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

Middle of Nowhere and Everywhere

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Grand Prairie Paddling Trail

Photo: City of Grand Prairie Parks and Recreation Department

This is Passport to Texas

Photo-journalist Camille Wheeler discovered five urban jungles teaming with wildlife when she kayaked along their paddling trails.

I had this romantic notion that I was going to do all five of these trails by myself. I actually did do two of them by myself. [But] I actually wound up having the best time on the three trails that I did with groups.

She kayaked and in Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Houston, San Antonio and Pasadena…and wrote about it for the March issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

I felt like an explorer even in the middle of a group. I went out with the assurance that these paddling trails had been mapped and surveyed by a Texas Parks and Wildlife team. But, there was this sense of adventure traveling these waterways that were new to me.

Camille saw birds, fish, insects, and even alligators—all in the middle of densely populated urban areas. She says urban paddling trails offer close-in outdoor opportunities.

People like me can get our feet wet here in these urban areas, on these trails that are very safe and easy. And now that I have had a little bit of experience, and some very good guidance—my heart is beating fast at the thought of going back to these same trails that I’ve already traveled, and then going out a little bit farther and a little bit more into the country. And rekindling this love affair with water that is new for a middle-aged woman.

You’re never too old to experience something new. Read Camille Wheeler’s article, Gently Down the Stream, in the March issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series.

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

First Time Adult Hunters

Monday, February 27th, 2017
A white-tailed buck.

A white-tailed buck.

This is Passport to Texas

It’s a bit of a phenomenon. Adults without previous exposure to hunting are expressing interest in learning the skills necessary to harvest big game. Texas Parks and Wildlife responded by developing a mentored deer hunt for adult novices, and offered its first workshop in December. Coordinator, Chris Hall.

The interest was overwhelming. We had it set up to ensure that we gave a quality program and had ample one-on-one time with hunters to address each individual’s needs. And I believe we were successful in what they were trying to get and achieve and where they were with their level of hunting and shooting.

Brad Sheffield, and engineer from Grapevine, took part in the three day program. Day one involved classroom and shooting range work; days 2 & 3 were devoted to putting new knowledge and skills to work.

We went out this morning to go hunting, and I passed on a button buck. And so I decided to see if there was more coming out—and there wasn’t. That was my only chance to shoot him.

Brad had success that afternoon. After waiting two and half hours in the blind, a group of deer came into view.

I was waiting for the doe to get in the right position because she turned around to go the other way, was behind the feeder, and then she finally got in a good spot. And I took my shot and dropped her—just like that.  [Cecilia] And do you think you’ll be doing more deer hunting. Absolutely. I’ll be taking my kids deer hunting as well.

More adult novice mentored hunts are being developed.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Assisted Living: Attwater’s Prairie Chickens

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
Baby Attwater's Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

Baby Attwater’s Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

This is Passport to Texas

We all need help sometimes. And in the case of the endangered Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, they’re getting it in the form of captive breeding programs, including one at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose.

Adding birds from the captive breeding program has allowed us to keep birds in the wild. Without the captive breeding program this species, undoubtedly, would have been extinct by now.

Biologists estimate there are fewer than 100 Attwater’s Prairie Chickens in existence today. Mike Morrow is a wildlife biologist at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake. The juvenile prairie chickens at Fossil rim are color banded and radio collared in preparation for release onto the refuge.

How many other species can we watch go extinct, before it starts making a difference the ability of the world to support us as a human species.

Juvenile birds take a long ride to the refuge and are kept in an outdoor enclosure until they’ve acclimated to their new habitat. After two weeks in their pen, they’re released onto the refuge.

Biologist Morrow says he knows not all the birds they release will survive, but those that do, represent the future. He says Texas Parks and Wildlife and partners will continue to build the population with wild birds. And that’s where he says we place the hope for the recovery of the species.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Most Endangered Bird in North America

Monday, February 20th, 2017
Attwater's Prairie Chicken

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

This is Passport to Texas

The most endangered bird in North America is a chicken. No, it’s not your ordinary farmyard fowl. It’s the extraordinary Attwater’s Prairie Chicken—a species unique to Texas coastal prairies. Yet, over the past two decades fewer than 100 individuals have been reported in the wild.

For a species that only lives on average two years—that’s a very bad place to be.

Mike Morrow is a wildlife biologist at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake. He works with biologist Rebecca Chisholm.

You know, they’re [prairie chickens] an endangered species all over the rest of the country and the world. But this one here, lives only in Texas.

The birds are part of our natural heritage. At the refuge, Morrow and Chisholm work together to give the Prairie Chicken a chance at survival, which includes building predator deterrent fences around nest sites.

The idea of this predator deterrent fence Is to deflect predators away from the nest area so that hopefully they won’t find the nest and destroy it.

The fence doubles the chance of survival for the hens and chicks. And when there are fewer than 100 members in a population, you take those odds.

Working with—arguably the most endangered bird in North America—has its ups and downs. I mean, sometimes, it’s a little bit disappointing. Things don’t go quite as well as you want, but it’s also rewarding when things do. So I think everyone would agree that it’s worth it.

Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016
Deer suffering from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Deer suffering from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

This is Passport to Texas

The outlook for deer season is outstanding thanks to plentiful rainfall. White-tail program leader, Alan Cain.

The rainfall that’s been very prevalent across the state this year, has also provided great vegetation for the mule deer and the pronghorn out there in West Texas. Hunters that are out there pursuing mule deer and pronghorn will have an excellent year [too].

To maintain healthy herds, biologists want hunters to help monitor deer for Chronic Wasting Disease [CWD]—a neurological disease that kills deer, but has no known effect on humans.

Chronic wasting disease has been a concern in Texas since 2012—since the first discovery in the trans Pecos. We also had a new positive discovered in the Panhandle this past hunting season 2015.

Texas Parks and Wildlife created mandatory containment and surveillance zones for Chronic Wasting Disease testing and rules for transporting harvested deer in parts of west Texas.

Hunters in those Chronic Wasting Disease zones that harvest a deer, are required to bring those deer to the check stations so our staff can pull a CWD sample. We do have another CWD zone in portions of Medina, Uvalde and Bandera counties; and that is a voluntary surveillance zone. So, we would appreciate all the help we can get from our hunters out there to bring deer in so we can monitor for CWD.

Find more information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

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