Archive for the 'Research' Category

TPW TV: Fox Finders

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018
Fox Finders of TPW TV Series on PBS

Fox Finders of TPW TV Series on PBS

This is Passport to Texas

The swift fox is one of the smallest species of the wild dog family in North America.

We’re working with Texas Parks and Wildlife to survey for swift foxes in a nine county area in the Texas Panhandle that falls within the historic distribution for this species.

Doni Schwalm is a research associate at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. The Texas Parks and Wildlife TV Series follows Schwalm and her team for a segment on swift fox airing this week on PBS.

This species, from what we can tell from historic records was almost gone. We know for sure there has been a big decline historically. About 50 percent of their historic distribution now no longer has swift foxes, and where they do still exist, the population is kind of patchy and so it’s not very continuous. We think that the first and foremost thing that led to these major population declines were historic predator control programs where they were poisoning, kind of indiscriminately for wolves mostly and really just anything, and unfortunately those baits, they’re not specific. And we ended up with a lot fewer foxes that way. Of course they like grassland habitat. The more agricultural development there is, especially just like irrigated farmland, the fewer swift foxes there will be. And finally, primarily because there are no more wolves, there are way more coyotes than there used to be, and coyotes are their highest source of mortality, up to 77 percent of their mortality, so it’s a pretty big deal.

The segment Fox Finders is airing now on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Re-homed on the Range

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
Pronghorn capture and release.

Pronghorn capture and release.

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist, Shawn Gray, stays busy most days in his role as Texas Parks and Wildlife pronghorn and mule deer program leader in the Trans Pecos.

I get to oversee the management and research for the two species for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

This includes orchestrating the restoration of these species to their native range. Last year, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department successfully relocated 109 pronghorn.

Our surplus populations are located in the Northwest and Northeast Panhandle. We take animals from healthy populations there to boost our local populations in the Trans Pecos that have in recent years seen historic decline.

Texas Parks and Wildlife worked with partners to redistribute the animals.

Translocation has been one of the management tools we’ve been able to do to help those populations rebound. There’s a whole suite of things that we do to improve populations. And, of course, we always need help from Mother Nature to make all those things work for us.

Drought was a leading factor in the pronghorn’s decline in the Trans Pecos, but Gray says the reasons are more complex than that alone. After trapping the animals, each received a health checkup; some were fitted with radio collars.

Through time and our management practices, the populations have been responding well.

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

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

Texas Brigades Inspire Careers

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

This is Passport to Texas

To categorize the Texas Brigades as “summer camp” is like calling a mountain lion “a kitty cat”.

This is not a normal summer camp. This is meant to be a lot more than that.

Writer, Aubry Buzek wrote a story about the Brigades for the October  issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The editor of the magazine said, I want you to go to this summer camp and write about it. And I was thinking: Okay. There’s going to be fun stuff happening; I get there and it’s in the middle of a session on how conservation groups work in Texas….and conservation and hunters ethics. And I was like, Whoa!

The 5-day, cell-phone free, camps for youth build confidence and camaraderie with projects, public speaking and debates on conservation issues.

There are some really amazing instructors who come to this camp. There are instructors there who are wildlife biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife, other private hunting ranches, water control authorities…just the gambit of [conservation] organizations in Texas. The kids get to meet people not easily accessible. Every instructor that I talked to said that they want these kids to pick up the phone and keep in touch with them. They want to help them grow now and into the future.

Aubry Buzek’s story on the Texas Brigades appears in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

A Fungus is Finally Among Us

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017
Locations where fungus detected.

Locations where fungus detected.

This is Passport to Texas

The fungus that causes White nose Syndrome, a disease that affects hibernating bats was detected for the first time in Texas earlier this year. Texas Parks and Wildlife mammologist, Jonah Evans says it may have been present for up to a year…

… but at levels too low to detect. So, when you look at the maps of the spread of the fungus across the united States, those maps are always going to be behind where the disease actually is.

Researchers discovered six caves in six Panhandle counties with the fungus.

These are locations where we had previously identified as the most likely for the fungus to turn up first. And sure enough, it did. And so, we had expected to see the disease and the fungus to slowly move across Oklahoma towards Texas. For me, personally, it was a bit of a surprise to have it suddenly one year we go there and it’s all over the place.

For the past six years, the caves in question have come up clean when surveyed.

Likely, it came in at extremely low levels first, and slowly spread. And then, one winter’s worth of growth of the fungus in all of these sites suddenly put it over that threshold where we are now able to detect it.

Find more information on White Nose Syndrome in bats, and decontamination protocol if you go caving, on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Citizen Scientists Take Biological Inventories

Monday, March 21st, 2016
Getting up close and personal with Texas critters.

Getting up close and personal with Texas critters.


This is Passport to Texas

With the help of biological inventory teams of citizen scientists, Texas Parks and Wildlife monitors plants… herps…

Which are the amphibians and reptiles…

…birds and invertebrates…

…and that would mainly be: butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, bumblebees and such….

…in Texas’ 8 wildlife districts; Biologist Marsha May oversees the program. She says she’s recruiting experts statewide to join these monitoring teams.

Mostly, we’re looking at hobbyists; people who have joined herp societies. They know their herps. As well as birders. There’re people involved in Audubon Society that know their birds. So those are the types of people [as well as those with expertise in native plants and invertebrates] that we’re looking for, for these projects.

These biological inventory teams will monitor species on private land.

So, my plan is to start with organizing teams throughout the state. And once we get good, solid teams in place, then we’re going to go out there and open it up to the landowners, and let them know that these teams are available to come and do surveys on their property.

Knowing what’s on the land helps landowners become better stewards. Find out how to volunteer when you log visit the Nature Trackers page on the TPW website.

Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.