Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Coastal Fisheries Gets Social (Media)

Friday, June 24th, 2016
Crab clutching TPWD Coastal Fisheries hat. Photo by Braden Gross.

Crab clutching TPWD Coastal Fisheries hat. Photo by Braden Gross.

This is Passport to Texas

Social media has improved Texas Parks and Wildlife’s ability to communicate with the public.

I think Social Media is just a great way to network and connect with people.

Julie Hagen is the social media specialist for the Coastal Fisheries Division.

Right now we just have a Facebook page, and we also use the Texas Parks and Wildlife main [social media] pages to also get out some pictures and different videos that we’re doing. But, our Coastal Fisheries Facebook page is a great place for people to come and ask questions; we answer all your questions. Or, just [come by] to see what other people are doing. Tell a story. Like a picture. Send us your own pictures. If you catch a nice fish and you want to show it off, send it to us—we’ll post it on the page.

Visitors to the Coastal Fisheries Facebook page enjoy behind-the-scenes photos of researchers in action.

It’s fun to see what they do. They have very different jobs; they get to go out on the water every single day—collect data. And it’s really interesting to see a different side of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Julie Hagen encourages community among Facebook fans.

I want to create a community on Facebook where people can go and respond to other people’s comments. If they ask a question and an angler knows—‘Oh, where’s the best fishing spot in Rockport?”—well, I’d love someone in the Facebook community to come along and say: “Hey, I’m from Rockport. This is where I love to fish.’ Those interactions are my favorite because sure we can give you some ideas, but there’s so much knowledge people have on their own, and having a space for them to come and share that with other people is really important to us as well.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program support our series.

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

The Challenges of Dove Surveys

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

This is Passport to Texas

Field surveys are necessary when creating management strategies for game species. Some species are easier to survey than others.

Our dove surveys, for instance, have to be done under some pretty finite weather conditions.

Heidi Baily is a wildlife biologist in east Texas. Weather can put a damper on successful completion of surveys.

The winds can’t be blowing all that much. We don’t want to survey right before or after a rain, because it can affect the amount of birds that we see. So, sometimes it makes it tough to actually get them done.

But they do get done…along a 20 mile route.

We’ll get out there to the beginning of our survey line, about a half an hour before sunup. We’ve got a 20 mile route that we run—exactly the same way every year. As a matter of fact, some of the routes have been around for a couple of decades. At the start, we’ll get out of the truck, and we’ll sit, look and listen for three minutes, and we’ll record what we see or hear. Then we’ll drive a mile and we’ll do the same thing. And that process is repeated over the 20-mile route.

Although when we talked, the dove survey was a couple of weeks away, Heidi Baily said she wouldn’t be surprised if this spring’s violent weather impacts dove populations.

Doves build a really flimsy nest, so if you get a good hard wind, or some of these huge hail storms that we’ve been having, even though doves will re-nest—we might have low reproduction this year.

We’ll know more after biologists collect and analyze survey data.

The Wildlife Restoration Program support our series.

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

Wildlife Surveys Support Species Management

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
South Llano River

South Llano River

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologists use data from field surveys to manage the state’s game and non-game wildlife populations.

One thing that’s important to remember is that we’re never going to count every single animal.

Biologist, Heidi Baily, says the public sometimes confuses “survey” with “census”. The latter implies a tally of all individual animals in a population. Instead, biologists look for trends.

We like to put it in context of the years behind us and look at it in relation to that. And determine what the trend is doing: are we on a steady incline; is the population decreasing; is the sex ratio improving? Things like that.

As the majority of the state is in private hands, landowners are encouraged to conduct wildlife surveys on their property.

We can actually go out there and teach them how to do surveys on their own property. Usually, when we go out, we have a look at their habitat, and we’ll visit with them about the things that they’re concerned about, and what they want to manage for. And then we can actually teach them ways to go ahead and monitor their own populations. They’ll forward the results of those surveys to us for any kind of habitat or population management recommendations.

Learn more about wildlife surveys on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program support our series.

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

Surveying Wildlife

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
Wildlife biologist in the field.

Wildlife biologist in the field.

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologists collect data on game and non-game species using field surveys. One survey method does not fit all species.

For instance, deer surveys. We go out at night in the truck and spotlight for them. In that case we are looking for the animals themselves. There are other surveys that we do; for instance, otter surveys. In that case, it’s very rare to actually see an otter, and so we’re actually out there just looking for tracks and signs of otter.

Biologist, Heidi Bailey says they use the data to understand a species’ status and struggles; this includes threatened and endangered animals.

We want to determine if the populations are holding steady, or if we’re lucky, increasing, or if they’re on a decline we definitely want to know that as well.

Survey data on game species allow biologists to make recommendations regarding best management practices.

In some cases, it will help us to know if we need to change the bag limits. If we’ve got an over population of deer in a particular county and the density’s way too high for a healthy habitat, we may go ahead and increase the bag limit, or change season dates—we may lengthen the season or shorten the season. So, we’ve got a whole bunch of tools that we can actually manipulate the populations with based on the survey data.

More about wildlife surveys tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration Program support our series.

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

Giant Reed is a Giant Problem in Texas

Monday, May 16th, 2016
Arundo donax, also called Giant Reed.

Arundo donax, also called Giant Reed.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas has its share of invasive plants and animals, including Arundo Donax, or giant reed; you’ve probably seen it along roadways and river banks.

13— If you see it on roadsides, it’s very tall—grows up to about 30 feet. Has segments, really broad, pointed leaves—huge showy plumes. It can actually be quite pretty. And it looks somewhat like corn.

Giant reed is a non-native grass. Monica McGarrity who studies aquatic invasive for Texas Parks and Wildlife, says its greatest impact occurs when it gets into areas along rivers and creeks.

18—They have these impacts because they’re able to outcompete the native plants and push them aside, displace them. And when we’re talking especially about riverside, riparian areas, along our creeks – diversity of native plants is really important to the wildlife, and for maintaining the overall health of the community.

When giant reed displaces native plant communities, the result is reduced habitat quality.

17— It reduces quality for birds and other wildlife. And then it can start to— over time – have impacts on the stream itself, and reduce the habitat that’s available to the aquatic community, and make it more homogenous, more the same throughout. Rather than having diverse pools and riffles and habitats that they need.

Monica McGarrity returns tomorrow to tell us how not to try and remove this plant from our property.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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