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Wildlife

Cicada killer wasps

Cicada killer wasps will start emerging from the ground anytime, but these docile wasps only have one thing on their minds: Seeking out cicadas. Found across the U.S., these native wasps start to appear in mid-to-late July through August in Nebraska. Cicada killer wasps are approximately 2 inches long with black and yellow on their abdomens and amber-colored wings. When you hear male cicadas begin singing to attract their mates, the adult cicada killer wasps will start to emerge from …

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A Summer Checklist for a Safe and Successful Hunt

The intense heat and humidity of summer’s “dog days” are here. Ears of sweet corn are being harvested. Boating, swimming, tubing and fishing are being widely enjoyed now. But, wait a second. For those of us who are avidly involved in the hunting lifestyle and its year-round process, summer means a myriad of things to do if we are to have a safe and successful fall hunt. I don’t know about you, but in mid-summer, my thoughts begin to drift …

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Be Eco-Friendly, Pick up Your Trash (and that of others)!

Trash. A large amount and variety of trash. Plastic bottles. Plastic grocery bags. Fishing bait containers. Spent fishing line. Cigarette butts. Banana peels. Food wrappers. Diapers. Broken lawn chairs. Old tires. Now, add single-use face coverings and rubber gloves plus empty hand sanitizer containers. Whew! The list of trash items seems endless. So many people are visiting outdoor places and spaces during the current COVID-19 pandemic. In Nebraska, fishing and state park permit sales are up. Float trip outfitters report …

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NET grant to fund Game and Parks grassland habitat improvement project

Grassland curlew

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently received a $250,000 award from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to help landowners complete grassland habitat improvements on 45,000 acres of private lands across Nebraska. Game and Parks and Pheasants Forever will co-lead the project known as the Grassland Enhancement Initiative, which will help landowners implement prescribed fire, tree removal, herbicide application, disking, grazing, or herbaceous seeding, among other habitat improvement practices. In doing so, the initiative will counter threats to …

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Those Fiery Redheads

Beauty or beast, this woodpecker has an eye-catching appearance Aerial proficiency to swoop and snatch prey from the sky. Symmetrically arranged talons for clinging to vertical surfaces and a chiseled beak that hammers hardwood surfaces at 1,000 times the force of gravity. A long barbed tongue, three times as long as that self-sharpening dagger-like bill, for retrieving victims from deep within a crevice. All that, and a fiery red head. If readers were to consider that description alone, they might …

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The life of a baby bass

This time of year is great for exploring and discovering nature’s wonders that can go unnoticed when we don’t take time to slow down. On a recent afternoon walk around a pond, I noticed a huge school of baby bass swimming along the shoreline, hiding in the aquatic vegetation and, off in deeper water was a large, adult male bass working hard to ward off possible predators of this swarm of babies. After watching for several minutes, I had to …

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Wildflower Power: Promoting Pollinator Week

What you may not know about me is that I am a lover of wildflowers. Seeing, smelling, identifying and just being amid native wildflowers are on my list of my favorite outdoor pursuits in Nebraska’s landscape. And you know what? Those wildflowers are more important than ever! No, scratch that. Indirectly, those native wildflowers are vital to all life on our planet Earth! Allow me to explain. For one out of every three bites of food you eat, you need to thank a bee, butterfly, beetle, ant, wasp, bat, bird or …

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Sandhills Trumpeters

The marsh had a lot more cattails and bulrushes than most Sandhills lakes, concealing the trumpeter swans we were after. The swans themselves were doing their best to hide by swimming in a different direction than the large and loud airboat zigzagging through the marsh. So, when we burst through a wall of vegetation, and there were four swans right in front of us – two adults and two young, known as cygnets – we were not sure who was …

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Preserving the Pine Ridge

Catastrophic wildfires have ravaged more than half of northwestern Nebraska’s pine forests. Land managers are making strides toward a more sustainable future. On this sunny day, Bryce Gerlach is visiting a timber-thinning project at Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area in the northwest corner of the state. Gerlach, who is a forester funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, likes what he sees. “This is the project that is going to save Gilbert-Baker someday,” he …

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Saving Saltwort

Returning salt to salt marshes. The state endangered plant saltwort grows in salt marshes in Lancaster County and nowhere else in our state. Unfortunately, decline of the marshes during the past 150 years has left this species hanging on by a thread. I held little hope of saltwort surviving in Nebraska until I recently learned of a creative new restoration method for returning salt to the damaged marshes. A Uniquely Adapted Plant Within salt marshes, saltwort (Salicornia rubra) grows mainly …

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