Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Outdoor Story: Otter Hissy Fit

Friday, November 10th, 2017
Texas River Otter

Texas River Otter

This is passport to Texas Outdoor Stories

Leslie McGaha wanted to try out her new bass kayak on Sam Rayburn Lake. Shortly after she got on the water, she had company–an otter!

So it was about 9:30 in the morning and I paddled across a branch of the lake, and I was hot. And so I saw a shady spot and figured I would go ahead and park there and see what I could see. And it was amazing: I saw a giant black crawdad crawling out of the bank; I was listening to the fish noises and the birds; the gar. Then, all of a sudden there was this bright flash of silver off to my right and I thought it was a gar or a carp. I keep watching, and then I see this head pop up out of the lily pads and look straight at me. And it wasn’t very happy that I was there, and he let me know. He made this sound like [makes hissing sound] And I didn’t know what it was. And he went back down after he told me his displeasure and then he comes back up and he makes this noise at me again [makes noise]. So, I decided I wanted to play the game, too, and I hissed right back at him [hisses]. And then he stopped for a second and looks straight at me and he and he starts hissing, kind of like he’s yelling at me. So I hissed back. So we have a pretty good conversation for a few minutes, and he pops down again, pops back up, and we start the whole thing over again two or three times before he goes on his merry way a little bit farther up the creek channel. It was just the funniest thing that had ever happened to me; it was amazing.

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

Chronic Wasting Disease Monitoring and Reporting

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017
Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease

Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease

This is Passport to Texas

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a neurological illness not known to affect humans…but is eventually fatal to infected deer.

Chronic wasting disease has been a concern in Texas since 2012 since the first discovery in the Trans Pecos.

Alan Cain is whitetail program leader at Texas Parks and Wildlife. Texas has three designated CWD zones:

West Texas, and one in the Panhandle, and one in South Central Texas. In each of those zones, it is mandatory sampling of hunter harvested deer, and also mandatory carcass movement restrictions. So, hunters are encouraged to go on our Parks and Wildlife website, and check out the CWD page, where they can find more information.

Although the agency requires hunters’ cooperation when monitoring CWD in the three zones—that shouldn’t stop anyone from getting into the field.

Sufficient rains and healthy habitat also boosted the mule deer populations in West Texas.

We’ve had some good rainfall out there in West Texas, and we expect hunters to have a good season out there, probably average, just as we’d expect for the whitetail deer hunting.

Whitetail season runs through January 7th in the North Zone and January 21 in the South Zone. Mule Deer season begins November 18 in the Panhandle, and November 24 in the Trans-Pecos.

Find CWD monitoring information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

2017-18 Deer Season Outlook

Monday, November 6th, 2017
White-tailed buck.

White-tailed buck.

This is Passport to Texas

According to Alan Cain, Whitetail Program Leader at Texas Parks and Wildlife, the 2017 deer season is shaping up to be a good one.

We started off the winter and early spring with good habitat conditions, which sets the stage for good antler growth and good body condition and fawn production.

Late spring and early summer, Mother Nature was stingy with rainfall across the state, which Cain says, may mean only average antler growth.

But the deer population is very healthy. We have a robust deer population in Texas.

A robust deer population is good news for some rural Texas towns.

Deer hunting in Texas is a thriving industry and it really helps the rural towns out there where deer hunting is a big part of their everyday life.

Cain says in counties where deer populations are high, he encourages hunters to take the full bag limit.

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.

Whitetail season began November fourth in the north and south zones. The Texas Outdoor Annual provides hunters with necessary rules, regulations and bag limits. 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.

Whooper Week: Become a Whooper Watcher

Friday, October 20th, 2017
Whooping crane in flight.

Whooping crane in flight.

This is Passport to Texas’ Whooper Week

People of all ages can become citizen scientists through Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Texas Nature Trackers program.

Texas Nature Trackers is a program that gets citizens involved in helping us collect data on rare species.

Marsha May is a biologist in the program, which includes Texas Whooper Watch. When Whooper Watch started in 2011, the state was in drought; this affected wetlands at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where the whoopers winter.

Their main diet down there is the blue crab. But, that particular year [2011], there was not a lot of freshwater coming down to the coast, so the wetlands were really salty. So, a lot of the birds went further inland.

Two hundred miles farther inland at Granger Lake, where they ate mussels instead of their usual diet of crabs.

That’s where Texas Whooper Watch comes in. We want to get sightings of whoopers outside of their normal range at Aransas. Is this something that’s going to happen continually in the future? Are they expanding their range? These are questions we would really would like to see answered. Citizen scientists can get involved by documenting birds in the areas where they’re not normally found.

Find details on Texas Whooper Watch on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Whooper Week: Help Track Whooping Cranes

Thursday, October 19th, 2017
A whooping crane in quiet contemplation.

A whooping crane in quiet contemplation.

This is Passport to Texas…Whooper Week.

October brings mild temperatures and Whooping Cranes to Texas.

Mid-October is when they start coming back to Texas. So, it’s a great time to start looking for them.

Marsha May is a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

They basically come through the central portion of the state. So, it’s that route between Canada and Aransas National Wildlife refuge.

Marsha oversees several Texas Nature Tracker projects, including Texas Whooper Watch.

Texas Whooper Watch started 2011, about the time we had that drought. Because we were seeing whooping cranes going to new locations that we had never seen before. They were showing up at Granger Lake; two or three hundred miles north of their natural wintering habitat.

If you catch sight of a whooper, join the growing ranks of citizen scientists: document your sighting with the iNaturalist app.

Citizen scientists with Texas Nature Trackers collect data using iNaturalist. You can use your smart phone to take pictures of things and that data comes back into iNaturalist; and that’s data that we can use for many different things.

More on Texas Nature Trackers and Whooper Watch tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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