Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

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.

People: TPWD’s New Vet

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Bob Dittmar, TPWD veterinarian.

Bob Dittmar, TPWD veterinarian.

This is Passport to Texas

Veterinarian Bob Dittmar’s job is to help maintain healthy wildlife populations in Texas now and into the future.

17—My wife’s telling everybody that I’m going to be making sure that my grand kids and great-grand kids have wildlife to enjoy in the future. I’m going to be a part helping to ensure that our wildlife populations are healthy, and looking at it more from a veterinary medical standpoint than strictly a management and biological standpoint.

Dittmar is TPW’s first staff veterinarian. With an office in Kerrville, he’s currently spending time on the road meeting with regional biologists and technicians to further understand the needs among game and non-game species.

27—Right now, my job is to determine where I’m going to fit in and how I’m going to help. A lot of it is going to maybe be validating some of the things that the department has done in the past; maybe finding some new things that I would fit in and work on. But helping to analyze some of the date, doing some educational and training programs so that the field people will be able to recognize a disease situation or problem as it develops so we can take appropriate action.

More with Doctor Bob Dittmar – wildlife vet – tomorrow.

The WSFR 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.

Nature: Adaptations

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Dr. Gary Garrett

Dr. Gary Garrett

This is Passport to Texas

Some animal and plant species evolve in specific locations – like springs – and only exist there and nowhere else.

25—Typically what happens is you have the ancestral version of the species throughout. Things like head springs, or spring areas, those are special isolated type environments. The temperature doesn’t change; the water chemistry doesn’t change because it’s coming out of the ground. So you’ll have animals that start specializing for that very stable environment. So certainly in springs throughout the state we’ve often seen specialized animals.

Dr. Garry Garret, a fisheries biologist formerly with TPW says biologists work to understand specialization among these species.

27—But the other real useful thing about understanding this is these are called indicator species. They’ve been around for thousands of years…they’ve done just fine…as biologists we monitor their status. When we see their status starting to go down, it tells us that the environment they’re in is going down. Not just them. They’re an indicator of a larger problem. So by watching these animals or plants they tell us in advance of things degrading that ultimately may affect humans. So they’re kind of our early warning system.

And we can all use a little warning when change is afoot.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and funds diverse research projects throughout Texas

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

Wildlife: Ocelot Mortality in South Texas

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Endangered Ocelot

Endangered Ocelot

This is Passport to Texas

An estimated 50 endangered ocelots survive in the thick brush and shelters of the Lower Rio Grande Valley… including Cameron County. As the human population there grows, so do cat/car run-ins. The USFW service reported four ocelot deaths on Highway 100, which goes to South Padre Island, in as many years.

09—TXDOT is working with US Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the best way to keep ocelots off the road, but also allow for disbursement into other habitat areas.

When it comes to roads and wildlife, TXDOT gets involved. Octavio Saenz works out their Pharr office.

19—We’re also trying to determine the best locations to place wildlife crossings to allow the ocelot and other wildlife to travel under the roadways. And, in the interim, we’re trying to determine the best locations to fence and allow the ocelot to travel across the roadways at narrow locations to minimize the number of mortalities on the roadway.

Until then, if you live in or are visiting that area of Texas, be aware of who and what shares the road with you.

13—In Cameron County, look out for the wildlife crossing signs; slow down to a safe speed when you see the signs. And also, be alert – especially during the dawn and the dusk hours – when the ocelot will be most likely traveling.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Wildlife: Prevention of White Nose Syndrome

Friday, August 29th, 2014
Bat with White Nose Syndrome

Bat with White Nose Syndrome, Image © Sweetbriar College.

This is Passport to Texas

If caving is one of your pastimes, here’s something you should know: a fungal disease called white nose syndrome has been is killing North American bats since 2006.

07—There are certain caves where bats hibernate where 90 to 100 percent of the bats that hibernate in that cave have died from the disease.

The fungus is also found in European caves though the bats there are essentially immune. This suggests the fungus may have evolved with their bats. Texas Parks and Wildlife mammalogist, Jonah Evans says researchers speculate people who visited European caves may have unwittingly brought fungal spores into North American caves on shoes or other gear. To prevent the spread of white nose fungal spores by humans…

10— Avoid entry into caves if at all possible, otherwise do a very stringent decontamination and be really careful about getting leaned
up when you leave a cave.

Find decontamination protocol at

So why care? Bats are beneficial agricultural allies, eating tons of insects during their nightly flights, allowing farmers to reduce or eliminate insecticide use on food crops, and save money. They also serve as pollinators of important crops and are just fascinating animals.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series… and receives funds from your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel.

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