Monday, September 15, 2014

Litter Can Be Harmful To Wildlife and Pets

Released: Sept. 12, 2014
Contact: Dr. Jim Miller, 662-325-2619

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Extension Outdoors

Litter can be harmful to wildlife and pets

By James E. “Jim” Miller
Professor Emeritus, Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Aquaculture
Mississippi State University

People discard millions of tons of trash daily in recycling containers or garbage cans, but unfortunately, many people leave trash in other places, where it can harm wildlife and pets.

Whether it is carelessly tossed out of car windows or off the sides of boats, left on the ground from routine farming or construction activities, or casually dropped while walking down the street, litter is more than an unsightly nuisance.

I am continually amazed at the amount of trash I see in my neighborhood, from food wrappers and bottles to packaging straps and cigarette butts. It makes me wonder if these unthinking people litter in their own yards as well. 

Unfortunately, some of that trash can pose serious threats to wildlife, fish, pets and even people.

Occasionally we see dramatic evidence of some animal that has been ensnared, maimed or killed by improperly discarded trash. Photographs of fish or turtles whose bodies are girdled by six-pack plastic rings, raccoons with their heads trapped in metal containers, pelicans dead of starvation from ingesting bottle caps and fishing line, or ospreys entangled in discarded monofilament are all too common.

I grew up on a farm and remember baling hay with hemp or sisal twine. At the time, I never thought about the fact that such twine could be a problem to wildlife or domestic livestock. However, my dad taught me to wrap the twine around a stick and save it, because it might come in handy to hastily fasten a gate, temporarily mend a break in a net or hang a tool on a nail in the barn. We never disposed of such twine, rope, or string, as long as it had some potentially useful purpose. Once it lost its usefulness, we burned it.

Today, baling twine is made of either sisal, which is biodegradable, or polypropylene, a non-biodegradable plastic. If it is disposed of irresponsibly, the plastic type can ensnare or even kill domestic animals and wildlife alike.

A friend recently shared with me a trail camera photograph of a very nice buck, two weeks prior to the bow-hunting season, with several yards of pink polymer hay baling twine entangled around both antlers. He then shared with me a second photo, from the opening day of bow season, when he found a buck -- likely the same one -- ensnared and locked together with another buck by pink polymer twine. They were both dead, probably after much suffering.

Admittedly, bucks sometimes get their antlers hooked together while fighting or sparring, but most of them break apart when one dominates the other or before becoming severely impaired. It would be pure speculation to say whether these two bucks might have separated and lived, despite their fighting and sparring, had their antlers and necks not been entangled with this hay baling twine. But I’d venture to guess that the baling twine made their death more likely.

I would encourage my fellow hunters to pick up twine or other discarded materials that could be a threat to wildlife and wind it up on a stick or carry it away for disposal or recycling. It won’t take much time or effort, and it could save an animal from a lot of suffering.

The bottom line is that improper disposal of trash of any kind is illegal, unattractive and harmful. It can be fatal to both domestic and wild animals. Please dispose of trash and refuse in an appropriate manner by recycling or placing it in an approved trash container. We all appreciate those who make an effort to protect the health and beauty of our treasured wildlife habitats and the neighborhoods and communities we call home.

Source: FCNews Staff / Press release - Msu Ag Communications News

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Digital Dangers Lurk for Students as School Begins


By Susan Collins-Smith / July 18, 2014
Contact: Jamie Varner, 662-325-3226; Dr. Mariah Morgan, 662-325-3226; or Ellen Graves, 662-325-2400

MSU Ag Communications - MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As students head back to the classroom, parents should remain aware of their children’s online behavior -- whether for school assignments or socializing.

Jamie Varner, an instructor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Technology Outreach, said parents should warn their children about digital dangers and take practical steps to help keep them safe.
KidZui, The Internet for Kids
“The No. 1 thing parents can do is communicate with their children about what they should and should not do when they are online,” Varner said. “The Internet can be a good source of information, but it poses some risks. Innocent searches can bring up websites with harmful malware, software, viruses or inappropriate content.”

Varner recommends setting up the computer in a central area of the home, such as the family room, where the monitor is visible to others.

“Think about when your children will be using the computer,” she said. “If the computer is a desktop and homework gets done while the adults are preparing dinner, maybe the computer should be near the kitchen.”

Other options to help control content when children are unsupervised are Internet filters and passwords.  To password-protect sites in Internet Explorer, use the Tools tab to access Internet Options and then select the Security tab. Highlight Restricted Sites, and left-click on Sites. Then, in the available field, type the restricted website. Press the Add button. Repeat these steps for each website that should not be accessed.

Internet filters reduce the possibility children can access inappropriate material. Filters can be customized to meet individual needs. Some filters can also manage instant messaging software and social media sites and provide a detailed activity log. Internet filters can be purchased or downloaded for free from the Internet, Varner said.

Mariah Morgan, an assistant Extension professor with the Center for Technology Outreach, said passwords can be set up through a computer’s internal settings to control what content children can access. No special software is needed.

Child-friendly search engines, such as Google’s Safe Search and KidZui, can limit children’s ability to stumble across explicit material, Morgan said.

The same safety features can be implemented on mobile devices. “Keeping kids safe on Smartphones and tablets can be a bit more difficult, but it’s not impossible,” Morgan said.

Both Apple and Android operating systems allow parents to limit online activity and app purchases on phones and tablets. Parents can set content filters in both the Google Play and iTunes stores to prevent the download of apps that cost money. To stop the download of free apps, parents can block access to both stores entirely by installing a password or personal identification number. App downloads from websites can be disabled in the settings menu. Most devices with newer operating systems allow different profiles for different users.

Apps also can help parents enforce limits. Kid Mode keeps child-friendly apps in a locked area on the device. Net Nanny and Funamo apps filter content and provide email reports on the child’s activity, Morgan said.

Many children interact with friends routinely on social media. Ellen Graves, Extension social media strategist, suggests parents set limits and discuss ground rules before allowing a child to join a social media network.

“Children should be mature enough to make sound decisions about what they post and who they communicate with via social media before they join any network,” Graves said. “Make sure they understand they should never post personal information, such as a phone number or an address, that could put them, their families or friends in danger.”

Encourage children to create a private profile, which allows only approved individuals to interact with the child. Parents should know the usernames and passwords of each social media account their child has, Graves said.

“Be open with your children and make sure they know you will be monitoring their social media activity for their safety,” she said. “It is also a good idea to define the amount of time they can spend on the Internet. Of course, these rules can change as the child becomes more mature and demonstrates good judgment.”

Software, such as Net Nanny and My Mobile Watchdog, can help parents keep track of a child’s social media activity, but these and some other programs charge fees. Apps, such as Screen Time, help restrict the time spent on iPhones and iPads. Parents can also follow or friend children as an additional way to monitor their behavior, Graves said.

Source: FCNews Staff - MSU Ag Communication press release

Monday, September 8, 2014

Oct 2nd set for 41st MSU Ornamental Horticulture Field Day


News Release - Sept. 5, 2014
Writer: Susan Collins-Smith
Contact: Dr. Gene Blythe, 601-403-8774

Horticulture field day set for early October

Horticulture enthusiasts and industry professionals can hear research updates (see listing below of all presentations) and tour demonstration gardens at the Mississippi State University South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville on Thursday, October 2nd 

Scientists with the MSU Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service will deliver information on pest management, variety trial results and landscaping during the 41st annual Ornamental Horticultural Field Day.   

Other topics include methods to prevent regrowth of crape myrtles after removal, blueberry propagation for home gardeners, hand protection for nursery workers, native plants for landscaping wet areas, Spotted Wing Drosophila and the impact of chromosome doubling on traits of scarlet eggplant.

On-site registration begins at 9 am and the program begins at 9:30 am.  Lunch and refreshments are included in the $10 registration fee. The registration fee is $6.50 for students.

The South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station is located at 711 W. North Street, across from Pearl River Community College.

For more information or directions to the trial garden site, contact Gene Blythe at 601-403-8774. For a complete list of seminar topics, visit

Topics Scheduled for Presentation at the
Ornamental Horticulture Field Day on Thursday, October 2, 2014

• Top Performers from the 2014 Variety Trials at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station – Dr. Gene Blythe, MSU-CREC

• Kaolin Clay Application as a Deterrent for Ambrosia Beetle Attack at Ornamental Nurseries - Christopher Werle,  USDA-ARS

• Elephant Ears (Colocacia and Alocasia) for the Landscape - Mike Anderson, MSU-CREC

• Measuring the Effect of Hand Protection on Worker Effort When Moving Small Container Plants - Scott  Langlois, MSU-CREC

• Southern Bunch Grapes - Dr. Eric Stafne, MSU-CREC

• Evaluation of Sabal Palm Species for Trunking and Hardiness - Dr. Cecil Pounders, USDA-ARS

• To Kill a Crapemyrtle - Dr. Anthony Witcher, USDA-ARS

• Native Plants for Landscaping Wet Areas in the Home Landscape - Patricia Drackett, MSU-Crosby Arboretum

• Spotted-Wing Drosophila: A New Invasive Pest in Mississippi - Dr. Blair Sampson, USDA-ARS

• All-America Selections Winners for 2014 - Dr. Gene Blythe, MSU-CREC

• Propagation of Blueberries for the Home Gardener - Melinda Butler, USDA-ARS

• The Effect of Pest Management Strategies on Small Scale Tomato Production in Mississippi - Christian Stephenson, MSU-ES

• Impact of Chromosome Doubling on Traits of Scarlet Eggplant - Dr. Hamidou Sakhanokho, USDA-ARS 

• Essential Oil of Caryopteris Pink Chablis™: Chemical Composition and Activity Against the Yellow Fever Mosquito - Dr. Gene Blythe, MSU-CREC

 ,,,,,,,,,,, in additional to other topics such as methods to prevent regrowth of crape myrtles after removal, blueberry propagation for home gardeners, hand protection for nursery workers, native plants for landscaping wet areas, Spotted Wing Drosophila and the impact of chromosome doubling on traits of scarlet eggplant.

Source: FCNews Staff,  MSU News release