Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

TPW TV – Bat Monitoring

Friday, December 30th, 2016
Bats emerging from Bracken Cave.

Bats emerging from Bracken Cave.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas is home to 33 of the world’s more than 13-hundred bat species. Bats devour tons of agricultural insect pests, pollinate crops and native plants, and bring tourists to Texas.

We have the largest congregations of bats in the entire world. People travel all over the world to see Bracken Bat Cave, Old Tunnel State Park, Congress Street Bridge. It’s a wildlife phenomenon

But Jonah Evans, Texas Parks and Wildlife mammologist, says Texas bats face a serious threat: White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease fatal to hibernating bats, discovered 10 years ago in the Northeast.

It’s right at our border. And during that time, it has killed an estimated 6-million bats. Which, in some states, amounts to a very high percentage of all the bats in their states.

Evans and other bat conservators discuss the problem of white nose syndrome next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

At this point, all we can do is monitor closely, learn what we can, and be prepared if an opportunity to apply some kind of treatment arises. There is currently no way to stop the spread of White Nose Syndrome. However, there are many smart people working really hard on trying to find ways of doing just that.

Watch this highly informative segment on Bat Monitoring in Texas on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS the week of January 1, 2017. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016
Deer suffering from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Deer suffering from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

This is Passport to Texas

The outlook for deer season is outstanding thanks to plentiful rainfall. White-tail program leader, Alan Cain.

The rainfall that’s been very prevalent across the state this year, has also provided great vegetation for the mule deer and the pronghorn out there in West Texas. Hunters that are out there pursuing mule deer and pronghorn will have an excellent year [too].

To maintain healthy herds, biologists want hunters to help monitor deer for Chronic Wasting Disease [CWD]—a neurological disease that kills deer, but has no known effect on humans.

Chronic wasting disease has been a concern in Texas since 2012—since the first discovery in the trans Pecos. We also had a new positive discovered in the Panhandle this past hunting season 2015.

Texas Parks and Wildlife created mandatory containment and surveillance zones for Chronic Wasting Disease testing and rules for transporting harvested deer in parts of west Texas.

Hunters in those Chronic Wasting Disease zones that harvest a deer, are required to bring those deer to the check stations so our staff can pull a CWD sample. We do have another CWD zone in portions of Medina, Uvalde and Bandera counties; and that is a voluntary surveillance zone. So, we would appreciate all the help we can get from our hunters out there to bring deer in so we can monitor for CWD.

Find more information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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

2016 Deer Season Forecast

Friday, December 2nd, 2016
White-tailed buck

White-tailed buck

This is Passport to Texas

Last year’s deer season was good; and this year’s season promises to be better.

The conditions have been incredible this year. We had a wet spring across the state—from El Paso to Houston and Amarillo to Brownsville.

White-tailed deer program leader, Alan Cain, says Texas Parks and Wildlife estimates the white-tail population…at about four-million animals. Yet, too many deer in one place can cause illness among them, including possible die off in the herd. Hunting helps to maintain a healthy balance.

We encourage hunters to take the full bag limit in those particular counties. And by doing so it helps improve the habitat. If they don’t want to put that meat in the freezer, they can certainly donate it to Hunters for the Hungry or different charitable organizations around the state.

With an excellent forecast for deer hunting this season, now is the time to get the next generation into the field.

And it’s a great opportunity to get kids outdoors; expose them to hunting. And recruit our future generation of wildlife managers into the state.

Download the Texas Outdoor Annual APP onto your smart phone. Before going on your hunt. It will help you find hunting season dates and bag limits for your county and a whole lot more. Find it on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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

TPW TV – Gobblers Go East

Friday, November 18th, 2016
Turkey release.

Eastern wild turkey release at Gus Engeling WMA 02-05-2014

This is Passport to Texas

A group of 31 eastern wild turkeys recently released in the Angelina National Forest may not be from Texas, but they got here as fast as they could. Wildlife biologist, Jason Hardin.

Any of these birds that come into Texas from out of state, we draw blood for disease testing. We’ve been really lucky—we’ve had really healthy birds coming in. In addition to that, the University of Georgia is doing DNA on all these birds.

Each bird got banded with its own ID number, and joined a four-decades-long restocking effort.

Turkeys were historically found throughout close to 30-million acres in east Texas. So, this is part of their historic range. Around the turn of the 20th Century, we lost birds due to over harvest—primarily—European settlers coming into Texas. There were no regulations to stop them from harvesting those animals. And no law enforcement out there to enforce the few regulations that we did have.

With the last batch of 31, Texas Parks and Wildlife has introduced about 80 birds to the site. Now they’ll monitor their habitat use to determine their preferences, and to ensure their future.

From what we can tell, the birds appear to be doing pretty well. We have some of our highest populations of turkeys in east Texas on that site. So, we know that it can be very successful.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS airs a segment called Gobblers Go East the week of November 20, where you can see the rest of the story. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Farming Practices Impact Pheasant Population

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
Ringneck Pheasant

Ringneck Pheasant

This is Passport to Texas

Pheasant can make a good living in the Panhandle.

If they can find an area where there’s good grain crops—like wheat, sorghum, corn—and playa lakes that will intersect with CRP [conservation reserve program] and the grain crops. That’s really good habitat. The CRP and the playa lakes provide plenty of cover, and the grain crops provide an ample food source for them. And then the irrigated crops, you know, that will provide a good water source for them, too.

Biologist Todd Montandon surveys pheasant in fall to develop harvest recommendations, noting their numbers and distribution.

The change in farming practices has affected where the distribution of the birds has been. Up in the northern panhandle you have more grain, sorghum, corn and wheat. And then as you move further south, it shifts over to cotton and wheat. And it’s not as conducive to pheasant populations as it is up north.

Changes in irrigation also play a role in the species’ survival.

Back in the 70s and 80s, most of the irrigating was done with irrigation ditches into the rows. And now, it’s switched over to the sprinkler system. And there’s not as much water on the ground as there used to be.

Despite these setbacks, Todd Montandon is optimistic about the upcoming hunting season. Details tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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