Archive for the 'SFWR' Category

Conservation: Conservation Detection Dogs

Monday, November 10th, 2014
Alice Whitelaw and Tia, inspecting boats for zebra mussels in California

Alice Whitelaw and Tia, inspecting boats for zebra mussels in California


This is Passport to Texas

Most dogs like to work. And Pete Coppolillo is hiring. He is Executive Director of Working Dogs for Conservation in Bozeman, Montana. Since the mid-1990s, his organization’s trained dogs as a non-invasive alternative method for collecting data on hard to find wildlife.

05—By non-invasive, I mean we don’t have to capture them, we don’t have to handle them, we don’t even have to see them.

Then, just how are researchers using dogs?

06—So, the idea is we train a dog to find their scat, usually, which to non-biologists is a polite word for poop.

By detecting scat, the dogs help researchers determine the range, sex, and diet (among other things) of certain wildlife species. Pete said they first trained dogs to sniff out grizzly bear and wolf scat, but didn’t stop there.

28—Dogs can do everything from scat to live animal work to invasive weeds. Even invertebrates, like Emerald Ash Borer; they can find their larvae or their eggs. And, [we] even [use the dogs to detect] aquatic invasives like zebra and quagga mussels – to inspect boats. Because, the mussels can be in cracks, or inside, where a visual inspection can’t see them. Or the dogs can even detect the veligers, which are microscopic larvae that we can’t see.

Not all dogs are suited to this work. Learn more about these dogs at Working Dogs for Conservation.

More on that tomorrow. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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

Fishing: Big Fish with Big Fight — Alligator Gar

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Alligator Gar in the Trinity River

Alligator Gar in the Trinity River



This is Passport to Texas

Alligator gar, virtually unchanged from prehistoric times, is attracting an enthusiastic 21st Century following.

04—The species in recent years has become very popular amongst anglers and bow fishers.

David Buckmeier is a fisheries scientist for parks and wildlife. To fish for gar, you have to know where to find them.

21—Most alligator gar are found in coastal rivers along the eastern part of the state; rivers like the Trinity are very, very well-known for their alligator gar populations. They’re also found in our coastal bays. They’re an interesting species in that they can go back and forth—maybe not into full salt water like in the gulf—but definitely in the bay systems. And they can go back and forth into the river and into those upper parts of those bays.

The alligator gar is the largest freshwater fish in Texas and gives anglers a good fight.

16—Yes, they actually fight quite well. As you can imagine, any fish that weighs 150 or 200 pounds has a lot of power. So, they do fight; they actually jump quite a bit. They’ll completely clear the water. There’s some variations; some of them are more sluggish than others. But, they’re very entertaining and that’s the reason, I guess, for the popularity.

Anglers may keep one of these big fish per day. Learn more about freshwater fishing at the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish restoration program supports our series.

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

Conservation: Money for Quail

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Bobwhite quail in Texas

Bobwhite quail in Texas



This is Passport to Texas

There’s new hope for bobwhite quail.

13—Four million dollars of the upland game bird stamp fund was authorized by the legislature this past session to specifically go towards further developing this concept of focus areas for bobwhite quail and grassland birds.

The “focus area” concept is one TPW upland game bird program leader, Robert Perez, has worked on for years.

08—Well, a focus area is an intensive effort within a small area to demonstrate that quail restoration can be successful.

Most focus areas are east of the I-35: places where quail are gone, said Perez, but they haven’t been gone long.

23— One of our focus areas in the Columbus-Seely area, southeast Texas. Another is the Navarro-Ellis area, along the I-35 corridor where Waxahachie is. Another is West of Dallas a good ways over towards Wichita Falls, around Clay County and south. So these are the front lines of bobwhite decline; birds are still around, but they’re noticeably rarer.

The agency awarded 15 grants, with two more in process, to nonprofits, universities and others for grassland restoration. Grantees will use the $4 million dollars over a two year grant period.

19—But that doesn’t mean that the project is over at the end of two years. Because the impacts – when you start to turn the dirt or manipulate habitat – those effects go on for years. And so what’s most important is to continue to monitor – think of the future beyond those two years – to really understand and paint a good picture of what the impacts are of these types of manipulations.

Find quail information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

TPW Magazine: The Allure of Antlers

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Big antlers on a fine buck.

Big antlers on a fine buck.



This is Passport to Texas

Deer provided sustenance to ancient people who hunted them. Today, deer hunters seek more than a meal.

05— You never see anyone take a picture with a nice backstrap. It’s always the antlers.

What is the allure of antlers? Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine editor, Louie Bond, says they tackle the question in November’s cover story; just in time for deer season.

05—We always like to look at deer hunting stories in different ways than other publications might.

While nourishment was their main reason for hunting deer, like modern hunters, ancient peoples also valued the antlers…but for different reasons.

16—Medicine men from back then believed that you could grind up the antlers and use them to cure all sorts of ailments. As writer Mike Cox says, they were sort of the Home Depot raw materials selection of the day as you made knife handles, and scrapers and all sorts of implements and tools out of them.

Louie Bond says she originally intended the story, The Allure of Antlers, as a photo-essay in Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

15—But, then when we began digging into all of the cultural stuff, and Mike Cox is our great historian here at Texas Parks and Wildlife; it was right up his ally. So, he started looking into the cultural references and medicinal aspects, and then we decided there was just too much story here to ignore.

Discover how antlers transitioned from tools to trophies in the November issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

People: New TPWD Vet Finds His Footing

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Wrestling with bighorn sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep translocation project.



This is Passport to Texas

Before Bob Dittmar joined Texas Parks and Wildlife this year as its first-ever staff veterinarian, he was in private practice in Kerrville. In his new position, he’s learning to shift focus from domestic animals and livestock to wildlife.

09—The challenge is that it’s a different situation than private practice. There’s going to be a learning curve for me just to fit into Parks and Wildlife.

He’s no stranger to the agency, though, having assisted with projects including the translocation of desert bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope. He expects his work will be as varied as the state, itself, and include the collection and analysis of data, as well as hands on work with wildlife.

22—I’ll be working more hands on, and we’ll be looking into whatever situation might occur [among the state’s wildlife], and I’ll continue to work with the capture and translocation projects with the Bighorn Sheep and Pronghorn antelope. And there may be other things that we do as well. As time goes on we may look into more and more research projects in the wild that would involve more hands on work with other species.

Learn more about Texas wildlife and how it’s managed, when you log onto the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and funds its work through your purchase of hunting and fishing equipment and motorboat fuel.

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