Farms are great places to see wildlife - not only because
of the vast open space, but also for the availability of food.
Many farmers use propane cannons and other methods to keep
wildlife off of their crops, but Salt Plains NWR uses farming
as a method to feed wildlife.
refuge doesn't feed wildlife to draw them to the refuge -
the animals are already here. Farming is a supplement to natural
foods; increasing the food that the habitat supplies to the
animals. In addition, it allows a safe resting spot for migrating
waterfowl and helps to keep them off private farm fields.
Each winter, 1100 acres of the refuge are
farmed with wheat. This wheat will help migrating geese
and cranes rest and feed as they move through the area.
millet and sunflowers are three of the other species that
the refuge farms during the year. These are high energy foods
for migrating waterfowl.
food that wildlife eats during migration plays a specific
role in the life stage of the migrant. Foods high in fats
and proteins will give the bird enough energy to fly south,
as well as develop breeding plumage needed to attract a
they fly north in the spring, waterfowl will be preparing
to nest. Wildlife body mass must have just the right combination
of lipids and carbohydrates in order to lay eggs when they
get to their nesting grounds.
at their nesting sites, they have to have the proper nutrition
to feed their young and undergo their molt as they prepare
for the next migration.
the summer months, many wetlands on the refuge are drained.
Some of these wetlands will be farmed.
portions of these fields fill back with water, wildlife
are able to find a good food source and water together.
Farming is a part of providing what wildlife need, but must
work in conjunction with moist-soil
management to fill all dietary needs. With smaller acreage
of habitat required to feed large numbers of wildlife, farming
is essential for healthy wildlife populations.
August 7, 2007
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