Wildlife Management and Conservation Practices Create Healthy Ecosystems for Agriculture on the Chesapeake Bay

October 15, 2019

Wildlife is welcome at Chesapeake Farms.

The 3,300-acre wildlife haven on the eastern shore of Maryland is operated by Corteva Agriscience™ and permanently protected from development.

In operation for 60 years, Chesapeake Farms is a destination for public wildlife education, product demonstration, and research on wildlife management projects. The farm is an excellent example of how farm owners can successfully manage wildlife to the benefit of animals and farmers alike.

Wildlife are critical to the health of agricultural ecosystems. Their presence can improve soil health and water quality, provide habitats for pollinators, and protect biodiversity, all of which support the productivity and resilience of cultivated land. At the same time, wildlife in agricultural areas need to be carefully managed to reduce the possibility of human-wildlife conflicts, nuisance and pest animals, crop damage, and wildlife disease.

At Chesapeake Farms, wildlife wander throughout 1,085 acres of agricultural fields, 1,700 acres of woodlands, and 515 acres of ponds, marshes, fields, and hedges that are managed intensively for wildlife. The area also includes a peninsula with approximately five miles of shoreline on tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.

Through their practices, the farm today has healthy deer populations and supports 24 species of mammals, 33 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 134 species of birds. That includes a spectacular array of nesting bald eagles, an eagle roost area that typically supports 20 or more eagles, a population of the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel, thousands of wintering waterfowl, and over 100 species of songbirds.

The interspersion of woodlands, forested wetlands, uplands, productive farmland, ponds, and tidal waters in concert with careful management produces the incredible diversity of wildlife — which public visitors often experience along a five-mile, self-guided driving tour that runs through the farm.

Researchers from universities like the University of Maryland and the University of Delaware also study the farm. Their findings provide data on wildlife management practices while also helping Chesapeake Farms optimize their own programs.

Chesapeake Farms continues to be an ideal location for conducting research on all kinds of fauna that inhibit the sprawling operational farm. Since the lands are protected, the farm will prove to be a valuable resource for generations to come — continuing to inform the conversation on effective and sustainable wildlife management.

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