Managing Your Property for Wildlife
Wildlife and the Outdoors
Managing Your Property for Wildlife
By Ericha Nix, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
Have you looked at your property and wondered how to improve it for hunting or wildlife? Do you stand in your wildlife plot and wonder if your deer herd or forests are healthy? Or, are you someone who has that infamous habitat enhancement project to-do list and does not know where to begin? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you aren’t alone.
Landowners often want to manage their land for wildlife, fishing, timber or other recreational uses. With the easy access of an abundance of information today, landowners have greatly increased their knowledge about wildlife and habitat management practices. However, a problem can occur when a landowner applies newly learned information to a management situation that is not applicable for reaching the intended goal(s).
No fear! There are technical people available to help you. There are many avenues available for seeking assistance in managing your land. The first place to start is with state and federal government agencies. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries has wildlife and fisheries biologists on staff with their main focus being landowner assistance. Technical assistance is provided at no cost regarding proper management of fish ponds, food plots, prescribed burning, harvest recommendations, etc. A wildlife or fisheries biologist will make verbal and written recommendations and all guidance is tailored around each landowner’s specific goals and objectives. Biologists can also assist you with information and point you in the right direction regarding cost share programs. There are no acreage restrictions, you just need to own or lease land in
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) are both federal agencies that offer and administer cost share programs to private landowners who want to manage their habitat for wildlife. Though many of these programs target threatened and endangered species or diminishing habitat types, these same habitat improvement practices are also great for many other wildlife species. To obtain more information on cost share programs check out www.nrcs.usda.gov or www.fsa.usda.gov. To find a local office near you, check the blue pages of your county phone book.
Forestry assistance is also available through the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC). County foresters are registered foresters that will visit your property, give you advice on managing forestland and provide you with a forest management plan. The agency also provides other services such as prescribed burning and firebreak construction for a nominal fee. For more information regarding these programs or other services check out the AFC website at www.forestry.state.al.us; or to find an office near you, check the blue pages of your county phone book.
There is also the option to hire wildlife, forestry and fisheries consultants. Consultants do charge a fee for their services and will perform or contract out the work if the landowner does not want to do it on his or her own. To find a consultant in your area, check the local phone book or county plat book for listings.
Utilizing these tools will not only help you manage your natural resources properly and efficiently, it will also save you time and money. Remember, assistance is just a phone call away!