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Creating Wildlife Cover

Give wildlife a place to hide, nest, eat, and run.

Creating Cover

By Jodi Henke

Providing habitat for wildlife is critical for maintaining and restoring populations. But its success depends on the right balance of components for nesting, foraging, and escape.

Extension wildlife specialist Brian MacGowan, Purdue University, says many people want to see more wildlife on their land and are looking for ways to enhance habitat. However, creating a habitat can be overwhelming. That's because there are often hundreds of potential species living on a rural property. "My recommendation is to focus on one or two species that could be surrogate species for the rest of the diversity of wildlife that could potentially use the property," says MacGowan. "Something like wild turkey or deer."

Focus on the edge of the woods

Very often the requirements of one species will overlap with those of another. If you have a woodland area, your effort should be focused on the outer edges usually adjacent to a pasture or field. Gradually transitioning from timberland to grassland will accommodate many species. Vary the height of grasses and shrubs by thinning out 25% to 75% of the canopy along the edge.

"Create snags along the edge by girdling the undesirable trees," says MacGowan. "You'll get a lot of new undergrowth over the next several years because of the opening in the forest canopy. Fallen treetops and new vegetation provide good cover for songbirds and small mammals. You can also construct brush piles. The best arrangement is large logs on the bottom and smaller limbs on top."

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