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cultivating wild animals

 
                                              
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   I didnt know what to title the thread so hopefully it isnt offensive to anyone.... Im sure this topic was brought up before here, but i did a search and didnt see it.....

   Ive got some land out of town, among the projects I have is attracting wild animals. theres a couple reasons, first its a barren area, so I just think its a nice thing to do.

   second I can trap and eat them. Or hunt them outright. Im not really a hunter but Id like to try it a few times as a meat eater. they are also always there if I NEED to hunt or trap them.

   third, well they disturb the soil a bit, they do their "deeds" after they eat as well. So i figure it also slightly speeds up my work.

   all work that needs protection will be behind a fence after this summer, so they wont be messing with anything that I will miss.

   fourth, animals are fun.   

   So any ideas on how to do this? Ive got the plants down, I am good there. although recommendations for high desert (short cool season but dry) are always welcome...

    Id like to build homes for rabbits especially. Is there a way i can do this that a wild rabbit could make use of for protection from coyotes or the occasional mountain lion? I can research this online and will, but thought Id get a discussion going and see if anyone else actively does this.

    I will be growing foods for rabbits, and deer, elk mule deer, etc. 
 
                                              
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also how do people think birds factor into this? they can fly over my fence, so will already be likely to mess with my grains and other things in that area.

  should I grow other things for birds as well? with the idea that they will not concentrate on my crops with a larger area to browse?

Or would that just draw more birds to the area? in which case having had my crops alone wouldnt of stuck out so much?

  Im torn on the bird aspect.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Some discussion of improving game animal habitat in a thread over at the SustainableCountry you may be interested in:
http://forums.sustainablecountry.com/forums/showthread.php?5906-improving-habitat-for-game-animals&highlight=habitat
 
John Polk
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The first part of attracting wildlife is not food.  It is WATER that will attract them, and keep them coming back, especially in your arid region.  Water is the lowest common denominator that every creature on earth needs.
 
                                              
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Very true, but most animals here get their water from their food dominantly I believe. unless they have secret water humans never found.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Providing a source of water is very helpful in bringing all kinds of wildlife to your place.  We have tons of deer, squirrels, raccoons, porcupines, possums, frogs, snakes, lizards, birds.  But so far have not harvested any.  Just not the shooting and trapping kinds of people so far.

Our chickens sharing a snack with Whitetail deer:



Brush piles provide homes for many small animals.  We never burn our brush like the neighbors do, just make piles for the critters.


Personally I think it makes a lot of sense to "cultivate" wild animals for food, they are best adapted to the local ecosystem.  But the harvesting is more difficult than just picking a chicken out of the coop. 
 
                                              
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Either way i wont be setting them up with water. although many plants Im using will have much more water in them then they are used to. so they should be good there either way.....

Im not trying to build a paradise for them. Just offer more reliable browsing for larger animals, and perhaps complete habitats for rabbits. the bulk of rabbits here have only seen water when it rains.
 
                          
Posts: 56
Location: Bremerton, Washington
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At the risk of sounding obvious...  ops:

Have you put swales into your landscape yet?  They would collect any natural rainfall and increase the wild vegetation and cover that animals need. 

All I know about rabbits is that they like to dig warrens, eat grass and clover, and coyotes eat them. 
 
                                              
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  I havent covered the land with swales and other means of better growing vegetation yet, but Ive got all kinds of those things going on there, and will continue to expand. although the places Im doing this for now will be mainly for myself. Atleast as the sites mature.

  As my perennial plantings mature they will be generating the biomass that will help support these plants as well...

  Im going to be planting lots of native things that dont get great chances at finishing off seeds, (growing them in protected spots) and also introducing lots of other things.

  except where my orchards and gardens are, the site will be managed rather passively, though in a way that fertility builds on itself. Actually as more of an experiment then anything else, because Im getting more land as soon as I know which varieties of fruits and rootstocks work reliably here.... this is more my retirement, playground site...

   
 
Robert Ray
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Water is probably the most reliable draw.
You can adopt a guzzler from the Game and Fish in our area, a 1/2 of a 50 gallon barrel out in the woods or scrub that you fill with water for the wild animals. The draw and variety that show up is incredible.
Since water is scarce in the high desert you will get more bang for the buck with water.
 
                                              
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  im sure i would, but im still not going that route. Its hard enough getting enough water out there to establish the trees. I will be taking water out there for my grains as well (until I can get the dryland ones bred) so taking water for the animals just isnt happening.

    besides it has its own dangers.. If i fail to fill it up, animals that came to rely on it, might be in trouble. these animals have adapted to having no water, me giving them an easy source could be rather counter productive. you should see the plants these animals get their water from, what they will have at my place is an oasis in comparison.
 
Robert Ray
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I guess the same could be said of a food source that fails. 
Swales perhaps a dew pond might be the answer, for obtaining water and creating natural water retention for the plants you do decide to utilize.
 
                                              
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    I am getting a water collection system set up out there, but its for me not the animals. I will be lucky to get the minimal amounts for myself with the funds Im able to use at this point.

    Yeah Im working on swales and hordes of other means to best utilize the water I do get. ive got no issues there. Im doing it in hordes of ways actually, and seeing which works best over time, which is easiest etc.... Also putting various factors together in many ways. this is a test plot to figure out the best paths for me to grow productive dryland orchards, and staples as I breed them.... Lots of experiments... need to put in some hugelkulter beds now as I never heard of those until i was here.... though I had things going on based on similar principles.   

    really I was just curious if others were working on this, possible trees I could use, and setting up homes for rabbits, which I intend to focus on.... (which the ones finding themselves born around my land never saw water except for fleeting mud puddles, and then months of dryness, so they arent missing anything it will be multiples better then the standard forage of the area)
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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we have been attracting wild animals to our property for 40 years..and I can tell you that having food ..esp natural foods...growing and available for them in abundance is wonderful but a pond will even do more than having the food..all animals love water just like people do.

we have deer, elk, black bear, coyote, mink, weasels, beaver, skunks, possum, rabbits, racoons, wild turkey, geese, ducks and game birds as well as the usual birds that frequent our property and we also have others from time to time..but they generally come at night and we don't see them.

we DON'T hunt them at this time but could if we had to..right now we just talk to them..and of course make sure they are well fed and watered and not bothered.

i fence anything I don't want to have destroyed, but generally, they don't bother my crops too much, occasional pruning of some fruiting buds can be an annoyance.
they do tend to deposit their gifts fairly well scattered over the area..deer and rabbits and the wild birds are pretty good at putting it about everywhere but the bear and some others are a bit more selective (bear love to leave it on my  deck which requires moving it)
 
                                              
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  I certainly wasnt denying that water would attract more animals, Im just not in a position to do it.

  Getting enough water for establishing trees out there for now is hard enough. Setting something up that would perpetually have water for them, when i dont have it for myself yet just isnt in my budget.

  But I CAN increase their fodder greatly, which is indeed the source of the water for many of these animals. Also I can offer better fodder as well which has more water in it.

  Ive got elk,  mountain lions, jack rabbits, cotton tail rabbits, coyotes, turkeys, Bear are possible but very rare as they stay in near by mountains except in really dry years when food is scarce. Theres a few others but thats the bulk of it. Most of the others are in nearby areas, but dont go into that area often, due to the ancient lava beds, that make it hard to get around. The vast bulk of birds are crows, and to a lesser degree hummingbirds.

    Years from now after many other projects are gone through, I do intend to get a perpetual pond going, that is accessible to wild life, but this is near the end of the list. Ive got a lot of other important things going on.
 
                          
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Location: Bremerton, Washington
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I know many hunters encourage elk by sowing sweet grasses in any fertile patch they can find, or even lay out a bag of store-bought compost sprinkled with deer-tempting grasses.  Some may plant an apple tree just so its fallen apples will attract deer.  If the deer come, their hooves may disturb the earth enough to catch micro-swales of water, and their droppings may roll into those same swales and encourage more growth of native plants.  Nice thick grass cover will attract lots of rabbits, which will attract the predators.

I was just watching "ryland Permaculture Techniques" with Bill Mollison ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGotaEnwqic ), and at 4:30 they show a machine they call a "land imprinter" which does basically that job for large desert areas, creating micro-swales that encourage grasses to re-establish themselves on barren land.

Also, I agree that attracting birds will also do a lot to improve your land with free manure.  In geoff lawton's "Greening the Desert" video he talks about people in Jordan using dovecotes to attract pigeons just for their manure.  Obviously, you could also eat the squab if you wanted.

I saw someone once talk about a "quail tractor", which was nothing more than a tall bird feeder he put in and moved about just for birdwatching.  Birds would spill excess seeds, and then quail would be attracted to come scratch up those spots to get most of the seeds, but many would sprout due to the scratching and manure left behind.

Anything that encourages life encourages MORE life, eh? 

 
                  
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
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Sounds like dry arid land and hard to get crops I am used to (like peas and beans which deer and rabbits love) to grow on however I bet there are crops suited for your area that they will love. Also I get it you don't want to build a pond or other water source for wildlife so that is out as well. The only other thing I can suggest is quite simply provide more cover in the form of brushpiles. They not only provide shade but also a place for animals to hide. Also an animal in a brushpile is more protected from preditors and the sticks and brush will slow them down. giving an animal such as a rabbit time to head out one of it's many escape routes. Along with brushpiles thickets (or patches) of brushy or thorny plants is very attractive to rabbits specifically. They can get under them while a preditor gets poked trying to get in.  Of course almost anything you do that will make your land better to support you will also make it a bigger draw to animals as you would be suprised how our needs overlap and how attractive plants we eat or eat part of are to them.
 
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