It’s estimated that more than 50 percent of Arkansas’ 18.7 million forested acres is owned by private landowners. For this reason, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is offering several workshops in January and February to educate landowners on wildlife habitat management.

“The workshops cover habitat needs for bobwhites, turkey, waterfowl and deer, and ways landowners can get cost-share assistance for some practices,” says Becky McPeake, associate professor and Extension wildlife specialist.

The first workshop is Saturday, Jan. 31, at Eagle View Catering in Searcy, Ark. The workshop will focus on habitat development and management for turkey and quail. Contact the White County Extension Service office for more information.

The Wildlife Habitat Improvement Workshop will be Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center in Barling. Workshop topics include habitat development for deer, duck, quail and turkey. The Crawford County Extension Service office has registration information.

Finally, The Bucks and Ducks Habitat Improvement Program will round out the series of workshops on Saturday, Feb. 28. Participants will learn how to develop a habitat for waterfowl, deer, turkey and quail. Registration is available through the Lawrence County Extension Service office.

The timing is right for landowners who want to learn more about developing wildlife habitats. More workshops are being planned for March and April.

“There are various steps landowners can take to develop a wildlife habitat, it just depends on what they’re hoping to attract, whether it’s quail, turkey, deer or waterfowl,” McPeake says.

Quail populations have dramatically declined in the last 30 years. McPeake says there are numerous conservation efforts landowners can take part in to reverse the declining populations.

Turkey populations have done well in some parts of the state, but improvements to habitats would certainly help maintain and expand the population in the state.

Deer are an adaptable species and can actually benefit from improvements to quail and turkey populations. If a landowner makes habitat improvements for quail and turkey, it will help deer as well.

“The weather conditions were just right for migrating ducks to make a stop in Arkansas this past year,” says McPeake. “The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission counted more than one million ducks in the state in December, that’s an 84 percent increase from 2007.”

While weather conditions are certainly an important factor in the high numbers of ducks in the state, McPeake says having the right habitat is key for attracting ducks.