Are Rattlesnakes Losing Their Rattle?

May 23rd, 2019
Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake

This is Passport to Texas

Maybe you’ve heard stories around the campfire about rattlesnakes losing their ability to rattle. Some chalk it up to feral pig attacks, others to humans who seek out and kill rattlers. If they can’t find you, they can’t kill you, right? But is there any truth to the tales?

It’s a pretty common story that you hear but its completely unsubstantiated.

Dr. Andy Gluesenkamp, herpetologist and Director of Conservation at the San Antonio Zoo says he’s seen no scientific evidence to back up these claims.

I think it’s just conjecture on the part of folks that like a good story or don’t have a very good understanding sort of how natural selection works in the wild. A lot of snakes get collected out of their winter dens for rattlesnake roundups, yet those snakes aren’t being discovered because they rattle. Road mortalities are a significant issue for a lot of snake populations and rattling or not rattling isn’t gonna make a bit of difference with a passing car.

So, what do you do if you come up on a rattler?

Better just to leave the scene. Nine times out of ten the snake will do the same. If you encounter a snake in a place it shouldn’t be say close to structures or in a playground contact a wildlife professional to come remove the snake safely.

We receive support in part from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve.

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

Playing it Safe on the Water

May 22nd, 2019

BOATING SAFTEY, LAKE CONROE, LIFE JACKETS,

This is Passport to Texas

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer boating fun. And, if you plan on operating a boat, ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers with the proper safety gear.

You should have a sound producing device, and you should have a life jacket for every person that’s on board. If you’re boating at night, you should have the proper lights—that are working—and we suggest a first aid kit.

Tim Spice, manager of boater education for Parks and Wildlife, says anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 is required to take boater education.

We cover lots of different things, including safety aspects of boating; the different types of vessel you may have; the rules of the road; the required equipment. Again, everyone on board a vessel needs to have a lifejacket that’s accessible. We define what accessible means by law so that you don’t get in trouble when you’re on the water and a game warden stops to give you a boating safety check.

File a float plan with someone onshore that details where you’ll be and when you plan to return. Keep in mind that the rules for operating a boat differ from that of a car.

There’s no lines on the road; there’s no speed limits, per se. There are different signs and things you have to look out for that are very different than you would in your car.

Boating safety course are available online or in a classroom. Find a link on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

TPW TV– The Oyster Grind

May 21st, 2019
Gulf oysters in repose.

Gulf oysters in repose.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas reefs once held what seemed like an endless supply of oysters. But times have changed. Over the years the daily sack limits have been cut back.

It used to be a hundred and fifty sack a day.

Mauricio Blanco has been an oysterman in Lavaca Bay for 30 years.

Now it’s went down from one hundred and fifty sacks to ninety sacks, and then from ninety sacks, they went down to fifty sacks; this year the state limit is thirty sacks. So, every year we getting less, and less, and less. And the bad part is that fuel, it don’t go down, it goes up and up. But like right now, we probably going to make twenty sacks all day long. Maybe.

In a Texas Parks and Wildlife TV segment that airs the week of May 26, viewers visit the coast where a section of Galveston Bay receives much-needed TLC in the form of new reef bottom. Bill Rodney is a Natural Resource specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Recent science has indicated that most oyster reefs are operating right on the border of sustainability. Everybody realizes that something needs to be done. The key to restoring the habitat is putting fresh cultch out there, cultch can be any materials that oysters can grow on.

Witness the rebirth of an oyster reef and the measures taken to ensure the success of the resource and those who depend on it…on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series, the week of May 26 on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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

The Problem with Aoudads

May 16th, 2019

Aoudad photo by Leroy Williamson, TPWD

This is Passport to Texas

Aoudads are causing huge problems for native Bighorn Sheep reintroduction. But, what exactly is an Aoudad?

Aoudad, which are also known as barbary sheep come from the Barbary coast of Africa and so they are an exotic that occurs out on the landscape. They can be very disruptive to the Bighorn herds as well as other native wildlife species.

Froylan Hernandez, the Desert Bighorn program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife says Aoudads have adapted too well to the Texas landscape and now outcompete our native Bighorns.

…they can utilize the habitat uniformly without really preferring any one plant species. So, they will go, and they will station themselves in one area and once they eat it clean they will move off and go off to another and so they are somewhat nomadic in nature.

This is a problem since the agency and its partners is working hard to restore bighorn sheep to the very landscape the Aoudads have coopted. Texas Parks and Wildlife intervenes when possible, but Aoudads continue to present a problem.

Our goal is to get the Bighorns to a number, or population levels where they don’t require a lot of our intervention. They are still going to require some but certainly not a lot. But the only thing that can happen is if those Aoudad numbers are drastically reduced.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Partners in Bighorn Restoration

May 15th, 2019

Working together to restore Desert Bighorn Sheep.

This is Passport to Texas

Restoring Bighorn sheep to the American landscape is an enormous undertaking.

Texas Parks and Wildlife and I form part of what’s called the Wild Sheep Working Group. So, there’s 19 state and Canadian provinces where some sort of wild sheep occurs.

Froylan Hernandez, the Desert Bighorn program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife says reintroducing Bighorn isn’t a project we could undertake alone. The Texas Bighorn Society has been a huge driving force from the beginning of the restoration process.

We also partner with the wild sheep foundation, TWA, Dallas Safari, Houston Safari, and just numerous other organizations that we’ve partnered with to help the restoration effort.

Bighorn aren’t just being reintroduced to public lands.

We also have private landowners that have bighorns on their property and so critical that they allow us and give us access to go in and remove surplus animals to take them to other places. So, the private land owner is certainly a huge part in this thing.

It’s a massive project but Texas Parks and Wildlife, along with their partners, are up to the challenge. Results are promising, but there’s still plenty of work to do.

Our show receives support from the Wildlife Restoration program.

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