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

Good Timing & Skill = Successful Dove Season

Friday, August 11th, 2017
Taking aim at dove.

Taking aim at dove.

This is Passport to Texas

Beginning in September, dove hunters have 90 days to harvest this plentiful game bird.

We harvest over five million mourning doves annually – which is an amazing number if you think about it. We’re the number one dove harvest state in the nation.

Shaun Oldenburger, migratory shore and upland game bird program leader, says that’s just a small percentage of available birds.

We have a lot of biologists out there trapping birds right now. And we’re seeing a lot of hatch year young – juvenile birds in the population – so that means it will be a good opening season for folks getting out September first, or whenever their opening day is in their zone.

Dove hunting is “front end loaded” meaning most hunters that want to hunt… do so early in the season.

In some places, especially our north zone, pretty much by the first week in October, 90 percent of the harvest has already occurred for that zone for the season. Now, we do have a 90 day season, so it’s a long season. But, what we do is allow those other days to occur for other folks that may have an opportunity later on. We want to make those hunting seasons as flexible as possible for folks, because some people may enjoy going later when there’s not as many hunters out. So we allot a lot of flexibility for dove hunting.

Find bag limits and other hunting regulations on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

That’s our show, The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series, and funds Mourning Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest surveys in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Ephemeral Panhandle Wetlands

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017
Playa lakes attract waterfowl.

Playa lakes attract waterfowl.

This is Passport to Texas

Something that is ephemeral is random, and exists for a short time, such as the playa lakes in Texas’ High Plains.

On average, playas are only wet one out of every ten years. And as we go from one side of the panhandle to the other, from west to east, our rainfall totals increase. So, the likelihood of a playa being went increases as you go further east. On the western side of the panhandle, along the New Mexico border, it could be tens of years between wet spells for these playas.

Biologist Don Kahl says playas are the most direct link for rainfall to reach the Ogallala Aquifer. Yet, their importance goes further yet.

There’s numerous plant species that can be found [around playas] – upwards to 350 plant species. And up to a couple hundred different bird species can be found around playas. So, they’re very useful, especially in the high plains landscape.

Playa lakes are valuable to migrating waterfowl, too.

It’s a very productive area for waterfowl whenever we do have the rain. Our mid-winter surveys in 2017, which were conducted this past January, set an all-time high for our estimate of the number of ducks for the High Plains of Texas, at about 1.4 million ducks in the Panhandle. So, this past year was good evidence of just how productive it can be for waterfowl.

The Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program supports our series and funds wildlife surveys throughout Texas.

That’s our show for today… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Panhandle Playas and the Ogallala Aquifer

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017
Playas are the most direct route for water to reach the Ogallala Aquifer.

Playas are the most direct route for water to reach the Ogallala Aquifer.

This is Passport to Texas

A playa lake is a natural landscape feature of the vast, flat expanse of the Great Plains and Texas High Plains.

Really, what it is, is a low spot where rainwater collects.

More than a mere low spot, Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Don Kahl says Texas playas are ephemeral wetlands, and vital recharge points for the Ogallala Aquifer.

They’re really the most direct link between rainwater or rainfall to the Ogallala Aquifer below. The amount of water going into the aquifer is from 10 to 100 times greater in a playa basin as compared to surrounding soils or surrounding upland areas.

Kahl calls playas “self-contained watersheds”, each playa is the center collection point of runoff from surrounding uplands. Most playas only exist for a brief time after it rains. Clay soil lines the bottoms of these shallow basins permitting the rainwater and runoff to collect and slowly filter into the aquifer below.

In combination with a healthy playa, having a grass buffer around it helps to filter out sediments and some of the contaminants running off of neighboring fields. You also get a secondary cleaning with the clay layer in the basin, helping to filter out other contaminants and nitrates as the water passes down into the aquifer.

Recharge rates are slow, and it takes years for rainwater to pass from playas, through soil, and into the aquifer.

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

That’s our show for today… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW TV — The Bee Searcher

Friday, July 14th, 2017
Hardworking native bumblebee

Hardworking native bumblebee

This is Passport to Texas

Jessica Beckham is on a quest to catch some fuzzy flying

Today we are out here surveying bumblebees in a little roadside area of Denton County.

She’s been studying bumblebees at the University of North Texas while pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental science. Next week, the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS follows her efforts in a segment called The Bee Searcher.

Here in Texas, we have sweat bees, digger bees, leaf cutter bees, resin bees. About 700 to 800 species of bees that are native bees. Including nine species of bumblebees.

We know about honeybees and colony collapse disorder, but Jessica Beckham wants to know more about the plight of native bumblebees.

I’m studying native pollinators, bumblebees in particular, because native pollinators may serve as an insurance policy against these losses of honeybees.

Insect pollinators, including bumblebees are responsible for about 80 percent of the pollination of wild flowering plants and about 75 percent of our agricultural plants.

Bumblebees are great pollinators, because the bees deliberately collect pollen and they have a lot more hair than honeybees, and they move a lot of pollen from flower to flower.

View the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV segment The Bee Searcher next week on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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

Introducing Mule Deer to their New Home

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
Black Gap WMA

Black Gap WMA

This is Passport to Texas

Shawn Gray oversees the mule deer restoration program for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Over the past two years, with the help of partners, the program identified available surplus animals on public and private land and moved them to Black Gap Wildlife Management Area.

We have moved over two hundred female mule deer.

Gray says the program radio collars 30 to 40 percent of the animals before release.

Some captured deer had a “soft release” which involved keeping them in a fenced area for a couple of weeks allowing them to acclimate to their surroundings. Then, when freed…

They don’t go as far; they tend to stay where you released them.

Other deer had a “hard release”. They were let out of the trailers and allowed to immediately run free.

We have seen one or two of our [radio collared] translocated animals go back to where they were captured. Those were the ones that were hard released. The animals that we have soft released, we have not observed them going back to their home. We’ve observed them doing a lot of exploratory type movements. Figuring out their new home. But for the most part, those animals are staying in and around Black Gap Wildlife management Area.

Which makes all the hard work, planning and coordination worth it.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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