Archive for June, 2009

Mason Mountain WMA

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program

Located in the central mineral region of the Texas hill country, about six miles northwest of the town of Mason, is Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

It’s a pretty unique region in Texas, where you have the huge granite boulders that have uplifted; it’s an extension of the same uplift that created Enchanted Rock.

Mark Mitchell is a biologist at the 53-hundred acre site.

We’ve got some bottomlands, we’ve got the granite gravel uplift. We’ve got the more traditional hill country habitat such as the limestone hills.

The site supports diverse native flora and fauna, including: six hundred fifty identified plant species, spiny crevice lizards, black bellied tree ducks, white tailed deer, javalina, and black-capped vireos, just to name a few.

I think for the hill country and a 53-hundred acre management area, we may have as much diversity as you can possibly find.

Because of exotic species like gemsbok and impala and outstanding facilities on the site when the agency acquired it, the WMA is self-supporting.

We don’t receive tax dollars for operation and maintenance of the area; we have to generate our own income. And we do that through — primarily – guided hunts. And because of the facilities that were here when we obtained the place, we can host conservation meetings.

Access to Mason Mountain WMA is limited to hunters with  a Special Permit, or to groups that make prior arrangements. That’s our show… made possible by a grant from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Kerr Wildlife Management Area

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program

The Hill Country is the crown jewel of Texas. And the Kerr Wildlife Management Area teaches landowners how to keep it polished.

We’re a 65-hundred acre wildlife research and demonstration area for the Edward’s plateau ecological area. And it serves as our experiment station for private landowners to come out and find out more about the basic tools of wildlife management.

Donnie Frels is the area manager. While wildlife species at the Kerr WMA are typical for the region, plant diversity is unique by Hill Country standards.

We keep animal numbers in check, and we make sure that we maintain our grazing animals within the carrying capacity of the range, and our plant species and diversity reflect that now.

Research on the site also protects three endangered species: the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireos and the tobusch fishhook cactus.

And we do surveys for all three of these species; and our management program benefits not only white-tailed deer but those endangered species as well.

The site is open to the public for wildlife viewing during daylight hours when public hunting is not underway, and offers a driving tour brochure for those visiting the site. Learn more at passporttotexas.org.

That’s out show… made possible by a grant from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration program… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Living with Gators

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program

With more alligators being spotted by the public in residential areas, you might think you’d be better off selling your home. The fact is… there’s no need to panic if and when you see a gator in your neighborhood.

We’re just trying to help people put it into perspective. People will begin to see more and more alligators in the future and not every alligator is going to be a problem.

Greg Creacy is a wildlife biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says horror movies and attacks by the more dangerous and non-native crocodiles have caused people to be afraid of Texas alligators.

The number of attacks by alligators in the United States each year is less than injuries and fatalities from dogs and scorpions and snakes and sharks…all of those are much more dangerous to people than alligators.

So what do you do if you see an alligator? Keep a safe distance from them and keep your pets away from them. Don’t swim in an area where there are alligators…and don’t feed them.

Because people have fed that alligator they’ve broken down their natural fear that alligators have for people.

And you know that’s not good. That’s our show for today…For information on living with alligators, as well as research reports and basic natural history, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Web site. Our show is produced with a grant from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Rock Climbing

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Brad Bell doesn’t think twice when you ask him why anyone would climb a rock.

Why would someone wanna…because it’s there…

The Austin resident teaches the sport of rock climbing. He says although you don’t need rock-hard abs to climb –before you attempt this sport — a little weight training may be the first order…

Upper body strength is good and leg strength is even more of a plus.

There ya go…push with your hand and then move your hand up to the next one…there ya go. Pull on up…good!

And even though rock climbing offers climbers a feeling of solitude, it is critical – whether you’re a novice or a seasoned climber — never go alone.

You should always have team partners… when you go you should never do it alone because up there you have to have a partner to help you belay and help you repel down and basically it’s a team effort all the way up.

Four Texas state parks offer rock climbing: Enchanted Rock, north of Fredericksburg, Hueco Tanks, just north of El Paso, Caprock Canyons southeast of Amarillo and Lake Mineral Wells.

That’s our show for today…for Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

The Truth About Molting

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program

Waterfowl molt twice a year. During their first molt in summer they lose all of their feathers because of damage that occurred during their grueling migration.

Their second molt of the year—at least for the drakes— now that’s a little bit different. That molt has more to do with romance…the waterfowl version of it, anyway.

And this molt is the replacement of feathers – putting on their breeding plumage …for the males of waterfowl species this is the time you start seeing the very, very colorful plumage which is an attractant for attracting mates.

Kevin Kraai is a waterfowl specialist in East Texas. Kraai says the hens also molt at this time, but instead of getting a bright set of feathers…

The females do the exact opposite. They put on more camouflage or cryptic plumage…because where they nest…they actually nest in the uplands….up in the grass….very vulnerable to predators. And the more camouflaged they are the more likely it is they’ll survive. One sex is putting on very, very vibrant colors and the other one is putting on very, very cryptic colors…for the same purpose.

You can learn more about waterfowl plumage at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Web site.

That’s our show for today…made possible by a grant from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…working to increase fishing, hunting, shooting and boating opportunities in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.