Archive for the 'Conservation' Category

Restoring the Past

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Mule Deer Buck

This is Passport

Found in the Trans Pecos and Panhandle ecoregions, mule deer is an iconic Texas species. Biologist, Shawn Gray, says populations cycle up and down over the years.

A long, long, long time ago, we used to have a lot of mule deer up in the panhandle before European settlement. But, through different range practices, and different land use practices and unregulated hunting, we depleted the mule deer population up there. But through years of better management and restoration efforts, it seems like the population up there is doing pretty well now.

Gray is the state’s mule deer program leader. Texas has an estimated population of 285,000 mule deer…that’s despite a decline in the Trans Pecos population at the Black Gap WMA during the last drought.

In 2011, we reached almost an all-time low in our mule deer herd from the 70s. So, when you look at that 2011 number to today, we’re looking a lot better, for sure.

Through focused population management, including translocation of animals to these areas, as well as habitat improvements, the state’s mule deer population is stable to increasing.

There’s not very many places that really need a lot more mule deer. And hopefully we’re beyond that [translocation] with our last translocation to the Black Gap, if everything’s working in our favor.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mule Deer restoration in Texas.

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

Big Time Texas Hunts South Texas Safari

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Nilgai can weigh up to 700 lbs., stand 4’5” at shoulder and be up to 6.6 ft long.

This is Passport to Texas

Big Time Texas Hunts raises funds for wildlife conservation by offering the public chances to win one of 10 premium hunt packages for $9 per online entry.

One of our most popular hunts is the Grand Slam. Where one hunter will go on four separate hunts over the course of a year… for whitetail, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and Desert Bighorn Sheep on one of our west Texas WMAs. So, it’s a dream hunt package that’s very popular—and one hunter gets drawn every year for it.

Justin Dreibelbis is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s program director for private lands and public hunting. The Grand Slam may be the biggest hunt package, but the newest and certainly a challenging hunt is the Nilgai Antelope Safari in South Texas.

It’s not your typical Texas deer hunt from a stand. This will be a hunt where you’re spending a lot of time in a jeep riding around trying to spot animals. And from that point, once you spot the nilgai, then it’s a spot and stalk. And, you’re actually out in the brush sneaking up on these critters. And it’s just a very fun, challenging hunt, that’s really a good test of a hunter’s abilities.

Enter online through October 15 at the TPW website; $9 per entry. You’ll pay a $5 online administrative fee, but it allows unlimited entries in a single transaction.

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

TPW TV – West Texas Wetland

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Curved Bill Thrasher at Christmas Mountains Oasis

This is Passport to Texas

In a region best known for its rugged terrain and dry desert ecology, avid birders, Carolyn Ohl-Johnson and her late husband Sherwood, created something magical in the Christmas Mountains of West Texas.

It’s a refuge for birds, butterflies.

Started in the 1990s, the couple developed ways to capture water that fell or flowed on their property.

And I told him how we could put in some diversion dams, and he just hopped right on that without greasing his equipment the same day! And so we started out with one tank that wasn’t nearly big enough.

So began a lifelong passion to establish an oasis in the middle of the desert to draw birds to her West Texas home. The Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS features Carolyn’s oasis on this week’s show.

I can be sitting here, just looking at the same old stuff, and bet money that nothing interesting’s gonna come along. And there, all of a sudden, oh my gosh, there’s a lifer! But it won’t happen if I’m not sitting here looking, so what do you do! You sure don’t get much work done, that’s for sure.

Tune into the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS through August fourth to see not only Carolyn’s oasis, but another lush wetland project in West Texas. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Bay Seining in Texas

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Examining marine life in sein net.

This is Passport to Texas

We call searching the Internet surfing. But, we call searching a net that’s been in the surf, seining.

Seining is dragging a long net through the water, catching small fish and aquatic animals.

Hans Haglund is superintendent at Galveston Island State Park. He says the bay waters are teaming with all kind of life. And he’s taken more than a few visitors seining in Galveston Bay.

We do it to help educate about the bay, the wetlands, the environment out here; to show people how important they are, how productive they are, what these areas do for us, why we might need to protect them and look out for them.

Abundant, healthy wetlands can help to mitigate potential flood damage, as well as serve as nurseries for marine life. Haglund describes visitor reactions to what they catch in their seine nets.

Oh, I never know that was out there, and I never knew you could get so much in a little area. Even people that have been using the bay a lot – a lot of fishermen – don’t realize how productive these areas are.

Some of the more unusual fish Haglund says they see include the pipe fish and lizard fish.

Summer’s here, and Galveston Island State Park offers a great coastal getaway. Learn more at

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series…and works to increase fishing and boating opportunities in Texas.

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

TPW TV: Guarding the Nest

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Rookery. Photo by Grady Allen from TPW Magazine.

This is Passport to Texas

When it’s nesting time for birds along the Gulf Coast, it’s time for humans to keep their distance and to be careful not to disturb them.

If you see a group of birds on an island, anywhere between say March and August, and they’re acting kind of conspicuously, they’re probably nesting. And if all of a sudden you see a whole bunch of birds getting up and flying off then you’ve already gotten a little bit too close.

David Newstead is an Environmental Biologist with Coastal Bend…Bays and Estuaries. He’s on next week’s Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Nesting is a critical period in the life cycle of the birds. Without a safe place to nest the overall population of coastal water birds will decline.

When people get a little bit too close to nesting birds that can have a pretty catastrophic effect on the nesting success of the birds. Getting too close can actually cause a panic reaction and scatter birds. When they move from the nest they are actually leaving those eggs and chicks completely exposed. And birds and chicks, they can’t thermo regulate very well at all so they rapidly overheat. And the eggs of course can’t thermo regulate at all. In this hot Texas heat, in the middle of nesting season, getting birds off of nests and chicks for just a couple of minutes can result in death or cooking of the eggs. They say you can cook an egg on the sidewalk, you’re basically cooking eggs on the island.

Check out the segment Guarding the Nest the week of July 8 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program support our Series.

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