Archive for November, 2007

Birds of Prey

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

A raptor hunts for food primarily using its talons. Think hawks and eagles.

Raptors are the birds that are living just almost the same level as we are.

John Karger is Executive Director of Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy. He rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds and — when feasible – releases them back into the wild, where they play an important role.

The raptors are prime indicators. When they get sick, we’re going to be sick. Thus in the 1960s we realized that we put a lot of chemicals on the earth. We knew that we did that because the birds were disappearing.

Each October, Karger brings his raptors to Parks and Wildlife Expo to demonstrate their prowess, and more importantly, to stir in visitors a sense of stewardship.

If I could get them to do one thing – just take a moment – realize how incredible nature is, and that it can really give you a sense of awe…a sense of incredible. What I really want people to do it to come to the Expo and realize that the whole outdoor world is there, and it is ours for just enjoying tremendously if we just take care of it.

Learn more about John Karger’s Last Chance Forever Birds of Prey Conservancy at

That’s our show for today…for Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Visit John Karger’s last Chance Forever Birds of Prey website: (copy and paste into browser)

From their website: Founded in 1978 by Master Falconer and Veterinary Technician John Karger, Last Chance Forever is a nonprofit, tax exempt organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick, injured and orphaned birds of prey, scientific investigation, and also just as importantly, the education of the public. Each year the project receives between 150-300 birds into the facility for care. An average of 65-80% of all cases are successfully returned to nature. Birds which are deemed non-releasable and are not suffering –when possible– are held to be placed in propagation projects, natural science centers for educational purposes, or humane research projects.

In addition to properly caring for the birds, Last Chance Forever has designed an educational program for presentation to children, civic organizations and interested individuals. This program is seen by over 500,000 people annually throughout the United States. It promotes a common sense attitude towards the interaction of mankind and our environment. Through this program, we also hope to encourage a change in attitudes concerning birds of prey such as hawks, owls, falcons, vultures and eagles.

John Karger’s Birds of Prey

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

John Karger is not unlike the raptors he rehabilitates.

Well, I’m pretty sharp; I’m pointed. There’s no playing games with me. I’m right down to the business. You either like me or you don’t like me.

Karger is Executive Director of Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy in San Antonio. I caught up with him at this year’s Parks and Wildlife Expo.

I got interested in birds of prey when I was about nine years of age because there was a man in my neighborhood who was a falconer. He actually used the birds of prey to hunt game. He flew the birds quite well, and I was just amazed by how these creatures that would fly away and come back to you. And that’s where my interest in birds of prey started.

Although life took Karger down varied career paths, the pull of the raptors was too great. His passion eventually led to the creation of the Conservancy.

At the conservancy, we are there as a pivotal point for birds that are injured, or sick, or orphaned. And we get these birds in, we repair them, we raise them, and we try to get them back into the wild, helping our own natural resources.

More on Karger’s Birds of Prey tomorrow.

That’s our show for today…for Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Visit John Karger’s last Chance Forever Birds of Prey website: (copy and paste into browser)

Hunter Education

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program

Some hunters are required to take a hunter education course before heading into the field.

That’s if they’re born on or after September two, nineteen seventy one.

Terry Erwin, hunter education coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife, says there’s an easy way to find out if you’re required to take it.

If they’ll just take a quick look at their license, right under their city where they have HIP [harvest information program] certification, it should say HE [hunter education] required, or Hunter Ed required. If it’s on there, then that means they need to take the course. And we have plenty of courses scheduled throughout the state, especially right coming up before Thanksgiving, and again right before the Christmas holidays.

Those taking the course learn more than just how to aim and fire.

Oh, they learn firearm safety, they learn wildlife management, recreation safety, they learn about conservation, they learn about ethics, responsibility and game laws. All those things they need to be a safe, responsible hunter out in the field.

Find a link to Hunter Education classes at

That’s our show…made possible in part by the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…working to increase hunting, fishing, shooting and boating opportunities in Texas.

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

Texas Snakes

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Cool autumn temperatures lure many of us from the four walls of our homes into the wide-open spaces of state parks for picnics, hikes and camp outs. When outdoors, remember that snakes are all around us. Whether or not you see them may depend on where you are.

If you’re up in the Panhandle, or north Texas, they’re definitely getting inactive. But, south of San Antonio, and on down into the valley, snakes can be active all year round – although they’ll be less so.

Andy Price is a herpetologist with Parks and Wildlife. Of the seventy five to eighty kinds of snakes we have in Texas, twelve are venomous.

I think the statistics show that there is about one fatality a year in Texas, on average. That doesn’t mean a snake bite isn’t a serious medical situation. But, if you get the proper medical treatment, you’ll survive.

Your best defense is to learn about the snakes in your area… and to keep a respectful distance.

It’s good to be careful about anything that you don’t understand that has a potentially harmful consequence to it, But on the other hand, if you live in Texas, snakes are a given. And it’s incumbent upon you to know something about the environment around you, whether it’s fire ants, Africanized honeybees, or whatever the case may be. And, snakes are not different.

Find suggested reading on snakes at

That’s our show for today… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Resources for learning more about Texas snakes:

Texas Snakes: Identification, Distribution, and Natural History (Hardcover), by John E., Werler (Author), James R. Dixon (Author), Regina Levoy (Illustrator) — University of Texas Press.

Lone Star Field Guide to Texas Snakes
, Third Edition (Lone Star Guides) (Paperback) by Alan Tennant (Author)

Landowner Assistance

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Wildlife Restoration Program

You own land and want maintain healthy habitat and wildlife, but you’re not sure what to do. Lucky for you, Parks and Wildlife biologists are at your service.

We have biologists that are responsible for every county, and those folks are the ones that work one-on-one with landowners to help them understand their resources, help them understand what kinds of management will enhance their properties for the various types of wildlife they’re most interested in.

Linda Campbell is program director for private lands and public hunting. She says the agency helps landowners take an ecosystem approach to land management, and never insists and owners follow a certain path.

It’s always their decision, it’s their plan, but we offer the free consultation, the free advice to them in helping them achieve their management goals.

Landowners learn to read and understand their land with the help of biologists. From this understanding, they discern the possibilities.

Many landowners today are interested in wildlife diversity; they just want diverse habitats that support a lot of different types of wildlife. So, that’s a goal that we help landowners achieve as well as species specific type management.

Find links to landowner assistance information at

That’s our show for today… with support from the Wildlife Restoration Program… providing funding for the Private Lands and Public Hunting Program.

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