Donald Reed, Chaney, John A., Crain, John Barry | 8/26/2005 2:12:40 AM
ALEXANDRIA – With the opening of dove hunting season Sept. 3, the LSU AgCenter and others recently held a dove field day to help Louisiana hunters and landowners develop habitat for doves, understand the rules of hunting and enjoy the outdoors.
"This is an opportunity for hunters, farmers, landowners and others to learn about land management and laws regulating food plots," said LSU AgCenter forestry and wildlife specialist Dr. Don Reed.
About 50 participants who attended the field day Saturday (Aug. 20) at the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research Station south of Alexandria had an opportunity to learn about dove management practices from experienced wildlife biologists, agronomists and enforcement personnel. The Dean Lee Research Station showcases how the combination of agronomic crops, native grasses and pasture grasses can be used to attract and hold mourning doves.
"The combination of agronomic crop diversity, pasture grasses, small grains and native perennial grasses create a food habitat to help maintain and hold doves at the Dean Lee Research Station," said LSU AgCenter wildlife and forestry agent Barry Crain.
In addition, while speaking from the back of a truck near a plot of native perennial grasses, wildlife biologist John Pitre and plant materials specialist Scott Edwards with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service explained how landowners can establish such grasses on their property to enhance the habitat of doves and other wildlife species.
In addition, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has programs to help share the cost of the establishment of these grasses through its Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and CP-33 Program. Edwards encouraged participants to sign up for programs and get cost-sharing funds to establish wildlife habitats.
EQIP is an incentive program primarily used to convert field cropland to pasture for grazing livestock. WHIP provides incentives to convert farmland into suitable wildlife habitat. CRP is a large-scale cropland retirement program created in the 1985 Farm Bill to control the supply of commodities and reduce soil erosion, and over the years it has evolved into a multipurpose conservation reserve program with many benefits to wildlife. CP-33 provides incentives to establish nesting habitat for nesting birds such as doves, quails and others.
During the field day, LSU AgCenter experts also led a tour of the small grain plots planted at the station to demonstrate the need for diversity and to discuss the cost and management practices associated with each grain species such as corn, milo, sunflowers and millet.
"Basically anything that grows in the field, whether it’s natural or planted, can be manipulated in a variety of ways such as cutting, harvesting or burning to make the grain more available to the doves," Reed said.
While guiding the group through a series of grain plantings, Lt. Col. Keith LaCaze with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement division and Special Agent Phillip Siragusa of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illustrated the legality of planting and manipulating crops to attract doves for the purpose of hunting.
"You must follow Cooperative Extension Service recommendations for planting a crop to be legal," said Siragusa, adding that the crop cannot be used as a bait to attract doves.
The field day was sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the LSU AgCenter and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
For additional information on the rules and regulations of land management for wildlife, contact your parish’s LSU AgCenter office or the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. For general information on this and a variety of topics, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.