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K-State Research and Extension News

Outbound: Kansas

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.  Each feature is approximately 5-minutes in length.

Send comments, questions or requests for copies of past programs to ksrenews@ksu.edu.

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10-18-19NEW SNAKE REPELLENT– Like most wildlife, snakes are seeking out their shelter for the winter, which oftentimes ends up being inside a home or an outbuilding.  People have turned to snake repellent products in the past, usually with unsatisfactory results. However, there is a new compound on the market which, in an independent research trial, proved highly effective in keeping snakes out of a given area.  OUT 10-18
10-11-19BIRD FEEDERS AND NEST PREDATION– Anyone who feeds birds in the backyard knows that wildlife other than birds will often frequent that feeding area.  And a recent study wanted to find out if bird feeding encourages certain species to prey on nearby songbird nests. OUT 10-11
10-04-19CROW CHOLESTEROL STUDY– Like many other wildlife species, crows routinely feed on scraps and other human food waste. How that impacts the nutritional condition of crows was the subject of a recent two-phase study. And it served to prompt more questions about the effects of wildlife access to these supplemental food sources.OUT 10-04
09-27-19BIRD FEEDER WILDLIFE– Quite often, wildlife other than birds will hang around backyard bird feeders, consuming spillover seed from those feeders.  Additionally, some homeowners will provide a supplemental food source for wildlife at those sites, in the form of pet food.  A recent study looked at the impact of that supplemental feeding on wildlife behavior near those bird feeders. OUT 09-27
09-20-19HUMMINGBIRD MIGRATION CHANGES– The annual ritual is underway…the southward migration of hummingbirds.  They’ll continue to pass through Kansas for a while, but soon will be gone for the winter.  A new study suggests that this migration is taking place earlier than it once did.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee takes a look at that this week.OUT 09-20 
09-13-19PROBLEM WILDLIFE EUTHANASIA– It’s not always easy to talk about, but it is clearly an important option for controlling damaging wildlife…humane euthanasia. And the accent is on the word “humane” -- what is acceptable…and unacceptable…methods of euthanizing problem wildlife.OUT 09-13
09-06-19CRAPPIE IN FARM PONDS– Those who regularly enjoy fishing typically like to catch crappie.  It’s a species that makes for a great fishing experience as well as for tasty table fare.  That’s why so many farm pond owners would like to introduce crappie into their ponds…which generally is not such a good idea.OUT 09-06
08-30-19ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT– Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a series of changes in how the Endangered Species Act will be implemented in protecting threatened or endangered wildlife.  Some of those changes are being broadly welcomed, and others are meeting with skepticism from some wildlife conservation groups. OUT 08-30 
08-23-19MOUNTAIN LION STUDY– Mountain lion, or cougars, have steadily expanded their range over the recent decades.  Confirmed sightings have been made in Kansas and other central plains states.  A new study sought to find out if cougar management in the big cat’s original habitat, the Black Hills region, had any impact on that range expansion.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reports on the findings.OUT 08-23
08-16-19MISSISSIPPI KITE STUDY– The Mississippi kite is a raptor found in most parts of Kansas.  Its vigorous consumption of insects makes it a beneficial bird. However, at times people are annoyed, and even frightened, by its aggressive behavior as the kite protects its nesting areas. Now, there’s a new study of that behavior. OUT 08-16
08-09-19TOADS AND FROGS– The state of Kansas features a wide assortment of toads and frogs, and they typically do well in this central plains habitat. Even so, these amphibians face their own set of challenges, and those deserve more research attention than they are currently getting.OUT 08-09
08-02-19COYOTE DETERRENT STUDY– A technique that has proven successful in protecting livestock from wolves in the western U.S. was recently tested for its effectiveness against coyote predation.  It’s called fladry…the use of a string of suspended flags as a frightening device.  This non-lethal approach to coyote damage control appeals to many livestock owners, but a new study suggests that its effectiveness tends to wane over time.  OUT 08-02
07-26-19ENTRAPPED SNAKE PROBLEM– Plastic mesh materials used for soil erosion control can be commonly seen at construction sites and along roadways.  These serve an important purpose by keeping soil in place…but they can also pose a danger to snakes, which in turn can be disruptive to the wildlife ecosystem. A new study in Texas examined the magnitude of this issue.OUT 07-26
07-19-19SALAMANDER HABITAT ISSUE– The small amphibian called the salamander can be found in Kansas.  In fact, there are multiple kinds of salamanders in the state.  Even so, wildlife conservationists are concerned about a general decline in salamander habitat. And, it is an issue worth addressing because the salamander plays a subtle, but important, role in the overall ecosystem.OUT 07-19
07-12-19QUAIL AND PREDATORS– A just-released study out of Florida confirms that the impact of certain mammals preying on quail nests can be substantial.  This multi-year in-field research systematically removed large numbers of these predators from quail habitat and the resulting effect on quail nesting success was impressive.OUT 07-12 
07-05-19FERAL DOG DAMAGE– Each year, there are reports of feral dogs attacking livestock and, occasionally, preying on wildlife. These differ from domesticated dogs who just happen to be running loose. Nevertheless, in the case of protecting livestock, the laws for control pertain equally to both kinds of dog aggression.OUT 07-05
06-28-19AVOIDING VENOMOUS SNAKES– Six venomous snake species can be found in Kansas.  But, contrary to what most might think, these snakes are not nearly the lethal threat they’re made out to be. Still, we would do well to avoid encountering rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths.OUT 06-28 
06-21-19WOODLAND MANAGEMENT FOR WILDLIFE– Properly-managed woodland areas can serve as high-quality habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species.  Such management is not achieved casually…the landowner needs to create a plan, and then execute it through both tree removal and establishment. OUT 06-21
06-14-19MANAGING POND FISH– Once a farm pond manager has taken inventory of the fish in a given pond, as was outlined on last week’s program, the next step is to strategically harvest fish from the pond to promote high-quality long-term fishing.  Charlie Lee talks about three common management options and how to carry them out.OUT 06-14
06-07-19POND FISH INVENTORY– In order to maximize the fishing opportunities in farm ponds, a well-balanced fish population is necessary. That is, the numbers of “predator” fish and “prey” fish must be in balance. And the only way to know that is to take inventory of the fish -- and there are a couple of methods of doing that.OUT 06-07 
05-31-19COMPETITIVE WILDLIFE HUNTING– Wildlife hunting tournaments have drawn a considerable number of participants in nearly all states in the U.S.  These contests have raised some ethical questions, to the point where some states are now banning such events and it may be casting a shadow over traditional hunting in the court of public opinion.OUT 05-31
05-24-19CANADA GEESE CONTROL– Canada geese are a protected migratory species. That limits the options one has for controlling the damage they can incur on home lawns and other spaces near their summer water habitat.  However, some steps can be taken to keep these geese from wandering onto  your property. OUT 05-24
05-17-19POND FISH KILLS– It’s not unusual for farm pond owners to see fish kills in the fall, as a result of an oxygen shortage in the water caused by weather conditions. This typically doesn’t occur in the spring, but this year is an exception. It's called pond “turnover” and it has led to considerable fish losses.OUT 05-17
05-10-19PRAIRIE DOG STUDY– It’s an age-old point of debate: do prairie dogs and their feeding activity negatively impact grazing forage resources for livestock?  A new study in the High Plains region came up with findings that run counter to many previous thoughts -- adding more fodder to the discussion.OUT 05-10
05-03-19KING SNAKES AND COPPERHEADS– Both king snakes and copperheads can commonly be found in Kansas.  Studies have indicated, however, that king snake populations are declining, while copperhead numbers are rising.  And the two trends may have a lot to do with each other. OUT 05-03
04-26-19FERRUGINOUS HAWK MIGRATION– Ferruginous hawks regularly dwell in the rough terrain found in parts of western Kansas.  And they are an important of the prairie ecology.  A recent study looked at the migration patterns of this large, rust-colored hawk. It confirmed that the High Plains region is a preferred habitat for this bird.OUT 04-26 
04-19-19BACKYARD BIRD FEEDING– Millions of homeowners in this country routinely feed birds in their yards.  And a recent survey asked a group of backyard bird feeders to report on the bird activity they’ve observed at their locations.  The idea is to get a better handle of bird response to artificial feeding, as well as the roles that predators and disease plat at those feeding sites.OUT 04-19
04-12-19EASTERN SPOTTED SKUNK– The eastern spotted skunk was at one time an abundant species in Kansas.  For reasons that have yet to be confirmed, this skunk has declined in numbers dramatically.  In fact, it is now designated as a threatened species in the state and deserves more conservation attention.OUT 04-12 
04-05-19CURBING BEAVER DAMAGE – Their role in the ecosystem is well grounded, but beavers can nonetheless become a nuisance for landowners with ponds and other water flow structures on their property.  The beaver’s natural tendency is to dam up moving water…which can play havoc with pond outlet pipes and road culverts, among other things. However, there are devices for deterring this activity.OUT 04-05 
03-29-19COYOTES AND DEER– As coyotes have expanded their range ever deeper into the eastern part of the United States, some have wondered if they were having a negative impact on deer populations.  While there may be localized incidents of declining deer numbers because of coyote predation, a new long-term study indicates that this is not a widespread trend…in fact, it’s quite the opposite.OUT 03-29 
03-22-19ATTRACTING PURPLE MARTINS– Quite a few people go to great lengths to attract purple martins to their location.  It’s a popular bird, in part because of its appetite for pesky flying insects.  And purple martins are now making their seasonal return to the central plains.  A recent study looked at what kinds of artificial nest housing is most appealing to purple martins.OUT 03-22
03-15-19PRAIRIE DOG VACCINE– Preventing plague from ravaging prairie dog colonies is important to preserving the prairie ecosystem.  One idea that continues to be tested is administering a vaccine, via a bait product, to prairie dogs…hopefully, to protect them from contracting plague.OUT 03-15
03-08-19PRAIRIE DOGS AND PLAGUE – When the bacteria that induces the plague infests a prairie dog colony, the results are usually devastating….and in turn, disruptive to the prairie ecosystem.  Wildlife researchers continue to study how the plague can spread, and what, if anything, can be done to protect prairie dog populations from it. OUT 03-08
03-01-19PILEATED WOODPECKER RANGE– Perhaps the largest of the species in North America, the pileated woodpecker can be found in the wooded areas of southeast Kansas.  And as woodlands continue to expand in the state, so has the range of this bird…along with its damage to trees, and sometimes, homes.OUT 03-01
02-22-19POCKET GOPHER CONTROL– Alfalfa growers in this region routinely contend with pocket gopher activity in their stands.  The damage they can inflict often amounts to substantial yield loss.  A new study evaluated the effectiveness of several pocket gopher control approaches. OUT 02-22
02-15-19LEAST SHREW TRAITS– Though it’s a common prairie mammal, the least shrew is not well known to most people.  In fact, most mistake it for a mouse or mole, not understanding the unsung role it plays in the ecosystem...and that it poses no problems for wildlife.OUT 02-15 
02-08-19FARM POND MANAGEMENT– For landowners with a new or a freshly-renovated farm pond, now is a good time to think about how that pond will be managed come springtime and beyond.  This is particularly important in regard to stocking that pond with fish and then properly maintaining the pond to promote fish populations.OUT 02-08
02-01-19ROAMING CAT IMPACT– Recent research has further documented the extent to which free-roaming cats can negatively impact wildlife.  In this instance, “free-roaming” does not mean just feral cats…it includes pet cats that are allowed to roam outside long enough to prey on birds and small mammals.OUT 02-01
01-25-19FLYING SQUIRREL DECLINE– Built for gliding from tree branches to the ground, the southern flying squirrel is one of woodlands’ more interesting creatures.  Changes to its habitat, along with greater susceptibility to predation, are causing their numbers to decline.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks more about that, citing a new study that looked into the actual woodland makeup in which southern flying squirrels thrive.OUT 01-25
01-18-19PEN-RAISED QUAIL STUDY– Historically, raising game birds in captivity and then releasing them into the wild has met with little success.  Identifying the reasons for that has proven difficult.  However, a new study out of Texas that compared raptor predation on pen-raised and wild-reared quail sheds some light on that. OUT 01-18
01-11-19CROP DAMAGE SURVEY – It’s been widely recognized that wildlife cause damage to field crops…but which species are more prone to inflicting that damage?  Answering that question was the aim of a multi-stage survey that has been conducted over 30-year intervals, and involves agriculture and wildlife officials from all 50 states. OUT 01-11 
12-21-18FARM BILL AND WILDLIFE– Perhaps overshadowed by the commodity “safety net” features of the new federal farm bill, conservation provisions within that bill are highly important to the cause of wildlife conservation.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee has had a look at that new legislation, and reports that it features several things that bode well for wildlife preservation. OUT 12-21
12-14-18COTTONTAIL RABBIT NUMBERS– Prolific as they are, eastern cottontail rabbit numbers have been slowly declining in the plains region in recent years.  This is largely due to changes in favorable habitat, though this rabbit remains quite abundant, and is in no way threatened or endangered. K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about the nature of eastern cottontail rabbits, including some facts that most people don’t know.OUT 12-14 
12-07-18STARLINGS AND FEED BUNKS– Large numbers of starlings inhabiting livestock feeding facilities can be costly to the producer.  Those birds are notorious for consuming grain out of feed bunks, which can end up impeding livestock performance.  A recent study in Colorado attempted to pin down the components of a dairy cattle ration that appeal the most to starlings. The results may serve as a step toward a solution to this problem.OUT 12-07 
11-30-18DEER REACTION TO HUNTERS – Surprisingly, in spite of the popularity of firearms deer hunting, very little research has been done on deer movements in the presence of hunters.  A new study conducted in Oklahoma recorded deer behavior as hunters encroached on their habitat.  The findings may help explain the elusiveness of deer during hunting season.OUT 11-30
11-23-18PROZAC AND STARLINGS– When it comes to human pharmaceutical products ending up in the environment, the impact on wildlife species is not well understood.  A recent study tackles part of that big question, as researchers looked at how residues of a popular anti-depressant affected starlings that eventually came in contact with it.OUT 11-23
11-16-18INSECTICIDES AND QUAIL– The 30 years of decline in quail populations parallels the introduction and use of an important class of crop insecticides, known as neonicotinoids (knee-oh-NICK-ah-tin-oids).  Recently, scientists conducted an extensive study in Texas to see if there is a correlation between the two. OUT 11-16
11-09-18NEW RODENTICIDE OPTION– Pocket gophers and voles can cause enough damage in crop fields to merit a response from producers.  Controlling those rodents has become more complicated, as they have developed a resistance to the most frequently-used rodenticides.  Recently, the USDA evaluated another product which, in combination with those rodenticides, rendered good control results. K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee looks at the results.OUT 11-09 
11-02-18GARTER SNAKE INVASION– Harmless as they are, garter snakes are on the move this fall, seeking winter hibernation sites...often turning up in homes and outbuildings. Wildlife specialist Charlie Lee offers some background on the kinds of garter snakes found in Kansas and how homeowners can take action to keep them outside.OUT 11-02
10-26-18COYOTES AND DOGS– As coyote numbers in urban and suburban areas continue to climb, dog owners are increasingly concerned about potential coyote attacks on their animals.  The interaction of coyotes and dogs was the subject of a recent study that used social media videos to document such incidents. OUT 10-26
10-19-18BOWHUNTING AND DEER CONTROL– Primarily for safety reasons, urban wildlife control officials promote bowhunting as a preferred means of deer population control. There’s been a concern, however, about how effective archery equipment is in harvesting deer cleanly, and with a high recovery rate. That was the subject of a long-term study that K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee reviews this week.OUT 10-19 
10-12-18FERAL CATS AND RATS– Feral cats prey on a variety of other species in both urban and rural habitats.  When contending with a rat problem in a given area, many think of feral cats as a means of effective rat control.  K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee. says a new study indicates just the opposite. OUT 10-12
10-05-18BACKGROUND ON COPPERHEADS– One of the five venomous snakes found in Kansas, the copperhead, resides largely in the eastern half of the state.  And while people should refrain from tampering with copperheads, they are somewhat less dangerous than other venomous species. K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee talks about the nature and traits of copperheads. OUT 10-05
09-28-18LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN RESEARCH– A recent study by researchers at Kansas State University examined how useful Conservation Reserve Program grasslands are as nesting areas for the Lesser Prairie Chicken. K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee discusses the findings of that research.OUT 09-28
09-21-18NON-LETHAL PRAIRIE DOG CONTROL– A study on non-lethal prairie dog control looks promising for use in residential areas where prairie dogs often cause damage to home landscapes.OUT 09-21  
09-14-18GUARDIAN DOG ISSUES– For centuries, guardian dogs have been used to ward predators away from livestock herds and flocks.  In recent times, however, the number of livestock owners who use guardian dogs in that capacity have been relatively few.  A recent report addressed why there is such limited use of this livestock protection practice.OUT 09-14
09-07-18WILDLIFE AND MORTALITY PITS– Large livestock facilities often feature mortality disposal areas, often called pits, for disposing of deceased livestock.  Up until recently, there have been no studies of wildlife behavior in the proximity of those.  Now, new research out of Colorado suggests that various wildlife do frequent these facilities, which in some cases could be problematic. OUT 09-07
08-31-18POCKET GOPHER CONTROL– The digging activity by pocket gophers can be damaging to alfalfa and other hay fields, which in turn can be costly for growers.  There are a handful of toxicant products on the market for pocket gopher control, but their effectiveness in inconsistent.  Now, a new study suggests that combining those products could result in improved control.OUT 08-31
08-24-18TURKEY VULTURE STUDY– The role of turkey vultures as scavengers in the ecosystem is greatly underappreciated. In fact, a new study indicates that if turkey vultures were to decline in number, other wildlife would not be able to take up the slack in cleaning up carrion.OUT 08-24 
08-17-18ZINC PHOSPHIDE IMPROVEMENT– As a control product for rodent problems in agricultural settings and elsewhere, zinc phosphide can perform very well.  However, it has exhibited one important flaw…it’s often not palatable to some rodents, meaning that residual product may remain on site as a threat to off-target species like birds. Researchers are attempting to correct that problem. OUT 08-17
08-10-18SWIFT FOX RECOVERY– After decades of decline, swift fox populations are on the upswing in the High Plains region.  This is happening in spite of ongoing confrontations with coyotes.  Recent research out of Texas Tech University sought to quantify the impact of coyote predation on swift foxes. OUT 08-10
08-03-18WILD HORSES ISSUE– Efforts have been in place for well over 40 years to sustainably manage wild horses and burros in the western rangelands of the United States.  So far, they have not succeeded in curbing the boom in their populations, which is swiftly leading to rangeland degradation…and that includes negative consequences for other wildlife. OUT 08-03 
07-27-18RACCOON EVICTION PRODUCTS– Raccoons will seek out every opportunity to find secure shelter, which in some cases may be an attic or chimney.  Hiring a wildlife control professional to deal with those situations is one course of action, or another is to use a raccoon eviction product. But just how effective are they?OUT 07-27 
07-20-18CITIZEN COYOTE HAZING– Coyote encroachment into urban areas is of increasing concern.  Recently, there was an attempt in the Denver area to enlist the help of the public in encouraging coyotes to go elsewhere. It was based on citizens “hazing” coyotes. Find out what was done and the results of that effort. OUT 07-20
07-13-18MOUSE CONTROL STUDY– There are scores of products on the market for controlling mice in homes and outbuildings.  Their effectiveness was the subject of a recent USDA study, and the findings were quite surprising.OUT 07-13 
07-06-18KANGAROO RAT FACTS– Although a nocturnal animal, kangaroo rats can frequently be observed in the western half of Kansas.  This unique rodent has capabilities that allow it to survive threats from predators and harsh weather conditions.OUT 07-06 
06-29-18ANTELOPE PREDATION RESEARCH– While pronghorn antelope numbers in the High Plains appear to be relatively stable, concerns over predation losses continue. Coyotes, adept at preying on young antelope, has prompted research into the extent of that impact. OUT 06-29 
06-22-18ROADRUNNERS IN KANSAS– Likely because of increased habitat availability, the greater roadrunner can be found more frequently these days in the southern half of Kansas.  It’s a quite unique bird, and is enjoyable to observe when possible. Learn more about the biology of the roadrunner and the findings from an interesting study of its habitat preferences. OUT 06-22
06-15-18LIVESTOCK PREDATION EVIDENCE– As part of his assignment as an Extension wildlife specialist, K-State’s Charlie Lee travels the state, helping livestock producers identify wildlife predation on their stock. Before heading to the site to assess a situation, he asks producers to preserve the scene as much as possible, so that it can be confirmed that a predator is in fact responsible for that loss of livestock.   OUT 06-15
06-08-18PRAIRIE RATTLESNAKES IN KANSAS– While the prairie rattlesnake is often misunderstood and feared,  it actually poses little danger – if left alone. Knowing where you’re most likely to find prairie rattlesnakes in Kansas and what to do if you happen to cross paths with one is extremely important.OUT 06-08
06-01-18CURBING WOODPECKER DAMAGE– Every year, woodpeckers cause widespread damage to wood-sided homes and outbuildings. There’s been a lot of research in how to prevent this damage. But, what works and doesn't work?OUT 06-01
05-25-18WESTERN MEADOWLARK STATUS– For nearly a century, the western meadowlark has been designated as the state bird of Kansas.  Historically, it has thrived in the central plains environment.  But wildlife experts have noted that western meadowlark numbers have declined some in recent decades, and that deserves some attention. OUT 05-25
05-18-18RIVER OTTER RECOVERY– For years, the river otter was in a state of decline in this country.  However, through a concerted national effort to restore the otter, it has now made a highly-successful comeback.  And it can now be found commonly in many Kansas rivers and streams. OUT 05-18
05-11-18DEER TICK CONTROL– The ticks are out in full force this spring.  Deer and rodents are common carriers of ticks, and therefore can be at the center of tick control efforts.  This week, K-State wildlife specialist Charlie Lee covers some of the research-proven approaches to reducing tick numbers in a given setting, including a new system that is showing good promise.OUT 05-11 
05-04-18HUMMINGBIRD FEEDING APPROACH– The ever-popular hummingbirds are now migrating northward, and have already been seen in Kansas.  So it’s time for homeowners who want to encourage hummingbirds to stick around to put out their feeders. OUT 05-04
04-27-18CRAPPIE BEHAVIOR STUDY– The peak time for crappie fishing will soon be at hand.  The challenge for anglers is finding the crappie ahead of and during spawning.  That’s where the findings of a new study out of Kentucky may prove helpful.   OUT 04-27
04-20-18SERIOUS BAT DISEASE– A punishing disease called white-nose syndrome is hitting bat populations hard throughout the eastern half of the U.S.  And now, it has been confirmed in two counties in Kansas. Bats are a vastly underappreciated species that deserve preservation, and a multi-agency effort is now underway to address this serious disease problem.OUT 04-20
04-13-18DEER REFLECTOR SIGNS– As a way to combat the problem of deer collisions with vehicles, some states have deployed what are called wildlife warning reflectors along the sides of roadways.  These are intended to frighten deer away from the road as a vehicle approaches.  A recent study evaluated how well those perform, and arrived at a surprising result.OUT 04-13
04-06-18NORWAY RAT CONTROL– The property damage that Norway rats can inflict around homes and farmsteads can be substantial. However, taking measures to control these common rodents is a simple multi-step process. OUT 04-06