Archive for September, 2018

TPW TV –Game of Gobblers

Friday, September 21st, 2018
Turkey release.

TPW biologist Trevor Tanner releases a Rio Grande turkeys on Price 77 Ranch near Blooming Grove, Texas

This is Passport to Texas

When European settlers started coming to East Texas, turkeys were thriving. But those settlers quickly changed the landscape.

Around 1925, a hunter could harvest up to 25 turkeys a year. By the 1940s there were less than 100 eastern wild turkeys throughout East Texas. Over-harvest as well as habitat decline really led to the demise of the population.

Kyle Hand is a Texas Parks and Wildlife Natural Resource Specialist. In the 1970s, the agency started a program of bringing wild trapped turkeys from other states to Texas. The program looked promising. Over the next 20 years, more than 7000 eastern wild turkeys were stocked in East Texas.

Now we’re using a super stocking strategy where we release 80 turkeys onto one area of good habitat in hopes that the population will grow from there.

Thanks to the success of these stockings, hunters like Terrence Jackson of Houston have an opportunity to enjoy spring turkey hunting in parts of East Texas.

When I’m on these turkey hunts, basically I love to get away from the busyness of Houston and work and the crowdedness. The sound of the birds, the quiet in the morning and walking through the woods. It’s something that pulls at you.

Experience an East Texas turkey hunt the week of September 23 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

National Hunting and Fishing Day

Thursday, September 20th, 2018
Kayak fishing

Kayak fishing at Gum Slough, part of the Hen House Ridge Unit at Martin Dies SP

This is Passport to Texas

Do you know what the North American wildlife conservation model is? It’s a science-based, user-pay system that fosters conservation success. Do you know who’s responsible for it? Hunters and anglers.

More than 100 years ago they recognized that rapid development and unregulated uses of wildlife were threatening the future of many species. These guys were proactive. You know how we have hunting and fishing licenses and game laws? What about the promotion of the sustainable use of fish and game? It’s thanks to them.

They were so committed to the preservation and reasonable use of resources that they even lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to provide funds for conservation to state wildlife agencies.

To celebrate the passion, commitment and forward-thinking of hunters and anglers then and now, we observe National Hunting and Fishing day on September 22nd.

President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day on May 2, 1972. It’s now observed annually on the fourth Saturday of September.

Observe the day by grabbing a fishing pole, some bait and head to a state park with fishing opportunities. While you relax on the bank, or lean over the railing of a pier, or bob around on a boat, remember those hunters and anglers then and now who do what they can to ensure we all have meaningful outdoor opportunities.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Northward Migration of White-winged Dove

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
White-winged dove.

White-winged dove.

This is Passport to Texas

At the turn of the last century, white winged dove populations in Texas were robust. Found mostly in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, their numbers declined as agriculture took root there.

They [farmers] took out a lot of native habitat—your brush and shrub species that are native to South Texas. That’s where the birds bred and roosted, so they required that habitat. A lot of that was wiped out for agriculture. So, through the 20s and 30s and 40s, we saw a big decline in the white-wing population in Texas.

Citrus dominated the landscape. Owen Fitzsimmons is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s web-less migratory game bird leader. As citrus groves matured, the doves rebounded.

They like open areas with large mature stands of trees—and citrus groves were perfect for that. So white-winged doves quickly colonized those citrus groves.

Hard freezes in the 40s & 50s, and again in the 80s devastated the citrus groves, and also the doves.

So, the white-winged dove population fluctuated up and down through the middle of the century.

In the 80s, urban expansion moved northward along the I-35 corridor and white-winged doves followed.

They’re found throughout Texas, now. They’re found all the way up into Oklahoma. They’re breeding in Kansas and Missouri. Northward expansion is unlimited at this point.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds research on White-winged Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest.

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

Why and How Leaves Change Color in Fall

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Colorful fall foliage at Garner State Park.

This is Passport to Texas

Why is the sky blue? Why do birds sing? Why do leaves turn color in fall? We’ve got you covered on fall foliage. It begins with longer nights…

…which is a signal that winter is coming. And, a consequence of that is the leaf is no longer making chlorophyll and other pigments start to show up. Some are already there, some are produced after the leaf stops making chlorophyll.

Damon Waitt is director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, formerly of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. Another part of the “coloring” process is when leaves seal themselves off from the trees.

And it’s during that time that the leaves are changing color. Because one of the coolest colors, of course, is red and purple. You know, the Big Tooth Maple colors. That’s actually a pigment called anthocyanin, and it’s produced when that leaf is cut off from the rest of the plant. And the sugars that are still left in that leaf will actually convert to this pigment and turn red.

A chemical process (triggered by longer nights) causes leaves to change color. However, other variables affect the depth of color.

So, there are a lot of things that can affect how deep the reds are: temperature, sunlight…all these things have an effect on the expression of these different colors. And, that’s why each fall is different.

Now, go forth and amaze your friends with your newfound knowledge.

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

Fall is Nearly Here and so is Fall Color

Monday, September 17th, 2018
Fall foliage and fishing at Garner State Park

Fall foliage and fishing at Garner State Park

This is Passport to Texas

Tis the season when we see foliage turn colors. If you’re like me, you wonder why, and what purpose it serves.

Right. It’s kind of like, why is the sky blue type question. But the interesting thing about fall color is it doesn’t really have a purpose. It’s the result of some chemical processes that occur in the leaf.

Damon Waitt is director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, formerly of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

When you think about being a leaf during the wintertime… it’s not a good time to be a leaf. Especially if you’re a thin flat one. Because, cold temperatures are going to kill that leaf.

So, these trees cut their losses as seasons change.

They want to capture all those good chemicals out of the leaf before winter and put them back in the tree and store them in the roots. And so that’s what they start to do when the nights get longer, which is a signal that winter is coming. A consequence of that is the leaf is no longer making chlorophyll; other pigments start to show up.

Damon Waitt likens this process to recycling.

Yes, trees are great recyclers. They don’t want to waste all those great chemical compounds that are out in the leaf that have been doing work all summer long, and in the spring, causing the plant to grow. So, they recycle the chemicals they can, and then dispose of the leftover material that’s in the leaf.

That leftover material is what you rake every fall. More fall foliage tomorrow.

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