Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Next Time You See an Otter…

Friday, June 9th, 2017
River otter.

Have you seen me?

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist Gary Calkins could not have predicted eight years ago—when he invited radio listeners to send in their otter sightings—that it would change how we understand otter distribution in Texas, or that the sightings would continue coming in. He created a map using the data listeners supplied, and is confident it’s accurate.

Every sighting I get, I ask them [the public] I ask them to describe how the animal swam. Ask them if it made any vocalizations. Ask some questions about behavior—and better yet—can I get pictures or something. The only time I will count an animal to put it on this map, is if I am beyond a shadow doubt that it is an otter—based on vocalizations and the way it swam. I feel pretty comfortable that that map is representing otters and not mistaken identity. If it’s something that I can’t wrap my head around, that ‘yeah, it’s an otter,’ then I won’t put it on the map. I’ll tell the people to keep looking and thank you. One of the things that I’ve done is that out of all the emails that I’ve receive, I’ve made myself respond to every single one of them. So that people aren’t sending something to a black hole; and I think that’s why it’s kept momentum on sightings.

Gary Calkins welcomes your otter sightings. Find out how submit them at passporttotexas.org.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.
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NOTE: Since producing this program, Gary Calkins has retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife. If you have an otter sighting, send your information HERE, and I will make sure it gets the the right person.

Why, I Otter…

Thursday, June 8th, 2017
Texas River Otter

Texas River Otter

This is Passport to Texas

Eight years ago when wildlife biologist Gary Calkins was conducting statewide otter surveys, we talked about it on our radio show; he invited listeners to send in their sightings.

Really, when we started this thing, I sort of assumed that otters were pretty well just East Texas-centric, maybe in the Neches…Sabine River…Red River. That type of thing. But, man, the population that’s in the Colorado River is way more than I had expected and a lot farther up the Colorado River than I ever expected, and then a lot farther up the Red [River] than I ever expected. [There are] just a lot more in general than I really thought there were out there just based on the number of people reporting stuff.

Because of you, we know there’s greater distribution of otters throughout Texas than previously thought. These mammals are surprisingly common in urban areas, such as Austin in Travis County and Houston in Harris County.

Obviously, I think there are just more people out there are seeing them and reporting them. But those two counties—you’ve got Ladybird Lake, and all the different structures in the Colorado River. And then the thing with all the bayous that run through Houston, and so there’re a lot of otters using that because it has been a created, perfect habitat.

Gary Calkins welcomes all public otter sightings in Texas, ideally with photos. Find out how to get in touch at passporttotexas.org.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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

___________________________________________________________

NOTE: Since producing this program, Gary Calkins has retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife. If you have an otter sighting, send your information HERE, and I will make sure it gets the the right person.

TPW TV — CWD Response Team

Friday, June 2nd, 2017
CWD Deer

CWD Deer

This is Passport to Texas

The first case of Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas. Three years later…

2015 the sky fell out. They found a positive in a deer breeding facility.

CWD is a fatal, highly communicable neurological disease in deer. Ryan Shoeneberg is a wildlife program specialist, and part of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s CWD response team. The Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS features the team on this week’s show. Paul Crossley is a license and permit specialist on the team.

There is not treatment or cure. The only real management technique we have is containment.

This meant shutting down TWIMS—the Texas Wildlife Information Management Service—the central database used to manage deer breeding in Texas. It essentially halted the transfer of deer from breeding facilities, which affected people’s livelihoods.

Our job is to nip it at the bud. Find it like a cancer. Wall it off, and not let is spread out.

The team had the job of helping breeders get deer moving again.

We were essentially given a deadline that said, look, we’ve got to get deer breeders moving again. We’ve got to get commerce going again—by deer hunting season. I think it was 57 days.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife CWD Response TWIMS Reprogramming Team took action. Find out what they did this week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings. The Wildlife restoration program support our series.

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

Pronghorn Restoration Benefits Communities

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017
Working to restore pronghorn to the Trans Pecos.

Working to restore pronghorn to the Trans Pecos.

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist Shawn Gray finds pronghorns fascinating, and hopes you will, too.

The pronghorn is a unique mammal of North America; it’s the only one found in its family. It’s the fastest mammal in North America. It’s a big game species.

Gray is the pronghorn program leader and oversees the Pronghorn Restoration Project. Because it’s is a game species, hunting them should pick up as their population grows, thus benefiting local communities.

In 2008, we issued probably like 800 buck only hunting permits. And, shoot, in 2009 or 10, we were issuing less than 100. And there’s a lot to that. Not only is it the money that they get for trespass access for hunting, but the hunters come into the local communities and spend time and spend money. So, there’s a lot of those economic impacts as well with a much reduced pronghorn population out here.

The Trans-Pecos pronghorn population dipped below 3,000 in 2012, and Gray says through translocation, range management, and natural reproduction, they hope to see the number rise to 10,000.

Most of the local communities in the Trans-Pecos really miss the pronghorn. And they really want to see pronghorn back on the landscape at numbers that they are used to seeing.

With the continued success of the restoration project, they may get their wish.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation supports our series.

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

Restoring Pronghorn to its Range

Monday, May 29th, 2017
Pronghorn capture and release.

Pronghorn capture and release.

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist, Shawn Gray, stays busy most days in his role as Texas Parks and Wildlife pronghorn and mule deer program leader in the Trans Pecos.

I get to oversee the management and research for the two species for Texas parks and Wildlife.

This includes orchestrating the restoration of these species to their native range. Earlier this year, Texas Parks and Wildlife successfully relocated 109 pronghorn.

Our surplus populations are located in the Northwest and Northeast Panhandle. We take animals from healthy populations there to boost our local populations in the Trans Pecos that have in recent years seen historic decline.

Texas Parks and Wildlife worked with partners to redistribute the animals. After trapping them, each received a health checkup; some got radio collars for monitoring.

Translocation has been one of the management tools we’ve been able to do to help those populations rebound. There’s a whole suite of things that we do to improve populations. And, of course, we always need help from Mother Nature to make all those things work for us.

Drought was a leading factor in the pronghorn’s decline in the Trans Pecos; Shawn Gray is addressing it and other range issues to ensure the pronghorn’s future.

Through time and our management practices, the populations have been responding well.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation supports our series…and pronghorn restoration. Find out more at tpwf.org.

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