As deer season comes to an end each year in South Mississippi, the season for wildlife habitat improvements is beginning. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) personnel will start prescribed burning on selected areas of state-owned WMAs in early February. The seasonal, controlled use of fire is essential to enhancing and maintaining habitat for numerous game and non-game species of wildlife. Prescribed burning reduces competition from undesirable woody plant species, reduces potential of wildfire, reduces disease risk for longleaf pine seedlings, and promotes growth of desirable herbaceous vegetation favorable to many wildlife species.

Once the spring growing season begins, MDWFP personnel will also begin treating non-native invasive plant species such as cogongrass. Spot treatments with selective chemical herbicides helps control many invasive species. These invasive species often have little to no wildlife habitat value, spread aggressively, and out-compete desirable native vegetation.

Additionally, timber harvest activities are planned for some state-owned WMAs. During the fall and winter, MDWFP personnel conduct timber inventory cruises and prioritize areas that need forest management. Selective timber thinning not only improves tree health but improves wildlife habitat as well by opening the forest canopy and allowing sunlight to reach the ground. Sunlight along with soil disturbance promotes the growth of desirable vegetation that provides food and cover for many wildlife species.

Logo courtesy Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks

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