Wildlife biologist Adam Rohnke had just relocated from New York to Mississippi to work for the Mississippi State University Extension Service when he was handed a project — put together a first-of-its-kind definitive guide for creating wildlife habitat in Mississippi.
“I was a rookie, had only been here about a month, and I said sure,” remembered Rohnke, a senior extension associate with the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond. “I had no idea that it would take so long to complete.”
This summer after nearly a decade of planning and work, University Press of Mississippi released “Fish and Wildlife Management: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners.” It represents the first-ever comprehensive guide for Magnolia State landowners looking to make their property more attractive to wildlife.
“The information in the book was available, but in smaller publications produced across numerous state and federal agencies,” said Rohnke, a certified wildlife biologist who served as managing editor of the book. “Now, landowners can find all of that information in one book.”
The 418-page “Fish and Wildlife Management: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners” is a collection of in-depth discussions written by approximately 40 experts on topics related to wildlife and fisheries management in Mississippi. Encompassing 17 chapters and five appendixes, the full-color book offers more than 500 illustrations and 40-plus tables.
The idea for the book came from James Cummins, executive director of Wildlife Mississippi who co-edited the book with Rohnke and served as project manager. Over the years, Cummins had hunted and fished with his father-in-law, Arch Dalrymple of Amory, and their conversations often turned to land management and habitat conservation.
“Mr. Dalrymple felt that Mississippi needed a book to assist landowners with various methods of fish and wildlife management, written at a level that most landowners could understand,” Cummins said.
The scope of the work was daunting, but Rohnke and Cummins did not have to start totally from scratch. When planning the book, they decided to use an Alabama publication on wildlife habitat management as their model, and rather than write the articles themselves, which would have taken even more time, they decided to use contributing writers who were already experts in their chosen areas.
(Rohnke and Cummins) did a marvelous job of organizing all of the writers and material,” said Craig Gill, assistant director and editor-in-chief at University Press of Mississippi. “Conversations started between us in 2009, and we signed a contract in 2011.”
“Fish and Wildlife Management: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners” covers the gamut of wildlife management. Chapter 1, “Mississippi’s Natural Bounty,” offers an overview of the state’s natural resources and their economic impact as well as everyday life.
“Besides powering the economy, the natural resources of the state have shaped Mississippi’s culture through food, art, music and craft trades,” Rohnke wrote.
Subsequent chapters deal with soils, grasslands, agricultural landscapes, ponds, conservation planning and natural resource economics, invasive species, wetland ecology and streams and rivers. Whole chapters are devoted to habitat enhancement for white-tailed deer, turkey, waterfowl, small game and supplemental wildlife food plantings.
There is also a chapter devoted to backyard wildlife and habitat. It includes information on habitat basics, landscape design, developing a backyard wildlife habitat plan, popular backyard wildlife and more.
While the book is intended as a textbook/guide, “Fish and Wildlife Management: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners” is surprisingly handsome. The book’s attractive cover and illustrations make it appropriate for the field as well as the coffee table.
“We have been very pleased with the early response to the book,” Gill said. “We have also released the entire work in an e-book format, and we are anxious to see how it is received, too.”
“Fish and Wildlife Management: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners” was boosted by external funding from Wildlife Mississippi, the Dalrymple Family Foundation and Mississippi State University.
For more information or to order “Fish and Wildlife Management: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners,” visit University Press of Mississippi at www.upress.state.ms.us.