Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Cats and Birds Don’t Mix

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
My indoor-only cat Gigi staring out the window at birds, wishing they were in her mouth.

My indoor-only cat Gigi staring out the window at birds, wishing they were in her mouth.

This is Passport to Texas

Pet cats are a pleasure until they leave a half-eaten bird on the welcome mat.

02—You can’t take the killer out of a cat.

Ornithologist and cat owner, Cliff Shackelford, says cats always follow their natural instincts.

05—Even a well-fed cat is going to still kill things, and it won’t even eat it; it’s very wasteful.

Cats take a big bite out of bird populations annually, which is why they’re better as indoor-only pets.

11—The estimate is in the millions of birds killed per year in the US by cats. And that’s feral cats and pet cats combined.

Cats are not bad; they’re simply out of place in the natural environment. And, bird-loving cat owners sometimes unwittingly enable their outdoor cat’s brutish behavior.

17—Sometimes we encourage them by putting the feeder a little too close to the shrubs, and the tall grass, where the cat can hide in to pounce on the bird at the feeder. So, you want to make sure you keep your feeders away where the cats can’t get to the birds, or the birds have a chance to flee.

Not convinced it’s best to keep kitty inside? Well, animal experts agree that indoor cats have better, longer lives.

13—If you love your cat keep it indoors; it will live longer, it won’t fight with other cats, it won’t get run over. So, I have cats and they stay inside. They like to look at birds; they just do it on the inside of the glass—looking out—like I do.

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

After the Floods

Thursday, August 13th, 2015
Cedar Hill State Park after the flood.

Cedar Hill State Park after the flood.

This is Passport to Texas

A year ago this time, the majority of the state was in the throes of exceptional drought. That changed Memorial Day weekend 2015 when the skies opened up over Texas.

10- The official status from the US Drought Monitor is that Texas is about 92 percent drought-free right now, which we haven’t seen in many, many years.

And this is good news, says Cindy Loeffler, water resources branch chief at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

11- That’s not to say that every part of the state is completely drought free. If you go up into the Texas Panhandle, there are still some regions up there that would dearly love to have a bit of this rainfall.

For areas that received extreme rainfall, changes are evident, and biologists are optimistic about the short and long term affects.

20- Many of our reservoirs have been so low that you couldn’t even access via boat ramps to go fishing. And so now that situation has been improved. And then a lot of the terrestrial and wildlife biologists are very excited about–not only the conditions now–but going into the fall, for deer, white-tailed deer, mule
deer, migrating waterfowl–that kind of thing in the fall.

You won’t have to wait long to see those outcomes, as fall is right around the corner.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Water and Wildlife

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

This is Passport to Texas

Water affects nearly everything Texas Parks and Wildlife does.

06— We manage the state’s fish and wildlife resources, and of course, they need water to live and thrive.

Cindy Loeffler is water resources branch chief at TPW.

11— Our state parks—people who want to recreate on water—it’s important to have flowing rivers and streams and lakes with water in them. And people. We need water. So, everything we do is affected by water.

After five years of devastating drought, Texas finally received substantial rainfall Memorial Day weekend; but it was too much, too fast. It caused flooding in parts of the state, which resulted in loss of property and life. Even so, it left behind a glimmer of hope.

22— There are benefits to the ecosystem. So, everything from seeing rivers flowing once again—reconnecting with the floodplain; very important for the riparian vegetation along rivers and streams. Flushing out some of the nuisance aquatic species… These rainfall events are sort of like resetting a clock when it comes to our thirsty ecosystems across the state.

Now that we have water—what’s next? Find out on tomorrow’s show.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Save Snags for Wildlife

Friday, July 31st, 2015
Dead standing tree, or snag, serves as habitat for wildlife. Image courtesy University of Missouri Extension.

Dead standing trees, or snags, serve as habitat for wildlife. Image courtesy University of Missouri Extension.

This is Passport to Texas

A snag is a standing, dead tree.

08— Most homeowners don’t like them because they can be a problem if it’s about to fall on the house, or the car, or the playscape.

Texas Parks and Wildlife ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, recommends removing snags that pose risks to safety. However…

13— If that dead tree is not going to fall on anything—it’s full of life. It’s where the woodpeckers are feeding because there are beetles therein; it could be where the owl is going to perch that is going to eat the rodents on your property.

Cliff shares how he handled two dead trees in his yard.

17— We measured how far they were from falling on anything—like the house. So, one of them was 21 feet from the house; I made them cut it down to 19 feet. So, that way, if it fell over, it wasn’t going to be able to even jump that extra two feet and hit the house.

Cliff Shackelford says his reward for sparing the snag is great wildlife viewing and extra money in his pocket.

14— When we left that trunk of the three—that 19 feet—we saved money. Because, that’s the heaviest part of the tree to haul off. So, we saved several hundred dollars by just leaving that 19 foot of the trunk; and the wildlife love it.

Plus, he chipped the broken limbs, mixed them with horse manure, and once it aged, had garden mulch. Find more wildscaping tips on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

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

Revisiting Paddlefish in Big Cypress Bayou

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Paddlefish at hatchery, photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service

Paddlefish at hatchery, photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service

This is Passport to Texas

Paddlefish, once abundant in the Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake, started disappearing following construction of a dam at Lake of the Pines in the late 1950s.

07- So, basically, it took away the flows that the paddlefish need, and it took away their spawning substrate; eventually paddlefish just went away.

Inland fisheries’ Tim Bister says in spring 2014 a broad coalition of non-profits, landowners, and government agencies, reintroduced paddlefish into the system. But they first made improvements to benefit the rare species, including development of natural water releases upstream from Lake of the Pines, and gravel bar spawning areas.

14-We stocked 47 paddlefish, a year and a half old, between two and three feet long. And each were implanted with a radio transmitter, with a specific radio frequency that could be identified by a radio receiver.

Researchers tracked the paddlefish to see whether they would swim downstream over the spillway at Caddo Lake, and into Louisiana.

12-[If they did], they wouldn’t be able to swim back upstream because of that barrier. So, we wanted to make sure, by tracking these paddlefish, to see if they’re going to stay in the system. And after a year, I’m happy to say, that no fish were seen going over the spillway.

The radio transmitter batteries are fading, but the data collected so far is promising. Until the paddlefish reach reproductive maturity, we won’t know if we’ll see a self-sustaining population in Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Supports our series.

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