A friend recently remarked that as she looked out her window one morning and saw deer browsing on forbs she thought, “I’ve come a long way in my wildlife management knowledge since thinking they were grazing on grass.” There is no doubt that wildlife management has a language all its own, and wildlife biologists often assume everyone knows that language. But some may need a wildlife management words and terms primer. So, in the interest of education, we thought it would be fun to start a Texas Wildlife Management Dictionary of sorts. We’ll update the “dictionary” along the way.
Activities – Practices engaged in to maintain a wildlife management use tax valuation.
The Texas Tax Code defines wildlife management as “actively using the land” through at least three of seven wildlife management practices (habitat control, erosion control, predator control, providing supplemental water, providing supplemental food, providing shelters, or conducing census counts) to propagate a sustaining breeding, migrating, or wintering population of indigenous wild animals for human use, including, food, medicine, or recreation. So when you are “actively using the land” through wildlife management practices, these are your activities. For more information, see Wildlife Practices.
Browse (browsing) – To feed on soft shoots, leaves, green stems, or fruits often of higher-growing woody plants such as shrubs.
Browsing is distinguished from grazing as grazing is done by clipping vegetation such as grass at or near the ground level. Deer browse, steers graze.
Bonus! Browse may also be used as a noun. The hard freeze took a toll on the browse, leaving hungry deer in search of food.
Conservation Easement – A restriction placed on property by a landowner to limit certain types of uses, or prevent development from taking place, to protect the land for future generations while allowing the owner to retain many private property rights, to continue living on and using the land, and potentially gaining certain tax benefits.
For more information, see Easing Into Conservation Easements in Texas: A Primer.
Denning – Retreating of wildlife to a lair or shelter usually for the winter.
Denning is a survival tool for rattlesnakes, for example, as they gather together to stay warm in a community den – such as a cave or rocky recess – to hibernate for the winter. For more information, see Snake, Rattle, and Hole: Rattlesnake Denning.
Ecosystem – An interconnected community of organisms that rely on the presence and actions of each other for their environment to survive and thrive.
From Chiggers: A Knowledge and Survival Guide: “Ask virtually any wildlife biologist the why of just about anything from snakes to scorpions and you’ll most likely get a well-reasoned answer, typically involving the term ‘ecosystem’…the ecosystem argument can even be made for chiggers.”
Feral – In a wild or natural state, often after escaping from domestication or captivity.
If you’re a landowner in Texas, odds are high you are familiar with feral hogs, but they’re not the only ones on the loose, see Beauty Gone Wild: Feral Peacocks in Texas.
Forb – Generally, a broad-leafed flowering herbaceous plant that is not a grass.
When friends look out your window and remark on the deer grazing on grass, you can let them know they’re actually browsing on forbs.
Do you have a favorite wildlife management word or term you think should make the dictionary? Let us know!
More to come…