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

Monarch Malaise

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
Monarch on milkweed.

Monarch on milkweed.

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat loss along its migration route may be one reason the Monarch butterfly is in decline. While feeding on nectar, Monarchs pollinate wildflowers along their route, which benefits our ecosystem.

There are two primary ways that habitat supports pollinators.

Johnnie Smith oversees outreach and education at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

And one is, the adult pollinators oftentimes feed on nectar of flowers. So, flowering plants that are a food source for the pollinator is very important. But also, is the food source that the pollinator’s larvae rely on as they’re growing up and becoming an adult. And so, that is just as important as the flowering plants that support the adults.

For Monarchs, native milkweed is an important plant. By cultivating them in our yards, along with other nectar and larval plants, we can all play a part in their survival.

There is no effort that is too small to be counted worthy. And there’s no spot of land that is too small to contain pollinator habitat. So, we really want to empower everybody—tht they can make a difference. Right where you stand. Right where you live—you can crate pollinator habitat, and help turn around this negative trend with the monarchs.

Find native and adapted plants for pollinators on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Interacting With Wildlife

Monday, November 13th, 2017
TPWD staff photographer, Earl Nottingham, helps feed fawns

TPWD staff photographer, Earl Nottingham, helps feed orphan fawns

This is Passport to Texas

There’s only one way to see wildlife in its natural state.

You have to spend time where the animals are.

That means outside. Richard Heilbrun, a wildlife biologist with the wildlife diversity program, says cooler fall temperatures makes extended time outdoors more pleasant and improves your chance of seeing wild things.

And with a little bit of patience; a little bit of perseverance—and maybe some education—we can really enjoy, enjoying the wildlife.

Whether you check out the critters in your backyard, neighborhood, or spend the day at a Texas state park, Richard says, there are ways to enhance the experience.

The best thing to take with you when you go out into wildlife habitat is something to enjoy wildlife with—whether it’s a digital camera, a pair of binoculars, or a field guide.

A sketch pad is also fun, and slows you down even more, so you can truly savor your wildlife viewing experience. The one thing you want to avoid, however, is direct contact with the animals.

The best way to enjoy wildlife is to enjoy it from a little bit of a distance. And that camera and binoculars really help you get close without actually needing to pick up that animal. Because, unless you know what you’re handling, it’s really a better idea just to observe them, draw them, photograph them, and watch them.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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.

Christmas Bird Count: From Killing to Counting

Friday, October 27th, 2017
Christmas Bird Count -- the early years.

Christmas Bird Count — the early years.

This is Passport to Texas

No 19th Century American hunting family’s Christmas was complete without taking to forests and fields to binge kill birds and other woodland creatures, called the Christmas Side Hunt.

You competed against neighbors [to see] who had the biggest pile of birds.

Nongame ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says no feathered animal was off limits in this competition of carnage.

We’re not talking about things you eat. We’re talking about all birds. Even predators like owls and hawks. Songbirds. Just wasted.

It was the early days of conservation then, and scientists and bird lovers, alike, expressed their concern.

The bird people said: ‘This is not sustainable. Let’s try something different. Let’s get people out with binoculars, and count birds, and maybe compare numbers on a datasheet, instead of piles of dead birds.

Frank Chapman, an early ornithologist and officer of a new organization called the Audubon Society, proposed The Christmas Bird Census for a new century.

So that’s how the Christmas Bird Count came about 118 years ago.

There were 25 Christmas Bird Counts the first year, with 90 species tallied on all counts combined. It continues even now, and we tell you how to get involved next week.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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