Archive for July, 2009

Fighting an Invasive with Fork and Knife

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

When you hear the word tilapia, you may think of a savory meal with lemon butter sauce, but you probably don’t think of the term “invasive species.”

The tilapia are great to eat. They’re raised as a food fish, and they’re quite tasty. They’re quite popular in restaurants. But the problem is when they’re in our natural waters they are upsetting the ecosystem.

Tilapia have been in Texas for decades. They were originally brought in as a food source to be raised in fish farms, but eventually made they’re way into Texas waters.

Gary Garrett, a Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologist, says tilapia can be a threat to large mouth bass and other native species.

They build big pit nests and in doing that they stir up a lot of the settlement. And it’s been shown, for example, with large mouth bass, all that sediment stirred up and settling back down will often kill large mouth bass eggs.

When tilapia do this, they can potentially damage the entire ecosystem because of the intricate food chain.

Texas Parks and Wildlife does have state regulations for tilapia, but because tilapia are found all over the state, they are difficult to control. But if you like to fish, Garrett says you can help.

Don’t throw them back. If you catch them, keep them.

So next time you catch a tilapia, turn on the grill and get cooking. You’ll be doing yourself and the Texas ecosystem a favor.

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Gretchen Mahan. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Texas Outdoor Story: Craig Hensley

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Passport to Texas Outdoor Stories from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Craig Hensley is park specialist at Guadalupe River SP. For years, he’s kept track of birds for research and education purposes by banding them. He shares what his work means to him.

I’ve just started banding here but where I banded back in Nebraska for years, you got to a point where you would see certain birds year after year. And there were some woodpeckers, for example, I think I saw for six or seven years. So when you catch a bird that’s been banded, you look it up and go, “Wow! Who is this?” It’s just, for me a wonderful love of birds that I have.

We were fortunate enough, a couple of months ago, that we had a lady here, the eagle lady. She visits lots of state parks with some birds of prey, and she happened to be in our park on a weekend we were bird banding. And only the second time in all the years I’ve been involved in bird banding we caught a hawk. A sharp-shinned hawk that had chased a bird into the net and that was a treat! I don’t band hawks, I’m not permitted to do that, but we were able to take the bird out of the net, get our pictures made with it and marvel at just a spectacular bird. Best part of the whole thing was it took three of its talons and dug ‘em into my fingers when I was trying to get him out. So when that bird flew off, he actually flew off with a little piece of my skin I think still attached to a talon, which I actually loved, it was like “I’m flying free!” So, it’s kind of odd, but that was a special treat.

One man’s odd is another man’s special treat. Thanks, Craig.

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Sarah Loden… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

It’s Cool to be HIP Certified

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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

If you plan on hunting migratory game birds in Texas this fall, you need to be HIP – HIP certified, that is. HIP stands for Harvest Information Program.

Its purpose is to gain information on waterfowl and migratory bird hunters nationwide. Basically a name and address and a little bit about their previous year’s hunting activity—as well as what they plan on hunting what they plan on hunting in the upcoming year.

Kevin Kraai is Assistant Waterfowl Program Leader. He says the HIP program helps wildlife professionals improve resource management practices as well as track various waterfowl populations throughout the country.

It’s a very useful tool in setting the future year hunting regulations and management decisions.

Being a HIP certified waterfowl hunter isn’t just a good idea—it’s the law.

Officially, it is a requirement by law that every individual that plans on hunting migratory birds in the state of Texas us HIP certified. If you are not HIP certified and you are hunting migratory game birds, you are subject to game violations.

We have a link to information about becoming HIP certified at

That’s our show for today…made possible by a grant from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program…funded by your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motorboat fuel

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

Victor Emanuel, Birding is Gateway to Nature

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

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

Legendary Birder, Victor Emanuel, views birding as a gateway to nature appreciation.

Well, it’s the best way for people to get connected to nature, because birds are the most obvious part of nature visible to us. A lot of the mammals are active at night. But birds are here; they’re all around us.

Emanuel says it’s the fact that they are so visible that makes them interesting.

Birds are some of the most visible creatures around us. You have the song of birds, you have the motion of birds, the fact they can fly. A cardinal, a blue jay, a duck on a pond… they’re large enough and so they attract our attention in a way that smaller creatures don’t.

Victor Emanuel has spent a lifetime watching birds around the world. And while all birds are watchable, he says that doesn’t mean he likes them all.

I actually have a prejudice against introduced birds that are a problem, like starlings. They’re a beautiful bird, actually, with the colors on them in the sunlight. But they take over the nest of native birds, and throw out the young and eggs, so they don’t get to raise their young and eggs. But, yeah, they’re all watchable.

Find links to birding information at

That’s our show for today… with support from the Wildlife Restoration Program… providing funding for habitat conservation in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

TPW Magazine August Preview

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Follow the exploits of a two-man hiking adventure in the August issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine Managing Editor, Louie Bond.

We have a great combination of one of the best writers with one of the best photographers. Joe Nick Patoski has teamed up with Laurence Parent. And they’ve done several books already together that are just spectacular on Texas Mountains, the Texas Coast and the Big Bend area. And this is an exclusive hike that took just for us. And they hiked the Franklin Mountains out there in El Paso. And it wasn’t just any hike—they hiked the ridge—which is a very, very difficult hike. They are adventurers; they have a lot of confidence in each other. And, this is the whole saga. Laurence is taking photos the whole way. They do have an experienced guide helping them, but it sounds like the hike from hell. It is grueling; on one side of the ridge they have to have jackets on for the 30 MPH wind gusts that are chilling them. On the other side of the ridge they are peeling off their clothes. There’re places that they have to crawl on their hands and knees. About eight hours into the ten mile trip, they have to scale a 40-foot cliff. And, even for these experienced hikers, this was quite a climb. And, I can’t wait to see the photos and for everyone to read this great saga written by these two adventurers.

The August issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine is on newsstands now.

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