Do Something Wild
Do Something "Wild"
Provide a Home for Wildlife
With a flash of brilliant plumage a pheasant explodes from its fencerow
thicket. The raucous sound of the ring-neck cock silences the music of songbirds
in the nearby windbreak. The mallard in the pond glides her downy yellow brood
to shelter among the cattails.
Anyone who has seen or can imagine these things knows something about the
value of wildlife on farms and ranches. There is no need to miss such sights and
sounds since they are easy to create. Simply match what the land is producing to
the needs of wildlife, and wildlife will respond.
You can have wildlife on your land and have a better farm or ranch because of
it. Every farm and ranch is a complex community of living things. In this
community are the plants and animals that convert nutrients, moisture, and
sunshine into food and fiber for our support and into trees, shrubs, grasses and
forbs for the support of wild creatures. It is a successful community only if
the living elements are working in harmony for the benefit of the community as a
In Montana, wildlife belongs to all the people but habitat that wild
creatures is mostly in private ownership. What a farmer or rancher does with his
or her land can have a tremendous impact on wildlife. Numerous species of upland
and wetland wildlife are found on farms and ranches used mainly for cultivated
crop, livestock, or wood production. Here, farmers and ranchers are the key to
wildlife abundance. Farms, farmers, and farm programs influence the existence of
wildlife because wild animals react quickly to agricultural management
practices, good or bad.
Of course, if farmers or ranchers are to make a go of their business, their
first priority must be crop and livestock production. Sometimes wildlife must,
by necessity, represent a secondary land use.
But often, with little or no cost, a landowner can easily adjust the farming
or ranching operation to encourage production of wildlife�from pheasants, doves,
partridge and prairie grouse, to songbirds and waterfowl, to amphibians,
reptiles, and big game. On most agricultural lands wildlife is a secondary crop
from which the landowner doesn’t expect or receive an income. The beauty,
though, provided by patches of shrubs, trees, and grassland scattered throughout
wheat or fallow does enhance the value and appeal of the land. The pleasures
derived from wild creatures inhabiting this diverse landscape is part of the
heritage of farm and ranch life.
There is another benefit of maintaining healthy, diverse wildlife habitat on
a farm or ranch. A complex wildlife community provides the landowner with a free
pest control service. Songbirds, bats, and many insects, for example, save
farmers, ranchers, and foresters billions of dollars each year by consuming
harmful insect pests. A single little brown bat eats about 1,200 mosquito-sized
insects per hour. And, the pollination service provided by bats, insects, and
hummingbirds is critical to healthy agricultural operations.
If you encounter any problems with the file provided on this
page, please contact Technical Resources at 406-587-6822.
This information is also available as a printer-friendly
Something "Wild" (PDF; 895 KB)