Archive for November, 2009

Rethinking Catfish: A New Old Favorite

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

This is Passport to Texas

Anglers have rediscovered catfish; and with new pressure on the fishery, new management practices are in effect.

We’re going to have some new fishing regulations for blue catfish in three lakes that have great potential for producing trophy fisheries.

Dave Terre is chief of Inland Fisheries research and management. New regulations have been in place for blue cats at Richland Chambers Reservoir, Lake Lewisville, and Lake Waco, since September first.

On those reservoirs, we will have a 30 to 45 inch slot length limit. What the length limit does is it protects fish between 30 inches and 45 inches from harvest. Which gives opportunity for those fish to become very, very large. Under these limits, anglers can harvest fish less than 30 inches, and those above 45 inches.

The total daily bag limit is 25 fish per day under 30 inches and only one per day over 45 inches.

Texas has a reputation for growing huge cats. With the new regulations in place, Terre says trophy potential can reach a new level, and he seeks angler input to make it happen.

We want to survey the anglers of Texas and understand what they would like to see in their catfish fishing for the future, then use the tools that we have as fisheries managers to try to make catfish fishing better.

Including length limits and stocking.

Our show receives support from the Sport Fish Restoration Program…supporting fisheries research in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Endagnered Species: Texas Snowbell

Friday, November 20th, 2009

This is Passport to Texas

When the wind blows, its leaves shimmer, and in the spring, its beautiful white flowers bloom. It was this beauty that inspired J. David Bamberger to save the endangered Texas Snowbell.

Bamberger owns 55 hundred acres in Blanco County and is an avid conservationist. But one of his greatest success stories is the Texas Snowbell. In 1987, state officials estimated there were 87 Snowbells in Texas. Since then, Bamberger’s team has planted and maintained 682 more.

I spent five years going door to door, well ranch to ranch out in Edwards County, Real County, Val Verde County. And it took me five years to gain access to a ranch to look for the plant.

Once he did, Bamberger began collecting the seeds from the plants he found and replanting them on the ranches. But even with all his success, Bamberger says the Texas Snowbell will likely always be endangered.

Now the scientists are saying that they won’t be delisted until we have 10,000 plants. That’s never going to happen, never ever going to happen. I think they need to reassess that number because before we came along the reintroductions were basically zero.

Bamberger continues to monitor Texas Snowbells and conduct research at his ranch, keeping the Texas Snowbell alive and well.

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

Recovery Implementation Program

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program, or RIP, protects endangered and threatened species in the Edwards Aquifer.

Many of these species are no more than an inch long. The Comal springs riffle beetle is even smaller…only two millimeters long.

But Parks and Wildlife water resources branch chief, Cindy Loeffler, says preserving the species is crucial to the ecosystem.

These are, you know, you’ve heard the cliché canary in the coal mine. If we want to truly protect natural resources, fish and wildlife, these unique ecosystems. These species are indicators of the health of those ecosystems.

Loeffler also says if the program protects the identified species, it will most likely save many more in the process.

We have some species that there’s very little known about. And these are in a way the tip of the iceberg of the threatened and endangered species that are found associated with the Edwards Aquifer. There are many more species that are not listed that are found no where else.

Many of these species are found no where else in the world…like the San Marcos blind salamander and Texas wild rice. And pumping water from the Edwards Aquifer alters the habitat, putting these species in an unstable environment.

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Gretchen Mahan. Discover how you can help at For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Invasive Species: Water Spinach

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

This is Passport to Texas

I’m strong to the finish, ‘cause I eats me spinach. I’m Popeye the sailor man.

By eating water spinach, you won’t become as strong as Popeye. But in the 1970s water spinach was imported to the U.S. from Asia because of its nutritional value.

It does grow very fast, which makes it a good plant to cultivate for food.

For this same reason, many people worry that if water spinach isn’t regulated, it could invade waterways, creating problems such as becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Currently, growing and consuming water spinach is legal, but stores can’t sell it. But Parks and Wildlife is changing their regulations so distributors can legally sell the plant if they buy it from an approved cultivator.

Earl Chilton is a TPWD aquatic habitat enhancement director. He says the regulations are just a precaution.

Here in Texas it may not be that dangerous anyway because it’s been completely unregulated for almost 30 years. It has been sold at HEB and Whole Foods and restaurants without any permits because our law enforcement people and us simply didn’t know about it. We have yet to find it established in the wild anywhere, despite the fact that in the area where they’re growing it, there have been any number of hurricanes over the last 30 years that have destroyed greenhouses and washed plants here and there.

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

Recruiting a Few Good Prairie Chickens

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

This is Passport to Texas

The military…corporate America…and sports teams all depend on good recruiting—something they have in common with the endangered Attwater’s Prairie Chicken.

Historically, this bird went through periods of time when a population would be devastated, and then it would recruit from neighboring populations.

But they’ve had to change their recruiting tactics, says Mark Klym, Adopt-a-Prairie Chicken Program coordinator.

Today those recruits have to come from the zoos.

Development destroyed the prairie chicken’s coastal habitat, reducing its population from a million birds at the turn of the 20th century to just 90 animals today—and that’s up from an all time low of 40 in 2005. Currently Three small populations are being maintained in the wild.

The bird is being reproduced for release. We are confident that we have enough birds that we can maintain these three populations now that we have in the wild. But there are biologists out there working with landowners every day trying to get land back in condition. And we have a number of landowners just waiting and asking for release of the birds on their land.

Klym maintains the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken will continue to rebound, and not go quietly into that good night.

We frequently get emails and calls asking when we expect this birds to go extinct. We don’t expect it to go extinct. This is going to be another good news story.

Learn about the adopt-a-prairie chicken program at The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.