Archive for the 'Hunting' Category

Dove Banding

Friday, August 31st, 2018
Dove banding.

Dove banding.

This is Passport to Texas

Among the methods Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Fish & Wildlife Service use to collect data on mourning doves is banding.

Banding is an incredible resource. It’s been around a long time. Originally it was a way to mark birds and see if those same birds came back to an area.

But that’s not how Texas Parks and Wildlife uses banding today, says Owen Fitzsimmons, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s web-less migratory game bird leader.

We can band a certain portion of the population; we can determine where they’re harvested, harvest ratios. We can look at age ratios, because when we band these birds when we capture them, we can age them, we can sex them, and we can determine some population demographic information.

All that information goes into the adaptive harvest management plan. If you harvest a banded dove this season—report it.

Yeah, it is critical that people do report that. So, when you are out dove hunting and you do harvest your birds, take a real close look at the legs, because they have small legs—these bands are small—and a lot of times people just miss them. You get to keep the band. The USGS bird banding lab will send you a certificate or email saying where the bird was banded and who banded it. And hopefully, everyone that does harvest a bird with a band will report it.

Report your banded dove at reportband.gov.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mourning Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest surveys in Texas.

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

Dove Data Collection

Thursday, August 30th, 2018
Opening Day of Dove Season.

Opening Day of Dove Season.

This is Passport to Texas

The US Fish & Wildlife service works with state wildlife agencies to survey dove. One method involves Texas Parks and Wildlife field staff driving set routes. Stopping at various points, getting out of the vehicle and documenting what they see and hear.

Along with that, we have our banding program, which is a nationwide banding program for mourning dove. But Fish & Wildlife Service also does a parts collection survey, which is where they send a random sample of hunters across the US envelopes, and they ask for wings from birds that they’ve harvested.

Owen Fitzsimmons, is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s web-less migratory game bird leader. Regarding the parts collection…

We compile all the wings, and later in the year we get as many people as we can to go through all the wings in a week or so. We call that a “wing bee” kind of like a spelling bee. And we can look at the wings, and you can tell whether they’re a hatch year bird—meaning they were hatched that year. Or, they were an after hatch year bird—meaning they were probably breeding adults. And based on that, we can get age ratios; we can tell what age ratio was harvested. How many young birds were harvested versus adult birds.

And how is this information used?

We gather all this information from surveys to banding to parts collection surveys. We look at it from every angle. That’s ultimately Fish & Wildlife Service does to set the population parameters and look at possible changes in bag limits and season lengths and things like that.

Tomorrow Dove banding.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mourning Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest surveys in Texas.

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

Dove Regulations

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018
Mourning dove striking a pose.

Mourning dove striking a pose.

This is Passport to Texas

Some dove hunters may be surprised to learn that Texas does not set the state’s dove season or its bag limits. That falls to the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

 And the do it by management unit.

Texas is in the central management unit, or flyway. Owen Fitzsimmons, is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s web-less migratory game bird leader, and says Texas still has a say in the process.

What they’ll do, is they’ll set a range of dates. And within that range we have a window, essentially. We have 90 days that we can set the season however we see fit within the state.

Texas controls where in that range of dates our dove season falls.

And we can split it once. But we don’t have any control over bag limits. We have limits on when we can start the season and when we can stop the season, and things like that. We have some leeway, but most of it is controlled by Fish and Wildlife Service.

Data collected in Texas assists the US Fish and Wildlife service when deciding seasons and bag limits.

We have our banding program, which is a nationwide banding program for mourning dove. But, Fish & Wildlife service also does a parts collection survey.

Parts collection surveys—that’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mourning Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest surveys in Texas.

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

Mourning Doves: Little Birds Big Business

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
Mourning dove on a fence post.

Mourning dove on a fence post.

This is Passport to Texas

Dove hunting is big business in Texas.

As far as mourning dove go, Texas harvests 35-40% of the mourning dove taken in the US every year. So, it’s a huge business, and it’s a huge sport for Texas. We have a little over 400,000 hunters per year.

Owen Fitzsimmons is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s web-less migratory game bird leader. Texas has a large breeding population of dove, but it’s a migratory species.

Mourning dove breed everywhere from Canada to Mexico to even farther down south. We have a definite large breeding population here, but come September—during hunting season—hunters not only go after our Texas birds, but we have birds coming in from northern states. So it’s kind of mix of resident and migratory birds as well.

Before hunting season biologists like Fitzsimons, work with the Fish & Wildlife Service to collect data on dove.

One survey that we do is called the “call count survey”. It takes place in May and June every year. In Texas, we have our Parks and Wildlife field staff doing the surveys. And essentially it’s a series of points along the map. And they stop at a point and then survey for a couple of minutes, they write down what they hear and what they see. And all that information goes back to Fish and Wildlife service, and they look at it—on a much larger scale than we do here in Texas. But we use that information as well just to track our own populations.

The dove season opener in the North Zone is September first. It’s September 14 in the South Zone.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mourning Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest surveys in Texas.

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

Early Teal Season 16 Days Long

Monday, August 27th, 2018
Blue-winged teal.

Blue-winged teal.

This is Passport to Texas

Early teal season provides waterfowlers an opportunity to harvest ducks before the regular season opener in November. Whether hunters get a nine day or sixteen day season depends on the birds.

If the breeding population is above 4.7 million, you’re allowed a 16 day, 6 bird [daily] bag limit season. If it’s below 4.7 and above 3 million, you have a nine day season. Anything below – I believe it’s 3 million – the season’s closed.

Kevin Kraai (CRY) is waterfowl program leader for the wildlife division of Texas Parks and Wildlife . It’s been a good year for teal.

We’ve had a sustained long-term wet period [this year]. And the blue wing teal have just responded favorably to that.

A 16 day season opens Saturday, September 15 and closes Sunday, September 30. Kevin Kraai says to make sure you’re prepared.

Each hunter has to be certified in the Harvest Information Program. Additionally, they will need to have a migratory game bird stamp, offered by the state of Texas. As well as a [federal] waterfowl duck stamp.

Find hunting information for all game species on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series. Through your purchases of hunting and fishing equipment, and motorboat fuels, over 40 million dollars in conservation efforts are funded in Texas each year.

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