Living With Wildlife

This section discusses enhancing your acreage to attract wildlife and preventing wildlife damage.

Living With Wildlife - Pheasant Photo - USDA

Diversity is the Key to Attracting Wildlife

  • Plant as many different types of grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees as possible.

  • Select a diverse range of varieties of each type of plant.

  • Have many sources of water. Ponds, swamps, bogs and bird baths are all great sources of water for wildlife. Place water sources in open and hidden locations.

  • Take advantage of the fact that many animals prefer the edge where two different types of habitats meet. Form as much " Edge Effect" as you can.

Consider the following. . .

Do you have a large diversity of vegetation on the property?

Do you have accessible year-round water sources in various locations?

Are there dead trees, brush piles or rock piles scattered across the landscape?

Is year-round food provided for a diverse planting of grasses, shrubs and trees?

Do you supplement food resources for wildlife?

Master Plan

  • Find out what species of wildlife are native to your area.
  • Decide which of the native wildlife you would like to manage.
  • Learn as much as possible about the requirements of those species.
  • Determine habitat enhancement needs on your property.
  • Design short- and long-term plans for habitat improvements.

Design Guidelines

  • Select plants that provide cover and food.
  • Plant a variety of plant types; intersperse, creating a mixed stand.
  • Plant to create protected nesting areas.
  • Plant in locations that form corridors or connections between different larger habitat plantings.
  • Promote and plant woodland, grassland, riparian and wetland habitats.
  • Create a number of each type of habitat so different habitat are adjacent, forming as many " edge" areas as possible.

Grassland Habitat Hints

  • Grasslands are made up of many grasses, legumes and forbs.
  • Mix as many species of native grassland species as possible.
  • Do not plant grasslands uniformly, but make them patchy to create a mosaic effect.
  • Many animal species need a large unbroken prairie area.
  • Maintain grasslands by eliminating any woody plants (especially cedars).
  • Add water by forming small " prairie potholes" in low areas. Incorporate a small clay seal in the soil of the lowest point.
  • Allow piles of dead grasses and forbs to remain through the winter. These become important overwintering cover.
  • Control introduced noxious weed species.

Wetland/Riparian Habitat Hints

  • True wetland or riparian habitats are very difficult to create where the natural components do not exist.
  • Where wetland habitats exist, protect them from draining and pollution. Manage for natural wetland plants and prevent their destruction.
  • If a creek or stream transects the property, allow at least 50 feet on each side for a riparian habitat strip. Plant trees and shrubs that provide food, cover and prevent erosion. Many tree species are adapted to riparian locations.
  • Use riparian habitats to connect other types of habitats.
  • Consider trying to create wetlands as well as ponds. Establish large shallow areas around ponds with cattails and wetland grasses.

Woodland Habitat Hints

  • Mix evergreen, deciduous and shrub species. Plant in random groupings.
  • Select species that provide food for wildlife, forage, nuts, fruits and seeds.
  • Select plants that are different heights. Some will give canopy habitat while others form lower habitat cover.
  • Allow dead trees to stand if they are in an area that is non-threatening to humans or property. These provide nesting for many wildlife species.
  • Fallen trees also form good cover.
  • Snags or piles of brush are perfect overwintering sites.
  • Create dead trees by girdling live ones and shelter by stacking cut branches if there are none.
  • Construct thick understory areas with thorny brambles to protect small animals from predators.
  • Create water sources by adding small woodland ponds in lowland areas.

Source: Adapted for Lancaster County, Nebraska from A Place in the Country: The Acreage Owner's Guide (EC97-2506C).


Tips to Reduce Wildlife Damage

  • Pro-active prevention is the best control.
  • Protect high-valued items with fences and physical deterrents.
  • Supply alternative resources so wildlife has less need for desired items.
  • Provide feed stations, water and nesting material.
  • Chemical repellents work best when there are enough alternative items.
  • Competition and predation are natural in a diverse system of habitats

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Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in Lancaster County
Web site:
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A,
Lincoln, NE 68528