Archive for the 'Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program' Category

Paddle-in Campsites on Devils River

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017
The Devils River

The Devils River

This is Passport to Texas

The 37-thousand acre Devils River State Natural Area is primitive and isolated. Visitors to the site should be prepared for a rugged wilderness experience.

The waterway, for which it’s named, is one of the state’s most ecologically intact rivers. Paddling Devils River ranks high on many people’s bucket lists.

While limited access is available for paddlers through the Devils River Access Permit system, paddling this river is not for the faint of heart. Due to its remote location, safe, reliable, and legal camp sites on the river are in short supply.

To help create safe conditions for the recreational use of the Devils River and minimize trespassing issues, the Texas Parks and Wildlife River Access and Conservation Area Program opened two paddle-up-only camp sites last month.

By adding the two new campsites, permitted paddlers can explore the river safely and maintain the high standards of river stewardship that will preserve its uniqueness.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is partnering with the Devils River Conservancy to collaborate on educational materials that will be distributed among local guides and vendors to prepare paddlers for overnight trips on the Devils River.

These camp sites are the newest additions to Texas Parks and Wildlife’s statewide network of 19 River Access and Conservation Areas, offering improved angler and paddler access to more than 100 miles of Texas rivers.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Stay Calm and Carry on — It’s Only a Black Bear

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Friendly neighborhood black bear.

Friendly neighborhood black bear.

This is Passport to Texas

Black bear are threatened in Texas. And what might their biggest threat be?

That really is people.

Nobody intentionally threatens them, of course. But Texas Parks and Wildlife Mammologist Jonah Evans says because the black bear population is sparse across the state, we don’t know how to behave…when our paths do cross.

What we can be doing is working to make Texas a friendly place for bears to live, by educating people how to live with bears, so that bears do not become a nuisance. And to teach people that bears are not the big, scary animals that they think they are. They are relatively safe compared to domestic dogs, for example.

One way bears become a nuisance is when they associate people with food, and get into “trouble.”

We did have that happen in 2011 when all those bears were here. We had a number of bears get in trouble. They got used to getting into trash cans. Once a bear learns that people equal food, it’s really hard to teach it otherwise. That particular bear, we relocated it, and it immediately got into trouble again, so we had to trap it. And it’s living out the rest of its days in the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.

Jonah Evans says Texas Parks and Wildlife’s goal is to ensure all wildlife lives a wild life. If you see a bear, contact your local Texas Parks and Wildlife office.

The Wildlife Restoration Program program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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

Why the Black Bear BOOM Went BUST

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
Black bears snacking on deer feed.

Black bears snacking on deer feed. Image: Larry Meyers.

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife lovers were optimistic with increased reports of black bears in West Texas in 2011 and 12. Mammologist, Jonah Evans, says the drought drew animals across the Mexican border; yet, once the rains fell, so did reports of bears.

Yes, it was a blip as the result of the drought—but that’s the way that dispersal happens. And that’s the way that bears recolonize: in pulses. So, they’ll pulse out into the landscape, try to find little places where they can survive.

Evans says bears that relocate take a risk, and many do not make it. He adds that bears follow the food. So I asked about the feasibility of creating bear-attracting habitat in West Texas.

They want big oak trees making lots of acorns, or pecan trees, or fruit trees, or things like that. And those are things that take many, many years or even decades to establish. With white-tailed deer, you can put in a food plot, and next the next year, you’re feeding deer. It’s not that simple with bears.

Then I asked about relocating black bears to suitable habitat—as we’ve done with eastern wild turkeys.

Given that Texas has so much private land and the bears travel so far, it’s a very tricky issue to release bears somewhere in Texas where they won’t have the possibility of becoming a nuisance on a neighbor’s property.

Jonah Evans says the agency works to support natural recolonization of black bears in Texas.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Black Bear research in Texas.

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

Black Bear Boom or Bust

Monday, March 20th, 2017
Black bear up a tree.

Black bear up a tree.

This is Passport to Texas

A few years back we spoke with Texas Parks and Wildlife mammologist, Jonah Evans, about increased sightings of black bear in West Texas.

A few years ago during the drought, we had a major boom in bears. What was happening is, when food resources were very low, they started dispersing, looking for other places to make a living. And, a lot of those bears came across—from those big mountain ranges in Mexico—into Texas.

Black bears have, in effect, been absent from West Texas for years. So this was good news…but it did not persist.

In the years since that big drought and that big dispersal period— 2011 and 2012—we really haven’t seen nearly as many bears. In fact, last year [2016] we only had one bear report in West Texas. Not counting Big Bend National park, where, of course, they have many reports every year.

The big bear boom went bust. But Jonah Evans says that’s typical of this natural system of checks and balances.

It’s a bit disappointing, but I think it’s also a little dose of realism, I guess—that this is probably the way that recolonization is going to happen. I haven’t given up on the bears.

Learn more about black bears on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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

Benefit of Bats to Agriculture

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
A Hygieostatic Bat Roost located off Farm to Market Road 473 east of Comfort, Texas, United States was built in 1918. The roost was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1981 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 28, 1983.

A Hygieostatic Bat Roost located off Farm to Market Road 473 east of Comfort, Texas, United States was built in 1918. The roost was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1981 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 28, 1983.

This is Passport to Texas

Farmers know how costly it can be to spray crops with insecticides to prevent pest damage. What some may not know is…bats can be partners in pest eradication.

The Mexican free tail bat, in particular, is really valuable for agricultural purposes.

Meg Goodman is a former Parks and Wildlife’s bat biologist.

Current research has shows that these bats can save farmers up to two sprays of pesticides per year because of all the insect pests that they’re eating, like the corn earworm moth and the cotton boll worm moth, among other crop pest species.

In the early 20th century, San Antonio physician Charles A. Campbell designed and tested artificial roosts to attract bats to eat mosquitoes blamed for the spread of malaria. Eventually Campbell developed a bat tower, which he installed at Mitchell Lake, south of the city, which attracted hundreds of thousands of the flying mammals. The spectacle of the bats’ nightly emergence drew spectators in the 1920s…as it does today, wherever bats roost.

Their numbers and nightly emergences bring in a lot of tourist dollars to a lot of smaller communities—and big communities like Austin… It’s one of our top tourist destinations. But they do provide a lot of tourist dollars through nature tourism through a lot of our smaller communities throughout the state.

Learn how to attract bats at passporttotexas.org. That’s our show…we receive support from the Wildlife Restoration program.

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