Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Coyotes in Cobb County
Scooter, courtesy of Sean Poppy at the UGA Savanna River Ecology Laboratory
Lately there has been an increasing  number of articles  about coyotes in the local news, especially since the introduction of the "Coyote Challenge" in 2017.  Many Cobb residents are concerned by the  increased number of  publicized sightings, and the transmission of the  rabies virus. In this Blog we will touch on several subjects about coyotes such as  history, biology, conflict, and control methods for here in Cobb County.

History:
The coyote (Canis latrans)  is a member of the Canid family, and a native species to North America that has a rich cultural heritage especially among Native Americans. Historically they were thought of as a trickster and teacher to humans, but were  later considered  pests by migrating farmers. Their original range consisted of the Great Plains of the mid-west  and parts of Mexico and Canada. However with the onset of the  20th century they started spreading across all of North America, possibly due to excessive hunting, and the  lack of competition from wolves which were also heavily hunted.

Biology:
Coyotes are much smaller than wolves weighing in at around 15-50 lbs and standing around 21-24 inches at the shoulder. They are opportunistic feeders which has been a key component to their success, they scavenge, forager, and hunt for their food. They feed on a wide variety of items such as; carrion, fruits, vegetables, nuts, insects, and small mammals.They are predominantly lone  nocturnal hunters, but will occasionally hunt in the day time, and sometimes in pairs. They are  generally  monogamous and will mate for life. Females will typically have between 4-6 pups per a litter each year, and The pups reach maturity around 9 months of age. 

Habitat:
Currently coyotes can be found as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Panama. They are highly adaptive animals, and can be found in almost every environment on earth. Here in Cobb County they will predominantly hide in  forested areas, uncut fields, and abandoned lots, but they will go where the food is. Sightings in cities are not uncommon due to increased populations of rodents.

Conflict:
Coyotes will prey upon cats or small dogs, however the risk decreases based on the dogs size. They are usually wary of large dogs similar to how they were with wolves, and will avoid conflict. They will also prey upon small farm animals such as sheep, goats, and chickens.  They can also damage property by making their den in tool sheds, barns and around vacant houses. Many are also concerned about the rabies virus which they can carry, however the primary distributor of the virus  on the eastern seaboard is raccoons. 

Control:
Though coyotes can be hunted year around with a hunting license this is not always an option  for people in a residential area, and not always a preferred method. There are many different options of  control for home owners, some examples of which  are listed below.

Scooter, courtesy of Sean Poppy at the UGA
 Savanna River Ecology Laboratory
  • Exclusion:  Proper Fencing in parts or all of your yard, keeping in mind they can dig, and jump. 
  • Habitat Modification: Keeping your yard maintained and your grass cut, making the area hard for them to hide in. Clearing  property of debris piles and keeping it well light, can help reduce their activity in your area.
  • Cultural: Keeping trash cans and pet food secure, and  also using the correct bird seed to avoid attracting rodents and other small mammals to your property. 
  • Repellents: Noise makers, loud sounds and lights work, but  they should be used sparingly otherwise they will become accustom to them. 
  • Guard Animals: Large trained dogs can deter coyotes, and there are several species bred for that  purpose. Research also suggests that Donkeys and Llamas have been  used successfully to defend herds from predation. Both animals have a natural dislike of canids and will act aggressively towards them.
  • Lethal: If trapping and killing is required, it is recommend that you contacted a licensed wildlife removal specialist.  

Benefits:
Though many people identify coyotes as a nuisance, they play a very important role in the food chain and help balance the ecosystem. They are  important in reducing  rodent populations,  but they also help control the deer population. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the number of fawns per a doe surviving to hunting season has reduced by 22% since the mid-1990's. 


More Information:
For questions and concerns  please contact your county Extension Office, and check out the publications linked below for more information and control methods.

1.  https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/B%201248_5.PDF

2.  http://georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/wrd/pdf/management/Coyote.pdf




Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Winter Wildlife Encroachment in Your Home

With the coming cool season around the corner people are  starting  to prepare for the  holidays, and just like us many  animals are also preparing  for winter. Now is the time many animals are seeking shelter from the coming cool months, and many times that shelter can also be our own home. Here are a few tips and a wonderful publication from UGA  to help prepare yourself for more than just the holidays. Most of the information below was provided by Michael T. Mengak from the Warrnell School of Forestry and Natural Resource at UGA.                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Photo Provided By UGA 
  • Chimneys — Cap chimneys to prevent raccoons, bats,    squirrels and birds from entering the house.                                    
  • Soffit vents — Keep vents in good repair since they are often used as an entry point for insects, bats and birds.
  • Gabled end of the house/barn — Block animals by using hardware cloth or screens that still maintain airflow to the attic and buildings. Gables are often the entry point for flying squirrels, gray squirrels, bats and birds like pigeons, wrens, house sparrows, European starlings and swallows.
  • Windows and doors — These are entry points for snakes, bugs, mice and some large animals like raccoons and opossums if the doors on garages or sheds are not closed or properly sealed. Close doors and windows, repair screens and maintain a proper weather seal.
  • Dryer vent — Vents are a common entry point for snakes and mice. Cover the vent with screen large enough to vent hot dryer air but exclude animals. Clean the screen regularly to prevent lint accumulation. Seal around the vent with expanding foam or weather seal.
  • Pipes and cables — Mice and bats can enter through the dime-sized holes where electric lines, phone lines, and satellite or cable TV lines connect to the house. Seal these holes with expanding foam or weather seal.
  • Remove food wastes from inside the house regularly,  and avoid keeping trash cans directly against the home.
  • Store all pet food in airtight containers when possible.
For more information on solving human- nuisance wildlife conflicts follow the link below, and always remember animals always need food, water, and shelter. If you can remove one of those three pillar requirements from your home the animals will likely move on, or not even bother choosing your home as their winter shelter.


https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/B%201248_5.PDF 

If you have any questions please contact your local extension office.

UGA Extension Office in Cobb County
678 South Cobb Dr.
Marietta, Ga 30060
(770)528-4070
uge1067@uga.edu



Friday, September 22, 2017

Soil test NOW! for new Fescue seeding.

If you're about to renovate or plant a new fescue lawn, collecting soil for a soil test is a great first step. Sending a soil sample to the soil testing lab at UGA will give you information about soil pH (how acidic, or not, your soil is), and about the major nutrients you will need to provide the new grass to get it off to a good start.

Even better, the soil test report will tell not only how much of what fertilizer to use and how much limestone, if any, to apply, it will also provide a fertilizer schedule that you can follow for the next few years. 

Soil Sample bags.     PHOTO/UGA
Fescue lawns have very different needs, in both how much fertilizer and when to apply it, than warm season lawns like Bermudagrass and Zoysia, so the report will be very helpful. 

To take a good soil sample, you can follow directions in UGA's Soil Testing for Home Lawns, Gardens, and Wildlife Food Plots.

The basic steps though are to dig down several inches (into the root zone) to collect some soil from the area you want to establish fescue in, then put that soil into a bucket or bag. Then do that again, in 10-12 other spots in the planting area. Mix those all together, so you have a good composite sample. The lab will need about two cups of that sample, so save two cups of that soil to take to your county extension office.

When you are at the office, you will fill out some basic contact information on an official UGA soil sample bag. The lab fee for the basic soil test, when sent through the Cobb county Extension office, is $8. Other counties may charge a slightly different amount, so call the office first if you are in a different county. 

The Extension office will then send your sample to the soil lab in Athens. It can take 10-14 days for the results to be complete. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cobb Fire Dept Extends Burn Ban Due to Drought

Straight from the website of Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services:
"In response to recent dry weather and drought conditions, the Cobb County Fire Marshal’s Office has instituted a temporary ban on outdoor burning to include the burning of yard debris. Beginning October 28, 2016, leaves, pine straw, and other yard debris may not be burned until the ban is lifted.

The ban is expected to be lifted when significant rainfall is received and notification will be sent out when burning may resume. The Fire Marshal’s Office will also stop the issuance of Large Yard Waste and Bonfire permits during this time."

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Georgia Pesticide License Review



A review of the materials for the Georgia Pesticide General Standards and Category 24 Ornamental and Turf pesticide license exams will be offered in Cobb County on October 25, 2016.

When: Tuesday, October 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Cobb County Extension, 678 South Cobb Drive, Marietta,  GA, 30060, second floor classroom

Registration fee: $15

To register, please call 770-228-7214 or email bhorne@uga.edu 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Plant Trees and Shrubs in Big-Enough Holes

Many trees and shrubs are transplanted most successfully in the cool months of October through April. However, even the most wonderfully healthy plant will struggle if it is set into an inadequate or improperly prepared hole in the ground.

In the publication "Soil Preparation and Planting Procedures for Ornamental Plants in the Landscape," UGA's Gary Wade says that a big enough hole will be "at least twice as wide as the root ball" and only about as deep as that same root ball.

The temptation is to add compost or other organic amendments to break up the red clay that is in many of our yards. Wade says, though, that all that organic matter "can act like a sponge in the planting hole, absorbing and holding too much moisture and causing the roots to stay too wet."

He says that, instead, it is best to pack the same soil removed from the hole back in around the root ball. Be sure to remove and wires or burlap before planting, eliminate air pockets by watering-in the plant, and apply mulch in a doughnut-like circle around the plant to protect it from weeds and lawn-mower damage.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Local Food Grant from Food Well Alliance

Food Well Alliance has scheduled an information session to be held at Cobb Extension about its next Local Food Grant.

The session will be Monday, August 23, 10:00 a.m., at Cobb Extension, 678 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, 30060, in the second floor classroom. This is in the white, metal, 2-story building that shares a parking lot with the Tag Office and is across the street from MNI Nurseries.

See the flyer below:


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Green Industry Update, June 9

A Green Industry Update is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, 2016 at Chattahoochee Tech. in Marietta, GA.

Re-certification Credits: Category 24 = 2 hours; ISA = 2 hours; Private = 1 hour

The program begins at 9:00 a.m. and features Dr. Alfredo Martinez speaking about Turfgrass Disease Management, Ben Copeland speaking about the New Bermudagrass 'TifTuf', and Brian Watters speaking about Irrigation Troubleshooting and Management.

The location is Room F-2147 (in building F) at Chattahoochee Technical College
980 South Cobb Drive
Marietta, GA 30060

The fee is $15, and can be paid in advance. To register, call Beth Horne at 770-228-7214, or email bhorne@uga.edu. You can also send payment (check made out to University of Georgia) and registration information including the name and date of the program, your address and contact information, and any dietary concerns or restrictions to the following address:

Center for Urban Agriculture
Attn; Beth Horne
1109 Experiment Street BAE #109
Griffin, GA 30223