Archive for the 'Habitat' Category

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.

Using Fire as a Tool

Friday, August 24th, 2018

Working on a prescribed burn.

This is Passport to Texas

Fire suppression became U.S. Federal policy in the early 20th century. By 1924, conservationist Aldo Leopold argued that suppressing fire worked against ecosystem health. A change in thinking and policy came in the 80s.

At that time, nationally, they put forward some legislation and some funding—and there was a national fire plan. And the two parts of that plan were first to work on managing the fuels with both mechanical and prescribed fire. And then, of course, enhancing the firefighting capabilities amongst federal and state and local agencies.

Chris Schenk is the statewide fire program leader for the wildlife division at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We develop prescription parameters; we try to give ourselves a reasonable range. But, unless those parameters exist, we are not likely to ignite the fire.

Prescriptions are specific to each piece of land, and include strategies for containment.

We’ll put in some sort of fire break. And, based on how we think the fire is going to behave, we may take the fire break down to mineral soil 20 feet wide. Or some number that’s conducive to how we think that fire’s going to behave.

Lean more about the art and science of wildland fire management when you log onto the ignite the fire. website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds fire management programs in Texas.

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

The Problem with Fire Supression

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018
Building Baseline Interior Ignitions

Building Baseline Interior Ignitions

This is Passport to Texas

The expression “live and learn” applies to the subject of today’s show. Because our predecessors didn’t fully grasp the vital role that fire plays in maintaining healthy ecosystems, they did all in their power to suppress it.

We’ve now come to realize that maybe putting every fire out, or not introducing fire, has placed our wildlands in difficult conditions. Not just for a healthy ecosystem, but for a fire safe community where people live.

Chris Schenk is statewide fire program leader for the wildlife division at Texas Parks and Wildlife. How does the lack of fire make us less safe? As dead, dry plant debris accumulates, it effectively becomes fuel for unintended fires.

The years and years of buildup of coarse and fine woody debris puts communities at great risk. And makes it far more difficult to provide fire protection to those communities [when fires do occur]. So, fire has played a significant role in the development of most parts of the country, and certainly have been a significant issue here in Texas.

We’ve come a long way in our understanding, and now use fire as a tool. More about that tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds fire management programs in Texas.

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

Fire in Nature: Friend or Foe?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018
Managing a burn.

Managing a burn.

This is Passport to Texas

Throughout time, fire has been a tonic for native plant communities.

Vegetation species grow up, and they get decadent and old. And, unless they are rejuvenated, the ecosystem’s just not that healthy. And so fire has been a common occurrence in this continent and in Texas, and it’s caused us to have a varied ecosystem throughout the state.

Chris Schenk is the statewide fire program leader for the wildlife division at Texas Parks and Wildlife. He said that by the early 20th century fire suppression had become official U.S. federal policy.

We suddenly decided that fire was a real bad thing. We were moving west, and now we thought fire was an enemy. So we began a strong campaign throughout the country to put all fires out. And, in fact, even before that, when Texas had become a state, one of the early laws was it was against the law to burn grass, because grass meant income to ranchers and farmers. And so we started thinking of fire as an enemy instead of something that we needed to learn to live with.

Yet, if ecosystems depend on fire for rejuvenation, what happens when we suppress it? That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds fire management programs in Texas.

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

Cool Cats — Bobcats Roaming Urban Areas

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018
A large and lovely bobcat.

A large and lovely bobcat.

This is Passport to Texas

Bobcats thrive in urban areas of Texas. Twice as large as domestic cats, this relative of the lynx is secretive.

If someone comes across a bobcat, take a moment to enjoy the opportunity that you see this secretive, shy animal.

Richard Heilbrun is the conservation outreach leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We did an urban bobcat research project in Dallas-Fort Worth, and we had high numbers of bobcats thriving in the Trinity River corridor, because there’s good, functioning, healthy, ecosystem.

Urban bobcats perform an ecosystem function that most folks don’t realize.

We just completed a research project on diet of urban bobcats in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by looking at their scat. Which is their droppings. And, it looks like urban bobcats in that area, rely on rodents for about 65 percent of their diet. If you tease apart the data just a little bit more, fifty percent of their diet is non-native urban rats. So, they’re really performing an ecosystem function for us by consuming these rats that, biologically, shouldn’t be there anyway. So, we’re taking a negative—these nonnative rats—and we’re feeding them to a native predator that should be there, and is adding value to our ecosystem.

Learn more about urban wildlife on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds research on the ecology of urban bobcats in DFW.

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