AgCenter research associate Michael Becker, stood in front a pen of captive white-tailed deer and told about studies to help combat viruses that lead to hemorrhagic disease in cattle and deer — an illness that has been detrimental to deer populations nationwide.
“The disease is caused by two related viruses — epizootic hemorrhagic disease or bluetongue virus,” said Becker. “Some symptoms that deer have these viruses are they’re lethargic and they have excessive salivation and oral lesions.”
Some midges have been correlated with deer deaths, so Becker monitors on-site rotator traps to gather information on the insects. Besides testing midge larvae, researchers have been taking blood samples from deer and cattle to test for antibodies.
“Deer deaths usually go undiagnosed, but we’ve found that viruses can even be detected post-mortem in bone marrow — months after,” Becker said.
Idlewild Research Station director Glen Gentry told about the crucial role artificial insemination has played in maintaining the white-tailed deer herd.
“These experiments are for genetic improvement,” Gentry said. “Results have indicated that both transcervical and laparoscopic procedures result in improved pregnancy rates.”
Feral hog research has been ongoing at the research station as well. Research associate Tyler Woodard, who has studied the effectiveness of hog traps, showed various trap models.
“Over two years, we’ve worked with 66 landowners to remove more than 400 hogs,” Woodard said.
He explained test results of various trapping systems, including one which alerts the landowner by sending a live video stream via smartphone from inside the trap.
“We rent some of these traps out to landowners for $150 a month for up to four months,” Woodard said.
Robert Hutchinson has timber on parts of his family’s 55-acre dairy operation near the village of Tangipahoa. He said he appreciates the high priority given to research aimed at minimizing wild hog populations.
“One time I saw 40 or 50 hogs in a field,” Hutchinson said. “They wipe an area out, and it creates ruts everywhere.”
Gentry told the visitors that the hog bait Kaput was permanently banned in Texas and has been indefinitely suspended in Louisiana because of potential danger to non-target animals. Researchers at Idlewild are developing a sodium nitrite bait delivery system made from fish.
“Toxicants alone won’t solve the problem,” Gentry said. “One of the latest reports says 180,000 wild hogs were removed, but there are still 600,000 remaining,”
The tour stopped between a thick Loblolly pine forest and a section of pine trees thinned as part of a management system.
“We’re changing direction to address issues people are having,” Gentry said. “A very good habitat for wildlife is also good for hunting leases.”
Current projects at the station include improving stands, controlling weeds and best practices for utilization of forest products.
“We’re doing research here for a balance of wildlife and forestry management,” Gentry said.
Whitney Wallace, AgCenter agent in Tangipahoa Parish, helped organize the tour. She also is a timber landowner and secretary of the Tangipahoa Parish Forestry Association.
“We keep our members informed about what’s trending with wildlife and timber,” Wallace said. “Events like this keep us up to date with issues that affect us.”
Glen Gentry, director of the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station, discusses artificial insemination techniques used on white-tailed deer to help maintain a healthy captive herd during a tour provided for the Tangipahoa Parish Forestry Association on May 5. Photo by Randy LaBauve/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter research associate Michael Becker describes how a rotator bucket is used to collect midge larvae and discusses viruses leading to hemorrhagic disease in cattle and deer during a tour for the Tangipahoa Parish Forestry Association on May 5. Photo by Randy LaBauve/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station director Glen Gentry explains forestry and wildlife management practices being conducted at the station during a tour provided for the Tangipahoa Parish Forestry Association on May 5. Photo by Randy LaBauve/LSU AgCenter