Archive for August, 2017

Texas State Bison Music Fest

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017
Bison making plans to attend Bison Fest September 23.

Bison making plans to attend Bison Fest September 23.

This is Passport to Texas

Caprock Canyon State Park is home to the official state bison herd, comprised of descendants of the original southern plains bison that wandered the Great Plains.

We think we’re at about 150 [bison], plus this year’s calf crop, which should be about 30 or so.

Superintendent Donald Beard oversees this growing, free-roaming herd. Restoration efforts of the animals and their native habitat takes time and money. That’s where the Texas State Bison Music Festival comes in.

We were just looking for a fun fundraiser, and we decided that this would be pretty fun. And by all means it is. This year we’re headlining it with the Randy Rogers Band. But we also have Mark Powell, Zach Wilkerson, Sarah Hobbs, and Kevin Deal. It’s a street dance; we close off part of the town. The festival is held in the town of Quitiquae. We have all kinds of live music. Food vendors. Arts and crafts – and all day fun on a Saturday. This year it’s going to be September 23rd.

Proceeds from The Texas State Bison Music Festival on September 23, go directly to bison research and habitat restoration at Caprock Canyons SP. Find compete details and ticket prices at bisonfest.com.

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

New Pictographs Discovered

Monday, August 21st, 2017
Pictograph at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site.

Pictograph at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site.

This is Passport to Texas

For thousands of years, people have trekked to the rock hills in far west Texas where they found rainwater pooled in natural basins called huecos.

Today, visitors to Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site enjoy the rock hills for bouldering, which is a form of rock climbing, and the rock paintings, or pictographs, left by those ancient people.

After a year-long survey using D-stretch image enhancement technology, researchers discovered previously unknown pictographs in 29 locations. These areas will remain closed to recreational activities to protect the fragile artwork from potential impacts.

A list of closed climbs has been provided to the guides and to visitors on the North Mountain.

The majority of the pictographs are in the Jornada style, named for the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon culture of western Texas, southern New Mexico and northern Mexico.

These Native Americans were the first farmers in the region, and it’s believed they created the paintings about 550 to 1,000 years ago for use in prayers for rain. Some things never change.

Hueco Tanks is a significant cultural resource in the El Paso area that reflects at least 10,000 years of history. Find more information about the site at texasstateparks.org.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

TPW TV — Hop for the Future

Friday, August 18th, 2017
Collecting data on Kangaroo Rat.

Collecting data on Kangaroo Rat.

This is Passport to Texas

According to Dr. Randy Simpson, kangaroo rats are…

They’re about the handsomest rodent that you can find.

The problem is, you can’t find them. At least not many of them, anyway. Simpson is Wildlife Biology Program Director at Texas State. During a Texas Parks and Wildlife TV segment airing next week on PBS, graduate students, including Silas Ott, survey the species near the Texas/Oklahoma border.

So, it does seem to be pretty rare geographically. It’s only been found in 11 counties in Texas. And within the past 20 years, it’s only been found in five of those 11 counties.

Ott and his cohorts locate fresh burrows and set traps and cameras. Dr. Simpson.

Are we seeing just the last vestiges of populations that are hanging on? We don’t know. I think that that’s the reason Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service want to find that out.

Nathan Rains is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He’s assisting Texas State, and says the agency helped to fund the research through its grant program.

It’s obviously declining. We don’t have a lot of great information on this species, so we’re trying to learn as much as we can. But it’s a species we’re concerned about, and it’s been a concern for awhile.

Catch the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV segment Hop for the Future next week on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series funds kangaroo rat surveys and management in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

ID and Dispatch the Cactus Moth

Thursday, August 17th, 2017
Photo credits: (top) Susan Ellis, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org; (mid) Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org; (bottom) CMDMN

Photo credits: (top) Susan Ellis, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org; (mid) Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org; (bottom) CMDMN

This is Passport to Texas

Prickly pear cacti are economically important to Texas and Mexico. They’re also the larval food of the cactus moth, a voracious nonnative species that’s heading westward toward our state.

As of 2009 it’s south of New Orleans. So, it’s just over 200 miles from the Texas border.

Invertebrate biologist Michael Warriner says the larvae of this prolific South American moth species can decimate prickly pear populations. The adult insect is non-descript and difficult to identify, but the larvae is easier to recognize.

Looking for the larvae or evidence of feeding damage is the best thing to look for. The caterpillars themselves are a bright orange to red coloration with black bands or spots. The larvae spend most of their time inside of the prickly pear pad, and they basically hollow it out. So the pad, as the larvae feed on it, will become transparent and they’ll eventually just collapse.

Researchers are developing methods of managing the moth. Until then, if you see infested plants…

You can still control it by removing the infested pads and that would help. Disposing and burning them. Or simply enclosing them in some kind of plastic bag to heat up the larvae and kill them.

Find links to more information about the cactus moth at passporttotexas.org.

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

Cactus Moth: a Prickly Situation

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017
Map from presentation by Kristen Sauby, from her presentation to the  Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.

Map from presentation by Kristen Sauby to the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.

This is Passport to Texas

There’s a moth making its way to Texas from Florida whose larvae feed exclusively on prickly pear cactus.

The cactus moth has proven to be a really effective eradicator of prickly pear.

Invertebrate biologist, Michael Warriner, says Australian officials imported the cactus moth—native to South America—in the mid-1920s as a biological control against the invasive, nonnative coastal prickly pear.

And over a few years, it didn’t totally eliminate it, but it reduced it substantially. So, it’s proven to be one of the most successful biological control agents, as far as insects go.

The moth, discovered in the Florida Keys in 1989, may have arrived on imported prickly pears, and since then has spread up to South Carolina and as far west as Louisiana.

So, the concern is that if it makes it to the southwestern United States and Mexico that it could have a similar impact and eradicate or reduce prickly pear; and the fact is that—for Mexico especially—prickly pear is a major agricultural commodity in the tens of millions of dollars in terms of value. And it’s worth millions of dollars in the US, too: for agriculture and biodiversity and landscaping.

Tomorrow: How to identify and prevent the spread of the cactus moth.

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