CFR News Wildlife & Fisheries Stories


A Bird on the Water is Worth Two to the Farmer

A Bird on the Water is Worth Two to the Farmer

From the arid fields of New Mexico to the winter-flooded rice fields of the Mississippi Delta, Alexandra Firth has developed a passion at the intersection of agriculture and soil conservation.

After graduating with a degree in ecology from Humboldt State in Northern California, the Phoenix native's career as a biological technician took her all over the U.S. and briefly to Europe. It was while working on an organic farm in New Mexico, h...


Our People: Thomas Rovery

Our People: Thomas Rovery

Rising Mississippi State wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture junior and Memphis, Tennessee, native Thomas Rovery has always had a curiosity for reptiles, with a particular interest in snakes.

"As a kid, I was always outside, pointing out camouflaged snakes, trying to identify lizards in the grass or showing off a turtle I'd found," Rovery said.

In high school, he discovered a way to satisfy his curiosity while also gaining ...


MSU deer biologist wins prestigious applied research award

MSU deer biologist wins prestigious applied research award

A Mississippi State professor in the College of Forest Resources is being recognized with a prestigious applied research award by the nation's premier wildlife science organization.

Professor Steve Demarais is the recipient of the Caesar Kleberg Award for Excellence in Applied Wildlife Research from The Wildlife Society. He will be honored at the group's annual conference held virtually November 1-5.

This Caesar Kleberg Wil...


Don't Wing the Future

Don't Wing the Future

Power companies across the nation spend millions of dollars each year repairing and replacing utility poles damaged by woodpeckers. Researchers in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center are putting their heads together to develop a predictive map of where such damages will likely occur, giving power companies a proactive and cheaper way to head off damage before the pecking even begins.

The Tennessee Valley Authority keeps the lights o...


MSU scientist returns to community-driven vulture study, relying on 'citizen scientists'

MSU scientist returns to community-driven vulture study, relying on 'citizen scientists'

A Mississippi State-led study using "citizen science" is entering its second year of data collection that ultimately could yield solutions to vulture-aircraft collisions.

MSU College of Forest Resources Associate Professor Scott Rush said he expects to deliver scientific-based recommendations from the analysis to mitigate this human-wildlife conflict, a frequent challenge for military pilots who encounter the birds during take-off, l...


Covering the Basics: Understanding the Ideal Habitat for Wild Game

Covering the Basics: Understanding the Ideal Habitat for Wild Game

There is a common misconception in the hunting world that plentiful food supply equals frequent visits by white-tailed deer or wild turkey to a specific habitat. Hunters plant food plots, place spin feeders, yet don't see the wildlife activity for which they had planned. What is missing from the equation is an equally important factor…cover.

Much like an animal needs food and water, they also need adequate shelter. That is why res...


MSU researchers build madtom catfish hotels for business of conserving imperiled species

MSU researchers build madtom catfish hotels for business of conserving imperiled species

Mississippi State researchers are discovering that opening hotels—fish hotels—for 'checking in' on imperiled, hard-to-find aquatic species is a valuable business.

Built specifically for frecklebelly madtom catfish, MSU fisheries biologists are seeing that the new housing aids them in studying the freshwater species for more effective conservation strategies.

Averaging under four inches in length and native to ri...


MSU's targeted conservation tool aims to improve profitability for farmers

MSU's targeted conservation tool aims to improve profitability for farmers

Two Mississippi State researchers and pioneers in the growing field of economically targeted conservation are showing farmers that making money off their land can be feasible even when the land isn't producing.

Wes Burger and Mark McConnell, MSU researchers in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, are launching the MSU Precision Conservation Tool, a decision-making software that identifies precise locations where conservation prac...


Scientists Search for Peak 'Gobble' Season

Scientists Search for Peak 'Gobble' Season

Each spring, turkey hunters cover themselves from head to toe in camouflage, head into the woods to find the perfect spot, take out a small wooden box and begin moving the top of the box to make a screeching sound which mimics a female. Their objective is to engage the elusive male turkey. Spring turkey hunting is a mix of tradition, culture, and economics. It occurs when turkeys are at the height of courtship. Males gobble and strut in full-f...


Wild at heart

Wild at heart

Rick Dillard's love of the outdoors serves him well as fish and wildlife program manager for the U.S. Forest Service. His passion has been a guiding force in his professional and personal life. The Potts Camp, Mississippi native and CFR alumnus comes from a long line of hunters, fishermen, and trappers.

"I fished with my grandmother before I could even carry a fishing pole. My most vivid memory, however, happened later. I was nine the fi...


Dr. L. E.

Dr. L. E. "Steve" Miranda Named SEAFWA 2020 C. W. Watson Award Winner

The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) bestowed the Clarence W. Watson Award upon Dr. Leandro Esteban "Steve" Miranda during its 74th annual meeting, held virtually Oct. 26-28.

Miranda has been a prominent freshwater fisheries biologist for the USGS Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit since 1986.The award is the highest honor given by the Association and is presented in conjunction wit...


Scientists at work: Sloshing through marshes to see how birds survive hurricanes

Scientists at work: Sloshing through marshes to see how birds survive hurricanes

As Huricane Zeta menaces the Gulf Coast, residents know the drill: Board up windows, clear storm drains, gas up the car and stock up on water, batteries and canned goods.

But how does wildlife ride out a hurricane? Animals that live along coastlines have evolved to deal with a world where conditions can change radically. This year, however, the places they inhabit have borne the brunt of 10 named storms, some just a few weeks apart.

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USFWS director to MSU students: Collective efforts can 'tackle complex wildlife, conservation management issues'

USFWS director to MSU students: Collective efforts can 'tackle complex wildlife, conservation management issues'

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith smiles when she reflects on childhood summers spent at her grandfather's farm in Columbus. As one of the nation's leading natural resource professionals, Skipwith recently shared these memories and other insights with students in Mississippi State's College of Forest Resources as part of a special virtual seminar.

"Conservation and Mississippi are close to my heart. One of the ...


A New Face in Bird Research

A New Face in Bird Research

Murry Burgess was alone, reaching her hand into a swallow's nest from the top of a 16-foot ladder in a barn in rural North Carolina, when she realized something didn't seem right. Rather than the familiar texture of small chicks, she felt something smooth, slick and scaly.

"There is a huge black rat snake just sitting in the nest, chilling, after eating my research," Burgess said.

Eastern rat snakes (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) a...


Where Have All the Bucks Gone?

Where Have All the Bucks Gone?

It's finally here and it feels like you've waited all year for this. The trail cams have been set out for months. You've been watching. You think you know who's who. There's one in particular. A ten-point buck you've seen on the camera a half a dozen times at least. It's a perfect predawn Saturday with a calm breeze. You head to the blind. You wait and wait and wonder where has the buck gone?

This scenario happens more often than many hu...


Our People: Sean Moskal

Our People: Sean Moskal

Senior wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major Sean Moskal has three main passions which have all been cultivated by family: hockey, magic and the great outdoors.

A native of Germantown, Tennessee, he grew up playing hockey and attended Christian Brothers High School, where he was the starting goalie on the Frozen Wave ice hockey team that his uncle founded years earlier. His whole family loves the sport, and Moskal even has had th...


The Wildlife Society selects MSU College of Forest Resources faculty member as fellow

The Wildlife Society selects MSU College of Forest Resources faculty member as fellow

A Mississippi State College of Forest Resources faculty member is acquiring the prestigious title of fellow from The Wildlife Society.

Leslie Burger, assistant extension professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, will be honored at the organization's annual conference to held virtually Sept. 28-Oct. 2. As one of the highest awards bestowed by TWS, the honor recognizes Burger for her remarkable service to the wild...


MSU's Shamaskin selected for national marine policy fellowship

MSU's Shamaskin selected for national marine policy fellowship

Andrew Shamaskin, a Ph.D. candidate studying land conservation at Mississippi State University, has been selected as a finalist for the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. A panel of professionals selected him to serve as one of 74 fellows through a highly competitive process.

He will spend one year in Washington, D.C., gaining experience with the policy-making process in agencies and committees that deal with marine a...


Mississippi State develops smartphone app to assess wild hog damage

Mississippi State develops smartphone app to assess wild hog damage

According to a Mississippi State research study, feral pigs cause $66 million in property damage in the Magnolia State each year. With the wild hog population increases and damage estimates constantly changing, it's now easier to report and assess impacts with a newly designed MSU app.

The "Feral Pig Damage" app makes it easy for users to report the location of wild hog sightings and the damage they cause. Users can pinpoint or dra...


MSU invites community to report vultures

MSU invites community to report vultures

Vultures and airplanes have difficulty sharing air space. Now the predominantly black bird of prey may be sporting a bright orange wing tag, designed to help researchers study its flight path.

Scientists at Mississippi State are asking for citizen scientists to report sightings to help determine, among other things, the flight pattern of the mammoth bird.

Scott Rush, an associate professor in the wildlife, fisheries and aqu...


Tracking Beavers: Researchers study American beavers for wildlife management

Tracking Beavers: Researchers study American beavers for wildlife management

The American beaver, once prized for its pelt, is now frequently considered a nuisance for the extensive damage they can cause to crops, timber, and roadways. There is limited economic data on the damage caused by beavers, however, estimates for southern states reach millions of dollars.

Since beavers are a species of management concern across the U.S. and especially in the South, MSU researchers are investigating beaver ecology to help...


Legacy of the Lakes: How depth defines lakes in the Delta

Legacy of the Lakes: How depth defines lakes in the Delta

The hundreds of floodplain lakes that dot the landscape of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain between Cairo, Illinois and Baton Rouge, Louisiana tell a story that spans the ages. These lakes were created by the meandering of prehistoric river systems, the Mississippi River, and other contemporary rivers that flow through the valley to join the Mississippi River. While rich in legacy, lakes also serve as a water source for Delta farmers. Forest and...


From the Ground Up: MSU wildlife researchers use UAVs to help conserve bird species, habitats

From the Ground Up: MSU wildlife researchers use UAVs to help conserve bird species, habitats

Unmanned aerial vehicles are taking flight to aid Mississippi State researchers in a quest to improve grassland bird conservation, safeguarding the storied feathered vertebrates that are nationally in decline.

UAVs are assisting MSU researchers in the university's Forest and Wildlife Research Center in detecting quail coveys. The new method for estimating bird population also provides a faster, more accurate and less disruptive way t...


One-of-a-kind toad born through MSU pioneering technology that's saving threatened species

One-of-a-kind toad born through MSU pioneering technology that's saving threatened species

A Mississippi State University partnership with the Fort Worth Zoo has hatched the first of more than 30 metamorphosed toadlets produced through in vitro fertilization.

A Puerto Rican crested toad named Olaf, hatched at the Fort Worth Zoo this year, is what one might call a work of art. ART, or assisted reproductive technologies, developed by scientists in the university's Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the ...


MSU's Kevin Hunt named Sharp Professor of Human Dimensions

MSU's Kevin Hunt named Sharp Professor of Human Dimensions

The College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University is honoring a wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture faculty member with the esteemed Sharp Professorship.

"We congratulate Dr. Kevin Hunt on this great honor," said George Hopper, dean of the College of Forest Resources and director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. "For nearly 20 years, Dr. Hunt's research in human dimensions as it pertains to wildlife has helpe...


MSU researchers make surprising wolf diet discovery, highlight ecosystem complexities

MSU researchers make surprising wolf diet discovery, highlight ecosystem complexities

Mississippi State University researchers are shifting commonly held ideas about the diet of grey wolves in a newly published article gaining national attention.

Published in the scientific journal "Ecology," MSU assistant professor Brandon Barton's Sept. 18 article "Grasshopper consumption by grey wolves and implications for ecosystems" details the unexpected effects of wolf reintroduction into the western region of the U.S.

MSU ...


MSU collaborates on $3.9 million NOAA grant to help Gulf Coast birds, conserve biodiversity

MSU collaborates on $3.9 million NOAA grant to help Gulf Coast birds, conserve biodiversity

Mississippi State University scientists are receiving a five-year, $3.9 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's RESTORE Science Program to increase understanding of how birds use the Gulf of Mexico, helping resource managers improve habitat for coastal species.

The MSU-led group is one of only four teams of researchers and resource managers from across 20 institutions including universities, federal and s...


A quill in the cap for quail management

A quill in the cap for quail management

A century ago, the bobwhite quail, named for its distinctive whistle, was common throughout the Southeast. In 1966, however, scientists began tracking a drastic population drop. Over the next fifty years, the species declined by 85 percent. Forest and Wildlife Research Center scientists are doing their part in restoration efforts of this granivore, whose storied legacy is steeped in tradition.

Not only was the bobwhite's song once ubiq...


MSU associate professor receives Fulbright grant for research in Chile

MSU associate professor receives Fulbright grant for research in Chile

An aquaculture scientist in Mississippi State's Forest and Wildlife Research Center is the newest university faculty member to receive the prestigious Fulbright grant to conduct research abroad as part of the U.S. Department of State's flagship exchange program.

The associate professor in the MSU Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture in the College of Forest Resources is spending the next six months conducting research at...


MSU joins Urban Wildlife Information Network

MSU joins Urban Wildlife Information Network

Have you ever considered all of the wildlife that live hidden around your neighborhood, tucked in small patches of woods? Where does the raccoon that riffles through the garbage bin or the deer that eats your mother's azaleas go once the sun rises at dawn?

Researchers from Mississippi State University are teaming up with the Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN) to discove...


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