Archive for January, 2015

TPW TV: Save Our Sharks

Friday, January 30th, 2015


SOS: Save Our Sharks

SOS: Save Our Sharks

This is Passport to Texas

As marine predators go, sharks swim at the top of the food chain.

08—Without having these top end Apex predators, you have the ecosystem that gets out of balance, These predators help control everything below them.

But they can’t control what’s below them if they’re gone.

07—Worldwide, sharks have been depleted by overfishing. Between 30 and 70 million sharks [are] killed by humans every year.

Dr. Greg Stunz is a marine biologist with the Harte Research Institute, and appears the week of February 1 on a For Texas Parks and Wildlife PBS TV segment called SOS: Save Our Sharks.

08—One of the things that has contributed to a decline in sharks is shark finning: fishermen actually catch the sharks, cut their fins off, and discard the body.

Illegal in American waters since 1993, finning remains active in foreign waters, as fishermen earn up to $900 a pound for the fins. Illegal fishing on gear called long lines occurs close to home, too; it’s the most immediate threat to sharks in the U.S. says Game Warden Sgt. Luis Sosa.

12—We’ve got Mexican commercial fishermen that come into US water – Texas waters – on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the most common type of species that is being caught on this illegal gear is sharks.

Save Our Sharks airs the Week of February 1 on PBS stations. Check Local listings. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series, and receives funding through your purchase of fishing and hunting equipment and motor boat fuel…

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

Game Wardens: Illegal Fishing in the Gulf

Thursday, January 29th, 2015


Texas Parks & Wildlife patol in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mexican border.

Texas Parks & Wildlife patrol in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mexican border.

This is Passport to Texas

Gillnets are vertical panels of netting used by some commercial fishermen; they arbitrarily catch fish and other wildlife, and are illegal in Texas waters. During an enhanced marine patrol last fall, Texas Game Wardens seized roughly 8,000 feet of gillnet.

07— The gillnets were actually in the Rio Grande River, which is a fertile ecosystem that feeds to the Gulf of Mexico.

Captain James Dunks, a Game Warden in the Brownsville District in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, says they made no arrests in this Class B misdemeanor case, but he’s certain who owned the nets.

27— There’s a commercial fishing village just south of the Mexico border; it’s called La Playa Bagdad. And basically all it is, is a commercial fishing camp; they have a bunch of boats and captains that are fishing out of that area. We chase them, and we catch a few. The coast guard catches a few. And every time you interview one, you ask them why do you keep coming over here. And they’ll tell you they don’t have any fish left. So, they’re having to utilize our resources for their personal gain.

Captain Dunks says these fishermen are after whatever they can sell, saying bull sharks are close to shore these days, and with shark fin soup a delicacy…

06— They’ll take them right up to the beach, cut the fins off, and I’ve heard of them discarding the actual shark – just to cut the fins off.

Anyone who witnesses alleged illegal commercial fishing activity is encouraged to call their local game warden or Operation Game Thief.

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

Game Wardens: Wardens on the Water

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015


Texas Game Wardens on the water.

Texas Game Wardens on the water.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Game Wardens cover a lot of ground; and sometimes that “ground” is water.

07— Basically what we are looking for is anything out of the ordinary that you could find out in the water; it could be a coke bottle floating.

Those bottles may look like trash, says Captain James Dunks, Game Warden in the Brownsville District in the Lower Rio Grande Valley—but they’re not.

09— Sometimes you’ll have a line tied to the coke bottle, and it will go all the way to the bottom; it could be a two mile section of long line that is on the bottom, and it’s just marked by a coke bottle.

Texas waters extend nine nautical miles offshore, and game wardens patrol all of it. When they find long lines, which are illegal in Texas and US waters, they pull them up.

25— Basically what it is, it’s a bottom line. And they’re usually set a mile long, and they have a series of hooks that are baited. And, it sits right down on the bottom, and whatever comes by and eats that bait is going to get hooked. And typically what they’re after is sharks, reef fish such as snapper; occasionally you’ll find a tarpon hooked on them. I’ve seen sea turtles; I’ve even seen blue marlin hooked on these long lines within our nine mile jurisdiction.

By thwarting illegal gulf fishing, Game Wardens help preserve Texas’ ecosystems and resources. But long lines aren’t the only threat to marine species; details tomorrow.

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

Birding: Making Backyard Birds Count

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015


Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

This is Passport to Texas

The Great Backyard Bird Count provides citizens a chance to collect data to help researchers understand birds.

15—You’re basically counting all the birds you see at that spot on the planet; and the best part is it’s in your backyard. You’re starting to really pay attention to what birds are there in the wintertime. And, it’s just a lot of fun – it’s a learning experience for everybody.

TPW ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says the count, February 13 through 16, is like a snapshot of bird life.

08—You’re counting both the number of species and the number of individuals per species. So, you’re getting two different numbers. Both kinds of information are very valuable.

Register at or It’s free. Cliff suggests doing your “homework” before getting started.

20—Crack your field guide open and start learning what species are even possible for your area – which ones would be in big numbers and which ones might be something rarer that you would want to get a photograph of. So, if you had, say, a Rufus hummingbird in February that might be something you might want to get a picture of just in case.

By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, and sharing your observations, you help expand the knowledge base of all… in the fascinating world of birds.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

Birding: Great Backyard Bird Count

Monday, January 26th, 2015
Cardinal in a backyard tree.

Cardinal in a backyard tree.

This is Passport to Texas

You want to take part in a citizen science project, but you can’t get away to spend time in the field. What do you do?

05—Count the birds that are coming to your feeder and in your backyard all day long.

That may sound random. Yet, Cliff Shackelford, Texas Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist, says the Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is far from random. They combine data submitted by citizens with other surveys, which helps scientists understand how environmental changes affect bird species.

15— And what’s really neat is after thousands of people do it, and in the country tens of thousands people, you see: Wow, look at where black capped chickadees are versus Carolina chickadees. And you can see where the invasion of – say – red breasted nuthatches are that winter.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is February 13 through 16; it’s easy to participate. Just choose a day and register your location on or

05—So, you just count the birds and submit online. It’s really easy and doesn’t cost anything.

Count for at LEAST fifteen minutes – but you can count longer – and keep track of the species you see and how long you watched.

10—And, you might have chores throughout the day, but you’re constantly walking by the window. Just look and see what’s out there, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be at your bird feeder; it’ can be at your birdbath; it can be in the trees in the backyard.

We’ll have tips on making birds count tomorrow.

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