Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

TPW TV: The State of Quail

Friday, November 13th, 2015

This is Passport to Texas

Grassland birds throughout North America, including the bobwhite quail, have been in decline.

06—Over the past 20, 30 years—we’ve seen serious declines across its entire range, including Texas.

Robert Perez is upland game bird program manager for Parks and Wildlife. He and others concerned about this enigmatic species’ survival appear in a segment called The State of Quail on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

07— Fundamentally, conservationists agree that the root cause is the changes in the quality and quantity of habitat.

During the segment, airing next week, watch conservation groups and private landowners, like Jim Willis, collaborate to improve habitat for quail, by planting native grasses, which provide shelter, seeds and insects for the birds.

19— This is a sample of a native grass. This plant contributes to the health of the land. This is the way you conserve moisture. Man has come in and ripped out a lot of this native grass and planted what we call improved grasses, which is really not improved, they’re invasive species, like Bermuda grass, and Bahia grass, and they don’t give back to the soil. They take from the soil.

The State of Quail airs the week of November 15 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

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

Wildlife Trail Maps

Thursday, November 5th, 2015
Wildlife Trail Maps

Wildlife Trail Maps

This is Passport to Texas

Texas is a big place with lots to do and to see for the wildlife lover; knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming. No worries. Texas Parks and Wildlife has a solution.

04-We have nine distinct maps; each covers a region of Texas.

They are the Great Texas Wildlife Trails Maps, and encompass more than 960 sites statewide. Liz Tomberlin works in nature tourism at Parks and Wildlife.

20-And [the maps] cover everything from migratory bird watching spots–to burrowing owls–to the prairie chicken leks in the panhandle plains. The monarch migration–we’ve had some great spots to see monarchs. All the way through to bat-watching, and all sorts of other mammals and birds and amphibians that you can see throughout Texas.

The agency updated the Heart of Texas West and East maps recently to ensure users have access to the most current information–information that goes beyond
where to find native critters.

17-Our maps include information for general tourists. There’s information for convention bureaus and visitors’ centers on there; each of our sites includes GPS coordinates; driving directions from major highways; a short description of the site and what you can expect to see there, and a phone number so you can contact someone.

Find more information about The Great Wildlife Trails Maps, including free, interactive versions of the maps on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Being Safe in the Company of Alligators

Friday, October 30th, 2015
American Alligator

American Alligator

This is Passport to Texas

The American Alligator may be one of the most fearsome creatures roaming Texas. We find them in slow-moving rivers, ponds, lakes and swamps–and even in our neighborhoods, which prompts calls to Texas Parks and Wildlife saying:

02- I’ve got an alligator here; what do I need to do.

Steve Lightfoot, Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesperson, says the first thing we need to do is to be realistic.

06-It’s alligator country, and we’re going to have more confrontations if we encroach on their space.

Chance encounters increase as we encroach on alligator habitat with residential and commercial developments. Steve Lightfoot says if you see a gator, leave it alone; it will move on. However, if one does become a nuisance…

23- If one’s acting aggressively, if its making threatening moves towards you–back away slowly. We’ve got a lot of tips on our website that tell people common things to do when you’re in confrontation with an alligator. Call our game wardens. We’ve got game wardens in every county–they’re used to dealing with these kinds of things. They’ll come out and assess the situation. If an alligator needs to be relocated–they’ll take care of it.

Find tips for peaceful coexistence with the American alligator on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…Cecilia Nasti

Merlin Tuttle is Batman

Monday, October 19th, 2015
Merlin showing free-tailed bat to visitors at Bracken Cave during a National Public Radio interview. Media

Merlin showing free-tailed bat to visitors at Bracken Cave.

This is Passport to Texas

Merlin Tuttle was a curious kid destined to become a scientist. He lived near a bat cave in high school and started making observations.

13- I found that the bats came in the spring and the fall, but were not there any other time of year. Yet, when I identified them, the field guides that I had said that this species of bat lived in one cave year round.

He wanted this misinformation corrected.

16-So, I caught some. I actually made specimens of a couple of them so that I could prove that I had what I said I had. And convinced my mother, just as a teenager, to drive me to the Smithsonian so I could tell the guys that wrote the books that there was something wrong.

So began a 55 year career that’s taken Dr. Tuttle around the world studying bats. He’s engages in hands on conservation and public education. One goal: remove the public’s fear of bats.

26-People hear that bats are dangerous–they’re going to cause you to get sick with some terrible malady. But in reality, bats have one of the finest safety records of any animal on our planet of living safely with humans. People like me, I’ve studies bats for 55 years now on every continent where they exist, spending literally hundreds if not thousands of hours actually in caves surrounded by millions of bats. And I’m still healthy!

Merlin Tuttle’s written about his life with bats in THE SECRET LIVES OF BATS: My Adventures with the World’s Most Misunderstood Mammals. It comes out this week.

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

Quail Going Gangbusters

Thursday, October 15th, 2015
Bobwhite Quail

Bobwhite Quail

This is Passport to Texas

Late winter through early summer rainfall created ideal breeding conditions for quail in most parts of Texas.

14-We’re getting reports from all over from our staff that they’ve not seen this many quail in several years in some places–in other places, in decades. We’re talking about a species that has the potential to boom. And I think in some part of the state that’s what we’re seeing.

Before this, quail were in decline throughout much of the state, says upland game bird program leader, Robert Perez. Currently, large broods of chicks in all age classes dot the landscape.

07-This tells us that the window of opportunity was wide [due to abundant resources], and that when bobwhite hens had a nest failure, they were able to start again.

Perez is quick to point out that drought, alone, is not the cause of quail decline. Habitat loss is another factor.

23-And that’s where Parks and Wildlife has gone to great lengths to work with partners and landowners and wildlife cooperatives to bring quail back. And it’s important to remember that the rangelands of south Texas and the rangelands of the Rolling Plains, up into the Panhandle–quail are there because its big open spaces, and the land use is [mostly] compatible with bobwhite quail. And when the weather is great, we see that response. But, in other parts of the state,
we’ve really lost a lot of the available habitat.

Find information about quail restoration 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.