Radio Telemetry and Wild Turkeys

May 27th, 2015
Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

This is Passport to Texas

Biologists knew Texas’ historical drought of 2011, in tandem with wildfires at Possum Kingdom SP, affected Rio Grande Wild Turkeys. But how?

06—Our biologists didn’t have much to draw on as far as experience in handling these situations.

Biologist, Kevin Mote.

08— None of us had ever lived through that; and there was really nothing even in the textbooks or the literature to tell us how to proceed from there.

These events became the impetus for a research project that traps and fits turkeys with state of the art transmitters before releasing them to monitor their movements and determine habitat preferences and needs.

21—We can put out numerous transmitters, and it sends a signal up to a satellite, and it collects an exact fix within six to ten feet accuracy. And we can collect eight to 10, 15 or 20
locations everyday on multiple birds without any human effort [to manually track them].

Prior to that, it took more manpower for less return. From this data, biologists form a snapshot—over time—of the turkey’s actual home range.

13—So, we overlay that over soils maps, highway maps, vegetation maps: all the things that we know affect the behavior and the movements of these birds.

Kevin Mote says biologists use this data to improve their ability to assist private landowners who wish to manage for turkeys.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Turkeys in the Cross-Timbers Eco-region

May 26th, 2015
Cross-timbers Eco-region

Cross-timbers Eco-region

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife is into the fifth year of a long-term research project in the Cross Timbers ecoregion–in North central Texas–that explores habitat needs of Rio Grande Turkey.

15-And the reason we’re doing that is because a high priority goal of our division, and a very important part of our wildlife biologist’s jobs in the field, is to work with our landowners who want to manage their property for wildlife.

Wildlife biologist, Kevin Mote, says the Rio Grande is the largest upland game bird in Texas.

17- There’s a lot of interest from landowners and definitely sportsmen, so it’s a high priority species. And not only that, when you manage for habitat that is good for wild turkeys, it is also managing that habitat for a whole suite of other native species.

Data on this bird exist for the SE US and other areas of Texas, but not for the Cross-Timbers region, says Mote.

21- And so, we were extrapolating concepts, theories, and practices developed in other states, if not other parts of Texas. And so, sometimes, the devil is in the details. We wanted to find out exactly how Rio Grande wild turkeys were making a living on the habitat in the cross timbers.

Biologists have been trapping birds and fitting them with GPS collars.

04-We do have to trap them every winter and fit them with transmitters.

Tomorrow: New radio telemetry technology improves data collection.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Cross-timbers & Praries Ecoregion

Early travelers through north Texas coined the name “Cross Timbers” by their repeated crossings of these timbered areas that proved to be a barrier to their travel on the open prairies to the east and west. This area in north and central Texas includes areas with high density of trees and irregular plains and prairies. Soils are primarily sandy to loamy. Rainfall can be moderate, but somewhat erratic, therefore moisture is often limiting during part of the growing season. Also known as the Osage Plains, it is the southernmost of three tallgrass prairies. It varies from savannah and woodland to the east and south, into shorter mixed-grass prairie to the west. As in the rest of the Great Plains, fire, topography, and drought maintained prairie and established the location of woodlands.

The “Cure” for Feral Swine

May 25th, 2015
Feral Hogs at the Kerry Wildlife Management Area

Feral Hogs at the Kerry Wildlife Management Area

This is Passport to Texas

It’s ironic that sodium nitrite, a preservative used in sausage-making, might one day aid in the control of feral swine in Texas.

11- Sodium nitrite gives cured meat a red color, improves the flavor; we eat it all the time in bacon, ham and any cured meat.

Biologist Donnie Frels works out of the Kerr Wildlife Management Area. Sodium nitrite can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body. Humans and most mammals have an enzyme which efficiently reverses this process: swine cannot.

10- We are attempting to take advantage of that and exploit that in order to use sodium nitrite as a possible control measure in feral swine.

Exotic feral hogs compete with native wildlife for food and destroy habitat. Researchers are working with professional chemists to stabilize the sodium nitrite so they can successfully place it into a “bait matrix”.

12- Which can then be used in a specific feeder which only hogs can gain access to. That way we ensure that other non-target animals are not exposed to the toxicant bait.

Researchers at the Kerr have been investigating sodium nitrite as possible control for feral swine since 2010 (in a secure 12 acre research facility); while it looks promising, Frels says it may be several more years before an effective toxic bait is available commercially.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

TPW TV: Bear Creek Ranch

May 22nd, 2015

This is Passport to Texas

Just west of Fort Worth, Bear Creek Ranch employs old school grazing practices.

12-What we do here at Bear Creek Ranch is we have a native prairie, and we apply a process of where we take the cattle, and graze them in a way that mimics the way the bison grazed the prairie.

Robert Potts is President of Dixon Water Foundation, which operates the ranch.

06-[MOO] They go where the grass is fresh, they move, and then they don’t come back to the place that they are today for a long time.

This type of management has enhanced wildlife on the ranch. And Texas Parks and Wildlife Wildlife Biologist Nathan Rains says, it is one reason why Bear Creek Ranch is a Lone Star Land Steward Award winner.

18-By allowing rest in these pastures and their unique grazing program you get residual grasses and that provides nesting cover and habitat for species like Bobwhite quail and other grassland birds that are declining.

Texas once had 20 million acres of tall grass prairies; because of development and agricultural uses, less than one percent of the original prairie ecosystem remains.

10-In an area like this, on the periphery of the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex–in an urbanized environment–it’s really neat and encouraging to see ranches like this that are dedicated to preserving tall grass prairies.

Learn more about Bear Creek Ranch in a segment next week on the PBS Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series. Check your local listings.

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

How to Remain Safe While Boating

May 21st, 2015

This is Passport to Texas

If you plan on operating a boat get to know items important to keep on board for your safety.

13-You should have a sound producing device, and you should have a life jacket for 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.

21-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 life jacket 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.

In addition, filing a float plan that tells folks on shore where you’ll be and when you plan to return will be vital if an emergency occurs while you’re on the water. Operating a boat has a different set of rules than driving a vehicle.

10-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.

By taking a boating safety course–online or in a classroom–you’ll learn those rules.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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