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

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.

Mule Deer Restoration

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
Mule deer in Texas

Mule deer in Texas

This is Passport to Texas

The mule deer population is struggling in parts of the Big Bend region of far West Texas.

We’ve been trying to boost our populations in the Black Gap area since about 2015.

Shawn Gray oversees mule deer restoration. Unlike other mule deer populations, those at Black Gap never fully recovered after the last drought.

We had been monitoring that population for years, and it just remained stagnant. And so, the next decision we made was, well, let’s put some animals down there and try to boost it and see if we can’t get the population trending upward.

During population surveys last fall, biologists identified an available of surplus of animals at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Wildlife Management, and one private ranch in Pecos County. Using the helicopter and net gun method, they trapped the animals.

Once we caught them, we radio-collared and tagged them. We gave them a series of injections for health reason, and then loaded them in trailers and took them down to release them.

Shawn Gray says this spring they moved 98 female mule deer to the Black Gap Wildlife Wildlife Management Area and to the adjacent El Carmen Land & Conservation Company, which together comprise 135,000 contiguous acres dedicated to wildlife and habitat conservation.

Of those radio-collared animals, we monitor intensively, looking at survival and movement—habitat use. We use all those findings to help improve the habitat and help improve our survival.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Texas Vultures

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture. Photo by Annie Ellison Regional Interpretive Specialist

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.