Outdoors Briefs December 30, 2011

By NEMS Daily Journal

Waterfowl report
Mississippi waterfowl hunters across the state continue report mixed success over the holiday season. Harvest remains similar to previous weeks; however, waterfowl use has increased on some WMAs, particularly at Howard Miller WMA. It is no surprise that with continued abundant rainfall, there is no shortage of good waterfowl habitat in the Delta and in northeast Mississippi. Hunters and MDWFP personnel report that birds are spread out across the landscape and continue to concentrate on large contiguous tracts of flooded agricultural fields. Hunters who are willing to travel the extra mile to avoid other hunters are finding ducks in naturally flooded areas in the South Delta and along the Mississippi River.
Mississippi duck hunters are still in anticipation for the next major push of migrating ducks. Harsh winter weather events in areas like Southeast Missouri will be needed to turn things around for duck hunters in the second half of the regular season. This week, MDWFP biologists hope to complete the mid-winter aerial waterfowl survey; and survey results will be posted on the Waterfowl Program website.
WMA waterfowl harvest data are also updated weekly on MDWFP’s website. The Waterfowl Program website (www.mdwfp.com/waterfowl) also reports updated water levels, and specific habitat information for WMAs throughout the state.

2012 Youth Participation Initiative Squirrel Hunt
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks is partnering with the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, Mississippi State University Extension Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to host seven youth squirrel hunts throughout Mississippi on Saturday, February 11, 2012. The squirrel hunts will be held at Canal Section WMA, Caney Creek WMA, Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, O’Keefe WMA, Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Pascagoula River WMA, and Sandy Creek WMA. These hunts were developed to introduce youth to small game hunting and conservation. The hunts are provided at no cost to participants.
During the one-day hunts, youth participants will be exposed to principles of hunting and firearms safety, squirrel hunting with dogs, and the daily life of squirrels and their habitats. Best of all, youth participants will have the opportunity to participate in a squirrel hunt!
To apply for a youth squirrel hunt, complete the application at http://www.mswildlife.org/events/youth-squirrel-hunt.php” http://www.mswildlife.org/events/youth-squirrel-hunt.php by January 20, 2012. All applicants must be 10 – 15 years of age. Each hunt location is limited to 20 youth participants. Applicants will be notified by email regarding space availability for each location. A parent or legal adult guardian is required to accompany youth participants. Guns and ammunition for target shooting and hunting will be provided. Completion of a hunter education course by youth participants is notrequired.
For more information about the 2012 Youth Participation Initiative Squirrel Hunt, contact Chris McDonald at 601-757-2313

Best time for prescribed burning at hand
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) recently received funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for prescribed burning on private lands. The “Fire on the Forty” campaign is designed to assist landowners through cost-share opportunities for prescribed burning and to promote the appropriate use of fire on private lands in important areas. This new program is administered through Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife (MPFW) and the Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Although prescribed fire is a very important tool for forest and wildlife management, many private landowners are reluctant to use fire due to cost and liability concerns associated with burning. As part of the “Fire on the Forty” initiative, the MPFW will reimburse funded projects in selected focal counties up to 50% of costs for implementing and conducting prescribed fire. Focal counties include Monroe, Prentiss, and Noxubee in north Mississippi, and Amite, Pike, Pearl River, and Lamar in south Mississippi.
Landowners must submit an application for entry into the program. All applications will be competitively ranked based on potential habitat benefits and will be selected for funding by the MPFW. All prescribed burning must be conducted by a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager, a certification completed through the Mississippi Forestry Commission.