Archive for March, 2014

Fishing: Saltwater Fishing Forecast

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater Fishing

This is Passport to Texas

Saltwater anglers have a lot to look forward to in 2014.

08— 2014 looks great! We’ve got trout populations that are doing well. Flounder are showing signs of rebounding since the November gigging ban has been put in place.

And that’s just the beginning, says Art Morris, fisheries outreach specialist with coastal fisheries.

20—Red drum are holding their own. Black drum are everywhere. Our trout numbers have risen recently in the last couple of years from a point where we had concerns – especially in the mid-coast. We’re still watching those trends closely, and have recently proposed reducing the bag limit to five up the coast, as we currently have in the Lower Laguna Madre. Nevertheless, we should see some big trout coming in this year. Overall the number of fish are good on the coast.

Recent rains mean better environmental conditions. And when it’s good for the fish, it’s good for the fisherman.

20—Those seeking redfish are probably going to want to hit the mid-coast. We’ve got other species that are basically tropical in nature, like gray snapper –they’re abundant. Hopefully, we’ll have some tarpon this year; snook have been making the rounds up the coast in recent years due to the warmer winters. We’ve got a good variety and good numbers of fish. I think we’ll have a good year in 2014.

Art Morris says coastal fishing is like the proverbial box of chocolates.

03— You never know what you’re going to get. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: it’s all going to be good.

Read more of Art Morris’ thoughts on the 2014 saltwater fishing forecast in TPW Magazine’s February Digital Fishing issue. For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife: Working with Wildlife Rehabilitators

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Red-tail nestling

Red-tail nestling

This is Passport to Texas

Spring is in the air and so are some baby birds as they prematurely exit their nests. If you find one grounded in your yard, resist rescue. The parents may be nearby.

04— Mom and dad know how to raise baby birds a lot better than we do.

If the bird is a featherless nestling, return it to the nest. If it is a feathered, yet flightless fledgling, it may be under mom and dad’s supervision. But if parents are absent, call a rehabilitator.

20—You would work with that person on trying to get the bird to them. Keep in mind the rehabilitator’s busy 24/7 tending to the wildlife they have – so don’t expect them to come all the way to you. So you should probably make the point of, ‘Okay. I’m committed to this; I’m going to see it through. So, I’m going to drive the bird even though it’s an hour away to the rehabilitator.

Rehabilitators are not evenly distributed, and the nearest one might be a two hour drive away, and Cliff says rescuers need to be prepared for that.

20— And we have on the Parks and Wildlife website, a list of the licensed rehabilitators in the state. That is something that has to be permitted. You have to have state and federal permits to be a rehabilitator. You don’t just take it down the road to grandma and hope that she can do it, because the reason they’re permitted is they have to go through training, and they have to have the right facilities to be successful.

Find that list of wildlife rehabilitators listed by county on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Wildlife: Baby Bird Down! Now What?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Baby aplomado falcons

Baby Aplomado Falcons

This is Passport to Texas

As spring approaches it’s good to know what to do if you find a baby bird out of its nest. And the babies most likely to try and get a jump on spring are blue jays.

12— I don’t know what happens. They just jump the nest a couple days early, and the problem is they’re in the backyard where the dogs and cats and kids are. So you really have to focus on not trying to pick up the bird.

Cliff Shackelford, Parks and Wildlife’s non-game ornithologist, says the baby is not abandoned; mom and dad are nearby.

16—The better thing to do would be to pull the cats, dogs and kids in for that day or two and let the baby blue jay make it on its own with mom and dad. Because the fate is not the same if you pick it up and try to rehabilitate it. Mom and dad know how to raise baby birds a lot better than we do.

Even so, it‘s good to be prepared if you do find a baby bird that is vulnerable and unattended.

14— On your refrigerator, where you have the numbers of 9-1-1 and poison control, you should have [the number for] your local rehabilitator on your refrigerator ahead of time. Once you do get that baby bird — you don’t have a lot of time.

Find a list of wildlife rehabilitators by county on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

How to Help Monarchs

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Monarch butterfly life cycle..4th Instar on Joe-Pye Weed.

Monarch butterfly life cycle..4th Instar on Joe-Pye Weed.

This is Passport to Texas

Loss of grasslands to farming and development means fewer “refueling stations” for monarchs during their migration. Master naturalist and writer, Rob McCorkle, says when homeowners living along the butterfly’s migratory route plant milkweed they provide food and habitat for adults and their young.

13— There are different milkweeds in Texas – there are about three predominant types of milkweed: antelope horn, green antelope horn and zizotes is the third one. They’re now becoming more available.

Grasslands aren’t the only monarch habitat disappearing. Logging of fir trees in Central Mexico where monarchs overwinter has severely reduced their roosts. So why provide food and shelter along their migration route if in the end, there’s no place for them to hibernate?

27— That is a good point. The Mexican government in collaboration with the US and Canada have formed a trilateral commission that has studied this impact for several years now. And they’ve taken steps to limit logging and protect the remaining habitat – and have had some success. A single monarch female can lay 300 to 400 eggs. So, the potential is there for the population to rebound to some degree.

Find links to follow monarch’s migration route, learn about installing a monarch friendly garden, and more at

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

Monarch Migration Routes:

Butterfly Garden:

Why Monarchs are in Decline

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

This is Passport to Texas

Fragmentation and loss of habitat creates hardships for monarch butterflies during migration and hibernation.

14— That is being propelled by the elimination of grasslands in the Midwest [where monarchs fuel up during migration] to plant GMO (genetically modified organisms) soybean and corn crops, and to plant crops for biofuels.

Logging in the mountains of Mexico where monarchs overwinter also affects the species. Rob McCorkle wrote an article about the decline of the monarch population for the March issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

At their peak, a billion monarchs filled the skies; today that number is under 50-million. Yet, each of us along their migratory path can help them on their travels by doing one simple thing.

16— The most significant thing scientists say you that you can do is plant milkweed, because that is the sole species the monarchs depend on to lay eggs for emerging caterpillars to feed on.

Find more information about the kinds of milkweed to plant for monarchs at Tomorrow, the kinds of milkweed best suited for monarchs, and how the US, Canada and Mexico are working together to save this iconic species.

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