The Key to Wildlife Management
The number one objective of wildlife and habitat management is to create and maintain balanced, productive and healthy ecosystems. A productive ecosystem is the result of the balanced interaction between its plant and animal communities, and its soil, water, air and sunlight. As large farms and ranches across the US continue to be fragmented to satisfy the needs of an ever-increasing human population the creativity of both landowners and natural resource managers is constantly challenged to create or adapt management plans to restore and maintain habitat fragments that support healthy wildlife populations.
In every state, small acreage landowners can reap the benefits of healthy ecosystems over the years by applying adequate land management practices suitable to their particular site conditions and their long-term management goals. Food, cover or shelter, and water as well as their proper distribution across the landscape are essential elements to be considered when managing for increased habitat and wildlife diversity.
Wildlife Management Means Plant Diversity
Managing plant diversity for wildlife. Plants form the basis of food resources and shelter structures for wildlife, therefore, at least a basic knowledge of the plant species—grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees- present on the land is important in the development of any habitat or wildlife management plan. In general, sites with higher plant diversity will support a greater diversity of wildlife. A diversity of plants that produce foliage, fruit, seeds and nectar during different seasons of the year is highly desirable. Planting a diversity of native brush species will create an increased and varied number of food items available and vegetation layers; an abundance of food and cover options almost always results in a greater diversity of animals be they arthropods, reptiles, insects, birds or mammals.
The reforestation of areas between adjacent wooded patches can reduce bird nest predation and the restoration of native grassland areas linking small vegetated parcels can lessen the effect of fragmentation in favor of birds whose survival depends on relatively large tracts of suitable habitat. Periodic prescribed burning can reinvigorate grass species and control encroaching brush species on grassland sites that are important to game and non-game grassland birds. In these communities mature woody plants can be managed or treated individually to make sure they provide habitat and perching and resting sites for other groups of birds.
Wildlife Management Practices for Better Habitat
Depending on the situation, numerous habitat management practices, too many to properly address here, are available to the land owners and managers. The management activities help to change, either up or down, the abundance or presence of the plant species on the property. Managers will want to encourage “good” plants and discourage “bad” ones. These classifications will vary by property, as well as the goals and objectives of the land owner.
Habitat management practices often include the control of invasive wildlife species, brush control, range planting, deer population management, and livestock grazing management, just to name a few. These wildlife management activities can increase wildlife diversity on a specific parcel of land or in an entire region.