Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Step Softly and Look Out for Diamondbacks

Friday, April 21st, 2017
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

This is Passport to Texas

Now that spring is in full swing, you’ll spend more time outdoors. When you do, my advice is to literally watch your step.

Probably most people who spend any amount of time hiking in Texas have been within arm’s reach of a diamondback and never knew it.

Andy Gluesenkamp is a herpetologist [and Director of Conservation at the San Antonio Zoo]. Don’t let what he just said about the big, scary venomous Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, which happens to be deadliest snake in North America, keep you locked up indoors.

Diamondbacks would by and large much prefer to avoid contact than get in some sort of fisticuffs with a large animal like a human.

These snakes play defense. They usually hang out in the vicinity of fallen logs, brush piles, and rocks. If they think you don’t see them, they’ll lie perfectly still and let you do a Dionne Warwick and walk on by.

If they feel threatened by you, the first thing that they’ll do is buzz that rattle. On rare occasions when somebody reaches their hands into a crevice, or is picking up firewood and grabs a snake or steps on a snake—then they’re going to react violently. And that’s when people tend to get bitten.

So, avoid doing what he said. You’ll be glad you did, or rather, didn’t. Find more information about snakes on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Website.

Support for Passport to Texas comes from the Wildlife Restoration program…working to restore native habitat in Texas.

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

Putting Texas Wildlife on the Map

Thursday, April 20th, 2017
Prairies and Pineywoods West map segment

Prairies and Pineywoods West map segment

This is Passport to Texas

Now you can drive on the wild side of our state’s prairies and forests using two newly updated Great Texas Wildlife Trail maps.

The updates of the Prairies and Pineywoods East and West maps mark the completion of the entire collection of wildlife trail maps, which feature more than 920 wildlife-viewing sites all across our great state.

There are nine wildlife trail maps in all, and each invites nature lovers like you to discover the best of Texas’ native wildlife no matter where you are in the state.

In addition to physical copies of the maps, interactive maps are available online to explore various regions.

Each regional map details several smaller trail loops for easy driving trips throughout Texas.

The maps list contact information, entry fees and operating hours for attractions along the trails.

To view all nine Great Texas Wildlife Trails maps or to purchase a printed map, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The new wildlife maps were made possible in part from the support of a number of sponsors, including the Wildlife Diversity Conservation License Plate Program.

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.

Stay Calm and Carry on — It’s Only a Black Bear

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Friendly neighborhood black bear.

Friendly neighborhood black bear.

This is Passport to Texas

Black bear are threatened in Texas. And what might their biggest threat be?

That really is people.

Nobody intentionally threatens them, of course. But Texas Parks and Wildlife Mammologist Jonah Evans says because the black bear population is sparse across the state, we don’t know how to behave…when our paths do cross.

What we can be doing is working to make Texas a friendly place for bears to live, by educating people how to live with bears, so that bears do not become a nuisance. And to teach people that bears are not the big, scary animals that they think they are. They are relatively safe compared to domestic dogs, for example.

One way bears become a nuisance is when they associate people with food, and get into “trouble.”

We did have that happen in 2011 when all those bears were here. We had a number of bears get in trouble. They got used to getting into trash cans. Once a bear learns that people equal food, it’s really hard to teach it otherwise. That particular bear, we relocated it, and it immediately got into trouble again, so we had to trap it. And it’s living out the rest of its days in the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.

Jonah Evans says Texas Parks and Wildlife’s goal is to ensure all wildlife lives a wild life. If you see a bear, contact your local Texas Parks and Wildlife office.

The Wildlife Restoration Program program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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

Why the Black Bear BOOM Went BUST

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
Black bears snacking on deer feed.

Black bears snacking on deer feed. Image: Larry Meyers.

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife lovers were optimistic with increased reports of black bears in West Texas in 2011 and 12. Mammologist, Jonah Evans, says the drought drew animals across the Mexican border; yet, once the rains fell, so did reports of bears.

Yes, it was a blip as the result of the drought—but that’s the way that dispersal happens. And that’s the way that bears recolonize: in pulses. So, they’ll pulse out into the landscape, try to find little places where they can survive.

Evans says bears that relocate take a risk, and many do not make it. He adds that bears follow the food. So I asked about the feasibility of creating bear-attracting habitat in West Texas.

They want big oak trees making lots of acorns, or pecan trees, or fruit trees, or things like that. And those are things that take many, many years or even decades to establish. With white-tailed deer, you can put in a food plot, and next the next year, you’re feeding deer. It’s not that simple with bears.

Then I asked about relocating black bears to suitable habitat—as we’ve done with eastern wild turkeys.

Given that Texas has so much private land and the bears travel so far, it’s a very tricky issue to release bears somewhere in Texas where they won’t have the possibility of becoming a nuisance on a neighbor’s property.

Jonah Evans says the agency works to support natural recolonization of black bears in Texas.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Black Bear research in Texas.

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

Black Bear Boom or Bust

Monday, March 20th, 2017
Black bear up a tree.

Black bear up a tree.

This is Passport to Texas

A few years back we spoke with Texas Parks and Wildlife mammologist, Jonah Evans, about increased sightings of black bear in West Texas.

A few years ago during the drought, we had a major boom in bears. What was happening is, when food resources were very low, they started dispersing, looking for other places to make a living. And, a lot of those bears came across—from those big mountain ranges in Mexico—into Texas.

Black bears have, in effect, been absent from West Texas for years. So this was good news…but it did not persist.

In the years since that big drought and that big dispersal period— 2011 and 2012—we really haven’t seen nearly as many bears. In fact, last year [2016] we only had one bear report in West Texas. Not counting Big Bend National park, where, of course, they have many reports every year.

The big bear boom went bust. But Jonah Evans says that’s typical of this natural system of checks and balances.

It’s a bit disappointing, but I think it’s also a little dose of realism, I guess—that this is probably the way that recolonization is going to happen. I haven’t given up on the bears.

Learn more about black bears on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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