Archive for January, 2010

Endangered Ocelot

Friday, January 29th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Ocelots once roamed throughout Texas, Mexico, and into Arkansas and Louisiana. Jody Mays says today, only a few survive in the thick brush and shelters of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

As far as we know, there less than 100 ocelots left in the United States. The ocelot’s range has disappeared, and now they only occur in the southern most tip of Texas, and that’s the only place in the whole United States that they occur.

Mays is a Wildlife Biologist at Laguna Atascosa Natural Wildlife Refuge. She explains reasons for the population decline.

Usually with an endangered species, you have multiple impacts that they get hit with. For the ocelot, the biggest one was the habitat loss. Some estimates say that over 95% of the native habitat in Texas has been altered. A lot of the thick habitats have been cleared for agriculture, and for development, and for other purposes. Another associated impact with that is habitat fragmentation, and that’s where, you say, have one large piece of thick habitat that gets cut up into smaller pieces that are farther and farther apart. Loss of genetic diversity is another big issue, and that’s as a result of this habitat loss and fragmentation.

That’s our show for today…supported by the Wildlife Restoration Program… helping to fund the operations and management of more than 50 wildlife management areas…

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

Operation Game Thief

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Since 1981, Operation Game Thief has been protecting Texas’ natural resources with the help of a nature-loving public that calls in with tips about law-breakers.

When our game wardens respond, and they can catch the individual, and make the arrest by citation—or physically take them to jail—upon their conviction, that individual can be eligible for a reward payment of us to one thousand dollars.

Eric Howard, Operation Game Thief program administrator, says most people who call the Crime Stoppers-like hotline aren’t interested in a reward.

It’s more just pride—love of Texas’ natural resources. When a person calls in, they’re asked, do they want a reward. About 60-65% will say no, they’re just calling in because they see something that they know isn’t right and they just want it stopped.

Game Warden Howard tells us about an incident this fall in which a man captured two hawks in Laredo and transported them to North Carolina. The case was still unfolding at the time of our interview.

Someone contacted the Operation Game Thief hotline number, and a Game Warden responded through a very lengthy investigation—not only through Texas Parks and Wildlife—but the USFWS, and NC Fish and game Service. It was determined that the person did not have a license, was not permitted to have the hawks and was not any kind of falconer.

And that made the trapping and transport illegal. Learn more about Operation Game Thief, and find the hotline number on the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

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

From the Operation Game Thief Website:

Poachers are stealing from you! Help stop to illegal hunting and fishing in Texas. If you have information which will assist game wardens in apprehending persons who are violating the hunting and fishing regulations of this state, Operation Game Thief needs your help!

Call immediately! Dial toll-free, 1-800-792-GAME (4263), any time, day or night and provide the following information to the Texas Parks and Wildlife police communications officer:

  • the nature of the violation
  • the location of the violation
  • the name and/or description of the violator
  • a description of any vehicle or boat involved in the violation
  • any other important information which will assist in apprehending the violator

If you wish to remain anonymous, a code number will be assigned to you. You do not have to give your name if you do not want to. The more information you can provide at the earliest opportunity will increase the probability of and arrest and conviction.

Report illegal hunting and fishing – call 1-800-792-GAME (4263).
“This information will not be used for any purpose other than to attempt to apprehend the offender being reported.”

“If this violation is currently in progress,
please call 800 792-4263 (GAME) immediately.”

Become a Junior Angler Instructor

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

Whether you’re an avid angler… or someone who enjoys working with kids… becoming a Volunteer Angler Education Instructor is fun and rewarding.

In the instructor class, we give them all of the tools and the knowledge and skills they would need to teach kids the junior angler program.

Ann Miller oversees the program. She says anglers who become instructors get to share their love of fishing with kids…as well teach them how to fish responsibly.

Many adults out there are anglers themselves, and really want to share that love of fishing with the younger generation. And this gives them the opportunity to do that. Many adults also are working already with different youth groups and our junior angler program is just a wonderful addition to their potpourri of things that they can do with kids.

Miller says she finds that youth group leaders are attracted to the Junior Angler program because of the positive impact it can have on the children they mentor.

They do want to have a positive outlet for their energies and enthusiasm and, kids just love it. So, this is something that they can do to steer kids in the right direction.

Learn how you can become a junior angler instructor by visiting our website at

That’s our show…we receive support 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.

Paddling: Rio Grande White Water

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

What if I told you the Rio Grande has a class two white water rapid—would you believe me? Would you believe Eric Ellman?

We’ve been leading tours on a class two rapid below Anzalduas Dam that Gary Lacey, who designed the US National Whitewater Training Center in Charlotte North Carolina flew out to take a look at for free, himself, because he could hardly believe it. He believes it is a world class white water park waiting to be built.

Ellman is the Executive director of Los Caminos Del Rio a non profit that preserves and promotes the natural and cultural heritage of the Rio Grande Valley from Laredo to the Gulf of Mexico—and paddling the Rio Grande is one way to bring attention the area, and change attitudes. Building a white water park would be another.

So far the best place we’ve found for a white water park would probably below Anzalduas Dam. There’s already sufficient drop, the water coming out below the dam is cool and clear most of the year, and there’s opportunities to do something even more extravagant, which the IBWC has said would be possible, involving taking off water above the river and creating a water course through the park and putting it back into the river below the dam, thereby obviating any of the cross-border issues that people are generally most concerned about.

The bi-national white water park is currently in discussions. We’ll have updates as they are available.

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

Paddling: Understanding the Rio Grande

Monday, January 25th, 2010

This is Passport to Texas

The Rio Grande Valley and its river are misunderstood, but Eric Ellman, Executive Director of the non-profit Los Caminos Del Rio,is out to change that.

The organization’s focus is on historical and environmental preservation. And we’ve found recently that paddling is a great way to bring people’s attention to the area, and to fundamentally alter the way that they perceive the Rio Grande River and the Rio Grande Valley.

Most of us have an opinion about the Rio Grande, but few of us have actually spent time on it. Yet when we do, Ellman says we are forced to reexamine our preconceptions.

There are all kinds of positive associations to be made with the river. The river is free-flowing, it’s there’s year-round, the weather is warm, the birding is great, we have some of the most historic buildings in the country on either side. We’ve been running trips there and taking literally hundreds of people down there in the last few years and we have never had a single unpleasant incident. And, we really think it’s going to become the wintertime destination for canoe and kayak racing for the entire United States and perhaps northern Mexico.

And Ellman says there’s something you may not know about the Rio Grande River that could surprise you.

Gary Lacey who designed the US National Whitewater Training center could hardly believe it.

And we’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

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