamp for many years. The kids LOVE her!

State Representative Andy Thompson and GSWCD Chairman Blaine Neilley discuss natural resource concerns in Guernsey County. Rep Thompson was the guest speaker for the meeting. He spoke on current issues in Ohio, and took questions from the audience.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fish survival dependent on landowners

Fish survival is tied to habitat- to their water. And, like most species of wildlife, their habitat condition is often dependent on actions taken by private
Simply put, fish need food, water, shelter, and favorable conditions to breed and raise their young. A more complex story emerges when you manage habitats for many different fish species, with very different life cycles and needs. Some fish need
cold water, others need warm. Some use sandy bottoms, others like to hide under rocks and wood, and on and on.
Overall, it’s watershed management, particularly the management of the land nearest the stream, that’s most important to fish. Healthy plant life along a stream, and a steady flow of clean water are critical.
Land development or poor forestry or agricultural practices can cause erosion that results in sediment that can cement stream gravels and smother fish eggs.
Streambank erosion can also mean less overhanging vegetation that contributes leaves and twigs that host some of the insects fish eat. While coldwater fish such as trout have different habitat needs than warm water fish like bass, there are some
general management tips that fit all streams to improve habitat:

1) Control upland erosion on fields, pastures, and forests.
2) Maintain vegetation on streambanks, protected from trampling and erosion.
3) Plant riparian (streamside) buffers of trees, shrubs and grasses, preferably native.
4) Install grass filter strips and waterways to trap sediments.
5) Keep farm chemicals, manure and other harmful ag products
out of the water.

In-stream practices.
Meandering streams with riffles and pools, undercut banks with overhanging vegetation, and submerged wood are ideal for trout and other fishes.
Keeping streams free of barriers to fish movement up and downstream, and maintaining
wetlands and backwaters in floodplains are also important management techniques.

Did you
That slime you feel when you
handle a fish is a type of
mucus secreted from the skin
that’s very important to a fish.
It’s a coating that provides protection
against parasites and
diseases, covers wounds to prevent
infection and helps fish
move through the water faster.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frogs, snakes & turtles need our help

Before you say you’re not disappointed that frogs, turtles, snakes and other herps, as they’re called, are in trouble, read on.
They may be among the most misunderstood of species; most are not nearly as dangerous as people fear them to be. In fact, they are beneficial in the chain of
life, eating insects, rodents and other pests. But they are in
decline in the United States and worldwide, largely because of the loss or degradation of habitat.
Amphibians have been dubbed the aquatic “canary of the coal mine” because they reveal the subtle declines in environmental health.
There are specific habitat needs of different species of amphibians and reptiles, and you could help those species with specific habitats. But generally, you can
help herp habitat by improving habitat for wildlife in general.
Some of the steps that help most wildlife species, including herps, are:

1) Keep or establish natural vegetation along ponds, streams, wetlands, crop fields and wherever else possible to protect the land and provide food and cover for wildlife.
2) Large habitat areas are more valuable to herps than a series of small areas. Try to keep from “fragmenting” large areas.
3) Establish well-vegetated corridors to connect patches of habitat, so herps can travel from one to another with protection.
4) Protect and restore wetlands, including seasonal wetlands, some of the most important habitat to amphibians.
5) Establish buffer zones with native vegetation around wetlands.
6) Leave logs, snags, and other woody debris.
7) Leave protective vegetation 50-75 feet wide along streams, to guard against
streambank erosion and to provide cover for many herps.
8) Keep cattle out of streams.
9) Manage forestland for a diversity of plant habitat with understory.
10) Use selective spot spraying or wick application if herbicides are applied near waterways. Avoid them if you can.

Did you
Snakes can go for months
without eating. Many turtles
live for more than 50
years. And, some frogs can
survive being frozen for
long periods of time. The
world of herptiles--
amphibians and reptiles-- is
a fascinating one.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tree ID Hike

It was a beautiful breezy fall day, and those attending Sunday enjoyed the hike and learned quite a bit on how to identify trees using bark, twigs, and leaves. After the hike, everyone had cider and cookies and chatted about what they had learned. Thank you to all who came!

The Why and the How of Conservation

by Van Slack, district technician

Have you ever had the experience of knowing why you should do something but not knowing how? Or conversely, knowing how to do something but not knowing why you should. Conservation Districts are where the why and how of conservation come together. The mission of the Guernsey Soil and Water conservation district is to promote through education and technical assistance the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Education and technical assistance are the backbone of most soil and water conservation districts. Education is the why and technical assistance is the how.

It seems like as a small child develops, the first word they learn after mamma and dada is WHY! And I think maybe the very next word might be HOW. Why daddy, or how did you do that mama, are a couple of phrases you might be familiar with. Conservation can be a lot like that. As a land owner or land user you might ask similar questions. Why should I install that access road? How do you install a spring development for livestock water? Why should I use no-till? How do I put a siphon system into a pond so I can water my livestock?

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are where the why and the how meet. Conservation districts are a valuable resource within your local communities. Every county in the State of Ohio has one. And there are over 3,000 conservation districts nationwide. They provide educational opportunities for school age children, youth, and adults. They work one on one with landowners and with land users to solve natural resource issues by providing technical assistance. They work with local governmental agencies to solve resource concerns on a larger scale. Conservation districts partner with other agencies such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the OSU Extension to meet the natural resource needs of local communities and individuals.

Each soil and water conservation district is governed by a locally elected five member board of supervisors. This local leadership allows programs to be customized to fit the needs and concerns of each individual county. Some districts have equipment rental programs that include no-till drills, planters, and brillion seeders. A few have lime spreaders, mulching equipment and sprayers. Other services offered by conservation districts are tree seedling sales, fish sales, and wildlife related seed and plant sales. Just contact your local district to see what it has to offer.

If you own land or know of somebody who does and they have a question related to natural resources and conservation, contact your local soil and water conservation district. A list of district contacts can be found on the web HERE

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bring birds to your backyard

Wherever you live, you can bring comfort to wildlife and joy to your own life by offering a bit of habitat to nature’s creatures.
With the right plants for food and shelter, you can attract spring and fall migrating birds as well as those that might stay year round.
Add water and, if you happen to live on an acreage where you have ample space, you can do wonders for birds, butterflies and your own disposition.

Natural Food or Feeders.
Fruits, nuts, and seeds from trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses will attract a variety of birds. Look to plant those that offer the food the bird species likes that
you want in your yard. The same is true for feeding stations; the location, feeder style and food type will determine the birds that visit.
To attract the greatest variety of birds, use a station with a variety of feeder types, such as gravity-fed cylinder tubes, hopper boxes, platforms and suet feeders. Position them at different levels. Offer millet for ground feeders; black oil sunflower and thistle for finches, and peanut and suet for woodpeckers.
Locate the station feeders next to natural cover such as evergreen shrubs or trees. The feeders should be clean with fresh food or seed.

Open Water, Birdbaths.
Most birds need open water for bathing, drinking and controlling their temperatures. A small backyard pond or a birdbath will do the job. The sound of flowing water attracts birds, so a fountain or small waterfall will increase your chances to bring birds to your back yard.\

Cover, natural and manmade.
The same trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses that offer food to your backyard birds can offer them cover. The birds use that cover for escape, roosting, nesting and rearing their young.
Another option is to build or purchase birdhouses designed for
specific species of birds, with the opening size critical.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Cares...and why should we?

Creepy. Slimy. Ugly. Dangerous.

Only a few of the words that describe many people’s negative feeling towards snakes, lizards, toads and other reptiles and amphibians.
They just have a tough time getting people to think of them in a positive light. Even their collective name--herps-- comes
from a Greek term meaning “creeping things”.
But they have their good points. While all snakes are predators, most are harmless.
They’re beneficial to humans because they prey on rodents. As a matter of fact, snakes are the world's most effective natural control on rodent population.
These animals called herps-- salamanders, frogs, lizards, snakes and toads-- are part of the balance of nature you learned about in grade school. Their health is an indicator of the health of the environment.
Don't think of the lowly toad as an unwanted guest. If you invite a toad to dinner, it will eat the things you most want to get rid of- slugs and mosquitoes are
among its favorite meals. Toads eat insects and invertebrates.
Lizards are probably the most familiar of all reptiles. There are over 3500 different
types of lizards throughout the world, existing in all climates.
Lizards are as diverse as their dwellings. They are often misunderstood and feared because of a lack of knowledge and exposure.
The truth is, lizards, like so many other reptiles and amphibians, are beneficial to humans. In many countries, lizards are welcome houseguests, catching and eating many annoying insects. They walk the walls and ceilings and live their lives unharmed by understanding humans.
Some lizards could become non-existent because of a lack of understanding. Beaded lizards and Gila Monsters, the only two poisonous species, are often killed out of fear. They are unlikely to bite pets or people. When they do, it’s likely to be in self defense. Left alone, both lizards are docile creatures.
Many countries use the lizard in ceremonies. Some Indian tribes of North America used
lizard tails in a recipe for love potions. They are also eaten and their skin used for leather. In the tropics, the Green Iguana is killed for its flesh and eggs.

Did you
Most snakes can swallow prey
that is 3 times or more their
own body diameter-- and,
the defensive skin secretions of
toads do not cause warts. In
fact toads are completely harmless
to human skin-- but a
predator that gets a mouthful
can become extremely ill.

Focus on Fish with a farm pond

The water a farm pond offers to wildlife makes it an ideal centerpiece for a high quality fish and wildlife habitat area.
The pond’s location, design, surrounding plantings, and management all contribute to how successful it can be in meeting your expectations.
Get technical help. While you make the decisions, you don’t have to know everything about a farm pond and wildlife plantings yourself. The district holds a pond clinic each year in partnership with the OSU Extension and Noble SWCD. Check
with us for ideas, technical help, and possibly sources of financial help to build your pond.
Location, location, location.
Before you build, you’ll want to make sure the pond will hold water, that there’s enough runoff or springwater to fill it, that it will be deep enough, won’t fill
prematurely with sediment, etc.
The district can help with planning for a successful pond. Rules of thumb are to have about 20 acres of land that drain to the pond for each surface acre of
pond water. That land will produce cleaner pond water, longer pond life and higher fish populations if it’s forest, grassland or pasture rather than cropland.
Surround with plantings for erosion control and habitat.
Seeding grass or legumes around the pond is good for both erosion control and wildlife habitat.
Native grasses with forbs, or grass/legume mixes both work well for wildlife nesting and cover. Trees and shrubs can also be planted for escape and winter
cover and food. This surrounding buffer area is especially important
for wildlife habitat and pond life if the pond is built within crop fields. However, do not plant trees on or near the dam, as their roots can cause leaks in the pond.
If the pond is built in a pasture, it should be fenced. Livestock can trample and ruin pond banks, muddy the water and destroy fish spawning nests.
Run a pipe from the pond to a tank below for their water.

Stocking fish.
The pond could be stocked with fish you might want to catch. Consider bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish.

Did you

Bass tend to
school in groups of similar
size fish. If you catch one
bass, you're likely to catch
more nearby. Bass lie in wait
behind cover and ambush
their intended prey; find
them near rocks, wood,
weeds, submerged cover,
deep water, etc.