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

Texas Vultures

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

This is Passport to Texas

Some people call them buzzards, but Cliff Shackelford says the correct ornithological name for the large black birds that dine on road kill is: vulture.

We have the turkey vulture and the black vulture.

Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

And the best way to tell them apart when they’re perched and sitting on that dead deer carcass on the roadside, is: look at the color of the head on the adults. The black vulture has a gray head and the turkey vulture, a red head.

Vultures circle high above the land in search of a meal.

The turkey vulture uses the sense of smell, and they’ll smell their prey. The black vulture, though, uses sight, they’ll look for prey, but they’ll also cheat. They’ll also look for where the turkey vultures are circling—[and decide] I’m going to bump in line. And with their numbers, usually the black vulture can overcome the turkey vulture and get the first little bites.

More fun facts: vultures poop on their legs to cool off, and when threatened, they vomit.

This is a defensive mechanism. They don’t have fangs like a rattlesnake; they don’t have claws like a bobcat. So, their best defense is to throw up what’s in their stomach that was lying on the road for the last three days. And guess what? You’re going to turn away; it’s a great defense.

Find out about all kinds of birds and birding 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 – Steve Nelle: Biologist or Psychologist?

Friday, June 16th, 2017
Steve Nelle speaking to a group of landowners.

Steve Nelle speaking to a group of landowners.

This is Passport to Texas

Author and Hill Country Land Trust member Jill Nokes holds Steve Nelle in high regard.

He has this knack for connecting with people wherever they are.

Nelle, a natural resource specialist is part biologist and part psychologist.

Even though we’re trained in the technical skills of plants and animals and soil and conservation, when we go onto farms and ranches, we’re really more in the people business.

This is especially true when evaluating damage following natural disasters. The Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series on PBS features a segment where Steve Nelle visits landowners, like Bill Johnson, affected by the Blanco Floods.

 [Bill Johnson] There was just devastation. The riparian area was stripped of all vegetation. With two big floods in one year, you get pretty down and you sort of feel hopeless almost. But he reminds you that nature is very resilient and it will recover.

[Steve Nelle] I’ll walk with the landowner across an area that’s been devastated and find a few good things. And you can show them how nature’s trying to recover and heal this area back up.

Catch the segment about Steve Nelle next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series….funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motorboat fuels.

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.

ShareLunker Genetics — All in the Family

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

ShareLunker #410 | 14.48 pound| length 25.25 inches | girth 21.75 inches | Caught by Edward Reid of Crosby, TX, March 22, 2006 in Conroe   ShareLunker #566 | 13.07 pounds | length 25.6 inches |girth 21.6 inches | Caught by Ryder Wicker of Fort Worth, TX,  February 10, 2017 in Marine Creek in Ft. Worth | Lake record

[Left] Mother ShareLunker #410 | 14.48 pound| length 25.25 inches | girth 21.75 inches | Caught by Edward Reid of Crosby, TX, March 22, 2006 in Conroe [Right]  Daughter ShareLunker #566 | 13.07 pounds | length 25.6 inches |girth 21.6 inches | Caught by Ryder Wicker of Fort Worth, TX, February 10, 2017 in Marine Creek in Ft. Worth | Lake record

This is Passport to Texas

Anglers dream of reeling in largemouth bass that tip the scales at 13 or more pounds. Called “ShareLunkers” Texas Parks and Wildlife encourages folks who catch these big fish to donate them to Toyota Texas Sharelunker selective breeding program.

Since the inception of the program—we just finished our 30th year—we’ve stocked over a million fingerlings of those sharelunker offspring back into the reservoirs of Texas.

Stocking lunker offspring into reservoirs increases an angler’s chance of hooking trophy bass. Kyle Brookshear coordinates the ShareLunker program for the agency, and says biologists can trace lunker lineage.

We’re able to take a small tissue sample from each sharelunker that’s caught. We can analyze that and determine who its parents are, or who its brothers and sisters are.

This year, for the first time, anglers caught “direct offspring” of previous lunkers. Although it’s taken a long time to do, it proves: from big fish, come big fish.

These ShareLunker’s are about 10 to 12 years old on average [and over 13 pounds]. It’s exciting to start to see results come in—and we should start to see more and more.

Anglers donated the “direct offspring” back to the program where they’ll become part of hatchery brood stock statewide, resulting in an increase of lunker-spawned fingerlings stocked in reservoirs.

So long term what that means is, we’ll go from stocking over a million fingerlings in the past 30 seasons of the program to stocking 6 to 8 million annually.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series.

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