Archive for the 'Research' 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.

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.

Managing Coastal Fisheries

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
Sea Center Texas

Sea Center Texas

This is Passport to Texas

Coastal fishing is one of Texas’ most popular recreational activities, and its future depends on quality management. That’s where Texas Parks and Wildlife comes in.

Fisheries biologists and technicians are responsible for direct management of the resource. This entails getting fish into the water through hatchery efforts of breeding, raising and stocking fish.

Just as important: educating the public. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Outreach, Education and Communications teams take the lead there. It’s vital to help people to understand the value of the marine life and habitat.

Whether you live on the coast or are visiting, a trip to Sea Center Texas fish hatchery and Visitor Center in Lake Jackson can help you on your road to understanding. At the hatchery they breed red drum, spotted seatrout and southern flounder for stock enhancement. The Visitor’s Center focuses on the importance of environmental stewardship. There’s something for the whole family.

The goal of the center is to instill in the public a deep understanding of and appreciation for the role they play in the improvement and enhancement of our marine resources.

Find more information about coastal fisheries and Sea Center Texas on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series.

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

TPW TV – Return of the Guadalupe Bass

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Fishing for Guadalupe bass in the South Llano River

This is Passport to Texas

Courtney and Brandon Robinson love to fly-fish for Guadalupe Bass in the South Llano River.

[Courtney] We’re not looking at a whole lot of deep pools, it’s more shallow water, skinny water.
[Brandon] Fish on! This is why I love catching Guad’s, their little fish, but they use the river to fight!
[Courtney] Um so we’re gonna see little bass in the shoal’s area like in that little rapids area over there. Oh, there we go!

The state fish of Texas wasn’t always easy to catch. It was on the brink of disappearing from the South Llano, due to introduced Small Mouth Bass that crossbred with the native Guadalupe for decades!

They can breed with each other and what results is what we call a hybrid, and those fish, they’re not our pure native Guadalupe bass, so we’re trying to restore these populations throughout the state.
We’re stocking large numbers of these pure fingerlings, and what the goal is these pure fish outnumber the Hybrids and so we reduce that overall hybridization rate and get it back to where we have almost an entirely pure population of Guadalupe Bass.

But the data shows the Guadalupe Bass are back.

We’ve been working on the Guadalupe Bass here in the Texas Hill country for about twenty-five years, and been really successful in restoring these populations in these iconic Texas hill country streams, and now we have Guadalupe Bass in a lot more reaches of these streams here for people to enjoy!

Reel in an eyeful of Guadalupe bass the week of September 23 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV show on PBS.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series.

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

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.