Archive for August, 2015

Don’t Blame the Cormorants

Monday, August 24th, 2015
Cormorants waiting around to steal your fish. Not really.

Cormorants waiting around to steal your fish. Not really.

This is Passport to Texas

When we have bad luck, it’s human nature to blame a scapegoat. Some freshwater anglers do this when the fish aren’t biting by blaming the double-crested cormorant.

08-And what they do is they look to their side, and they see a bunch of these dark colored birds fishing, and they’re successful, and the angler’s not.

Naturally, the cormorants must be eating all the sport fish, right? Wrong, says ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford.

17-Our decline in fishes are not because of cormorants, it’s probably because of drought–and also golden algae is another cause for fish declines. So, there have been studies on the cormorant, and they found that most of the cormorant’s diet is non-game fish [like gizzard shad].

No offense, but some cormorant haters may need to step up their games.

06-Let’s not blame the cormorant on fish declines. It could be your equipment. Maybe you’re not doing the right thing. (chuckles)

Unconvinced of cormorants’ culpability regarding creel contents? Then shift your fishing forays to the warmer months only.

16-Our biggest numbers of double-crested cormorants in Texas is in the colder months. They start arriving in October and stay into March-April. They’re wherever there’s open water: stock tanks, stock ponds, aquaculture facilities.

Remember: a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office…even when the cormorants catch more fish than you do.

Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

Early Texas Life…and Sausage

Friday, August 21st, 2015
Hanging sausage to dry at Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Hanging sausage to dry at Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

This is Passport to Texas

Buying ready to cook food wasn’t an option for early Texans. Most grew vegetables and raised animals to feed their families. Timing was everything when processing certain foodstuffs.

05-Things like this butchering that we’re doing today, or making sausage, has to be done in the wintertime.

Summer heat would spoil fresh meat. The Sauer-Beckmann Living History farm, at the LBJ State Park and Historic site, interprets early Texas life.

05-What we’re doing on a daily basis down here is just trying to show you how people would have lived a hundred years ago.

Which means this early 1900s farmstead did not have the benefit of refrigeration. If families wanted bacon or sausage in summer, for example, they had to plan ahead and make it during the cooler months of the year.

05-Because a lot of the meats we prepare, they take about ten days to cure.

Attempting to cure meat in 10 days of Texas– summer heat would raise a stink. Staff uses 60 % beef to 40% pork when making sausage, a favorite of the German families that settled Texas Hill Country communities.

10-You know, these people ate a lot of lard, they ate a lot of fat. But they were working so hard that it really didn’t make them fat, because they burned it all off. They worked their way through all those calories.

Something to consider next time you’re in air conditioned comfort, eating a sausage sandwich, unbuttoning the top button of your jeans.

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

Flooding and Aquatic Invasive Species

Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Zebra Mussels

Zebra Mussels

This is Passport to Texas

Texas lakes and rivers are full and flowing again thanks to an influx of water brought on by heavy spring rains. The downside is we could see the spread of invasive species as a result.

06- We always have to be vigilant about invasive species: zebra mussels…giant salvinia…water hyacinths…

Inland fisheries’ Dave Terre says improved water levels and boat ramp accessibility means more boaters on the water. He adds everyone must do what is in their control to prevent the spread of these species.

09- Make sure that you clean your boats and trailers; and dry your boats–and drain your boats–before going onto other water bodies. It’s the law.

Cleaning, draining and drying boats–that’s within our control. Mother Nature is not. When she soaked Texas, it’s possible she also flushed zebra mussels downstream.

25- Certainly, we’ll be monitoring that situation through time, but at this point it’s really unknown what impact these floods will have on the spread of zebra mussels across our state. But, anglers and boaters still need to be mindful about spreading these species by boat. [Clean, drain & dry] is the one thing we do have control over, and one thing that we can do. We’re always concerned about invasive species trying to keep them out of our water bodies. So we need to control what we can control.

Find information about invasive species at

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Cats and Birds Don’t Mix

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
My indoor-only cat Gigi staring out the window at birds, wishing they were in her mouth.

My indoor-only cat Gigi staring out the window at birds, wishing they were in her mouth.

This is Passport to Texas

Pet cats are a pleasure until they leave a half-eaten bird on the welcome mat.

02—You can’t take the killer out of a cat.

Ornithologist and cat owner, Cliff Shackelford, says cats always follow their natural instincts.

05—Even a well-fed cat is going to still kill things, and it won’t even eat it; it’s very wasteful.

Cats take a big bite out of bird populations annually, which is why they’re better as indoor-only pets.

11—The estimate is in the millions of birds killed per year in the US by cats. And that’s feral cats and pet cats combined.

Cats are not bad; they’re simply out of place in the natural environment. And, bird-loving cat owners sometimes unwittingly enable their outdoor cat’s brutish behavior.

17—Sometimes we encourage them by putting the feeder a little too close to the shrubs, and the tall grass, where the cat can hide in to pounce on the bird at the feeder. So, you want to make sure you keep your feeders away where the cats can’t get to the birds, or the birds have a chance to flee.

Not convinced it’s best to keep kitty inside? Well, animal experts agree that indoor cats have better, longer lives.

13—If you love your cat keep it indoors; it will live longer, it won’t fight with other cats, it won’t get run over. So, I have cats and they stay inside. They like to look at birds; they just do it on the inside of the glass—looking out—like I do.

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

Lone Star Land Steward: Big Woods

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

This is Passport to Texas

In 1995, Dr. Robert McFarlane bought 1,500 acres 90 miles southeast of Dallas along the Trinity River near where he hunted and fished as a kid. Since then he has
pieced together an additional 6,000 acres of river bottom, open marsh wetlands and upland hardwoods, which he named Big Woods.

08- I try to keep the Big Woods true to what I see as the laws of nature. It’s a place where you can go and be in the wild and see the animals and just be.

When Dr. McFarlane acquired the property, it was highly-fragmented and over-grazed. During the last 20 years, he’s walked the land daily, and worked tirelessly to improve aquatic and terrestrial resources.

07- We have 40 to 45 marshes, and over a hundred miles of roads. We plant about 50 food plots.

Dr. McFarlan’s effort to restore this area of the Trinity River is representative of what it means to be a good steward of the land, which may be why he won the 2015 Lone Star Land Steward Leopold Award.

15- When I started buying all this land, and I sold what stocks I owned, my friends thought I was crazy. And they were correct. I think this was a form of insanity, but I think it was a beautiful insanity, and I’m happy to have been crazy.

Learn more about the Lone Star Land Steward program and Dr. McFarlane’s contribution to habitat on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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