Avoid plowing to leave food, cover for wildlife; DNR: Stay alert for deer
Avoid fall plowing to leave food, cover for wildlife
Fall tillage practices, even reduced tillage techniques such as disking and chisel plowing, can eliminate waste grains and crop residue that provides important food and cover for species such as pheasants, quail, partridge, turkey, and deer.
Studies of harvested untilled crop fields show wildlife consume 55-85 percent of the waste corn and soybeans between fall harvest and the following spring.
The corn stubble and stalks remaining in untilled cornfields also provide concealment cover for pheasants, quail, and partridge, so the birds are not so exposed to predators when feeding in the winter, said Todd Bogenschutz, wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Research shows even reduced tillage methods, such as disking and chisel plowing, reduce waste grains available to wildlife by 80 percent and reduce crop stubble by 50 percent or more.
Farmers and landowners can leave a free food plot for wildlife by simply not fall plowing their fields, said Bogenschutz.
“No till farming is a great way to leave food and cover for wildlife. Leaving stubble is also a great way to capture soil moisture for next year,” he said.
DNR warns drivers to stay alert for deer movement
Although it is always a good practice, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is reminding drivers to stay alert for deer as they travel Iowa’s roadways during the next few weeks.
Increased deer movements due to crop harvest and deer breeding behavior combine to hike the risk of vehicle-deer collisions during this period.
Through the third week of November, Iowa bucks and does are more active, as the breeding season builds to its peak. This creates scenarios of fast moving, unpredictable deer crossing highways. With crop harvest in full swing, deer also arepushed into the remaining cover.
Another factor that increases the risk of seeing deer will be the change away from daylight savings time Sunday. This places more drivers behind the wheel during the dusk and dawn period.
Twenty-one percent of road-killed deer observed by the Iowa Department of Transportation along Iowa’s rural highways and interstates were in November in 2012. Second was October, with 14 percent.
DNR officials state the easiest way to minimize the risk of hitting a deer is to simply slow down and remain alert, especially around dawn and dusk. Many accidents occur near brushy or tree lined waterways that cross roads, and if a driver spots one deer, there may be a second or third following.
Drivers also are reminded “Don’t veer for deer.” Leaving the lane of traffic could cause a collision with another vehicle or a roadside obstacle, such as a utility pole or culvert.
Still, while this combination of factors challenges drivers, Iowa’s deer herd has shrunk and the number of deer-related accidents has dropped significantly since 2003.
The drop is attributed to a decade of increased deer harvest. Hunters, Iowa’s primary deer management tool, increased their take of does during the last decade.