By JOSH GRIFFIN
DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife
Beat cabin fever and help wildlife by tackling habitat improvement projects this winter.
Late winter is the best time to pursue many wildlife habitat projects. The ground is often dry or frozen, the timing prevents conflicts with nesting wildlife in spring, and managing wooded and shrubby areas is easier to do before leaves emerge and sap flows.
Some winter habitat management suggestions follow.
- Conduct woodland edge enhancement and fencerow rejuvenation. Winter is the best time to cut brush, limbs and trees for “feathering” edges between mature woodlands and grasslands, wetlands or agricultural areas.
- Create forest openings. Forest openings benefit numerous wildlife species, and now is the best time to make such openings.
- Make brush piles. Brush piles create escape-cover for game birds, songbirds, small mammals, and many other forms of wildlife. Piles placed close to transitional areas between habitat types provide increased benefits.
- Build and hang nesting boxes. Winter is a great time of year to buy or build nesting boxes and strategically place them.
- Clean and maintain nesting boxes. If you already have nesting boxes, clean them to prepare them for spring use.
- Frost seed. Winter soil conditions are optimal for planting small seeds. Common frost-seeding species include introduced legumes such as clovers, alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil. Frost seeding also can be effective for warm-season grasses, wildflowers and food plots.
- Employ sodium supplementation: Rabbits are one of many mammals that benefit from sodium supplementation. Crush salt blocks and distribute the fragments along field borders and habitat edges. Late winter and early spring is when mammals benefit most from sodium supplementation. Sodium supplementation is not to be confused with using baits, lures or attractants while hunting, which is illegal.
Further information on species and habit is at wildlife.IN.gov/2352.htm under “Landowner Assistance.”
You may also contact your district wildlife biologist, listed at wildlife.IN.gov/fishwild/2716.htm.