Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

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. www.sbc.edu


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 passporttotexas.org.

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.

Wildlife: White Nose Syndrome on the Move

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Bats in a cave.

Bats in a cave. Photo © Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org



This is Passport to Texas

First discovered in 2006 / 2007 in upstate New York, white nose syndrome—a fungus that afflicts cave-hibernating bats—has killed an estimated 6 million animals thus far.

09—Texas is home to 32 species of bats; 18 of which are known to roost in some way, and many of those hibernate.

Texas Parks and Wildlife mammalogist, Jonah Evans says Texas bats are currently disease free, but not home free. Take migratory Mexican freetail bats, for example.

32— There is concern that they could act as a vector for the disease. So, if they get exposed to it – maybe they’re carrying it – and then they migrate down into Central and South America, and they expose a lot of other migratory bats that could then bring the disease into the western portion of the United States. So, it’s a lot of speculation, but there’s some concern that Texas could be a gateway from the eastern part of the US to the western if it gets into the migratory bats and then they expose a lot of the hibernating bats in the west.

Something that’s not speculation is how humans spread the disease from cave to cave, and how they can protect against it. That’s tomorrow.

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.

Wildlife: White Nose Syndrome Update

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Checking caves for White Nose Syndrome

Checking caves for White Nose Syndrome, Photo © Mylea Bayless, Bat Conservation International, www.batcon.org



This is Passport to Texas

North America’s bats are dying off at an alarming rate.

06—The current estimate is more than 5.7 million bats have been killed by white nose syndrome.
Texas Parks and Wildlife mammalogist, Jonah Evans, says it’s been spreading south and west.

12— The closest [to Texas] it’s been confirmed is in Mississippi. And it does continue to be found further and further west – closer to Texas. So, we’re very concerned that it could get here.

Researchers thought they’d discovered the fungus in an Oklahoma bat colony in 2010; additional testing proved the sample similar, yet unrelated and non-lethal.

05—That is a huge relief, because that was next door, and we were just terrified that it was coming.

White Nose Syndrome, which forms a fungal mat over the faces of hibernating bats, thrives in cooler climates. This makes Texas officials hopeful state bat colonies will remain unaffected; nevertheless, they will remain vigilant.

11—The place that we’ve identified as most likely to be susceptible to white nose syndrome is up in the Panhandle, where there’s a fair
number of hibernating bats, and it gets cold.

How the white nose fungus moves from one area to another, and what we can do to slow its progress. That’s tomorrow.

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.

Wildlife: Benefits of Scorpions

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Scorpion in Texas

Scorpion in Texas



This is Passport to Texas

Texas boasts a fair number of scorpion species.

06— There are about 18 species in Texas. Depending on where you’re at – you may have more or less.

Ben Hutchins is an invertebrate biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

10— In all of Texas, we don’t have scorpions that are considered life threatening. As with any animal that has venom, there’s always the possibility of an allergic reaction.

Hutchins says in healthy non-allergic people a scorpion sting will cause discomfort, but not for long. You might want to cut scorpions some slack – they’re beneficial in a couple of ways.

23— Scorpions are predators, and so they feed on a variety of potential pest organisms. Some scorpions also feed on other scorpions, so they do have an important role in the environment potentially controlling pest populations…insects…spiders…other arachnids. There’s also potential medical utility for scorpions as well – using venom to treat medical conditions.

Researchers are studying scorpion venom’s qualities as a pain killer. So, if a scorpion wanders into your home some summer evening while foraging, don’t kill it.

12— There’s really no cause for alarm. What I usually do is use a cup [and place it over the scorpion and use a] piece of paper that you kind of slide under there to pick up the scorpion. And then you can just remove it and put it in an area where it can do its business.

Learn more about scorpions in the June issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. 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.