Archive for the 'Research' Category

Humble Fish Garners New Appreciation

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019
Fishing for catfish is a family affaire.

Fishing for catfish is a family affaire.

This is Passport to Texas

Nobody will dispute that largemouth bass is the favorite sport fish among Texas anglers.

Today in Texas about 50% of our anglers say they prefer largemouth bass.

Yet, Dave Terre, chief of inland fisheries research and management, says largemouth bass has an unlikely rival.

About 20 percent of anglers prefer fishing catfish in Texas.

The humble catfish is gaining in popularity. That’s because unlike largemouth bass, catfish are better able to survive and thrive when water levels—and dissolved oxygen levels—are low, such as during drought.

We’re trying to study catfish more intensively to determine how we can make fishing for catfish even better.

Texas Parks and Wildlife developed a management to guide the future of this sport fish in Texas.

Most people in Texas – when they think of a fish, they think of a catfish. I think that’s the honest truth. Bass get more notoriety, but catfish are very important and I think a perfect fish to start new anglers on fishing, and to get a new generation of Texas interested in fishing.

Three of ten species of catfish in Texas provide important fishing opportunities to anglers: Channel, Blue, and Flathead. Find the Catfish Management Plan on the TPW website..

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series and funds fisheries research in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wild Turkeys Making Comeback

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
Wild turkey in Palo Duro

Wild turkey in Palo Duro

This is Passport to Texas

Unregulated hunting and loss of habitat nearly caused Turkeys to disappear from Texas. Jason Hardin, Turkey Program Leader at TPW, says thanks to hunter and landowner support, bag limits and a restocking program, they’re making a comeback.

In Texas, we’ve been working hard since the 1930s and 40s to put turkeys back on the landscape in Texas. We’ve been tremendously successful with the Rio Grande—500 to 600-thousand birds in the state today. But with the Eastern sub-species, we haven’t been as successful.

Nevertheless, TPW and its partners continued eastern turkey restoration efforts in the state.

In 1979, we brought our first eastern wild turkeys over from Louisiana—put them in Tyler County—they did pretty good. In 1987, we worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation, their Making Tracks program. We started working with lots of states, bringing turkeys into east Texas. Using what we referred to at the time, using a block stocking approach.

That involved releasing 15 – 20 birds at five to 10 locations in a county; they’d work in that county for two years, and then move to the next.

During the latter part of that block stocking era—mid-nineties, Dr. Raul Lopez was doing some research, and he found that we were doing two things that he thought we could improve on: we could put larger number of birds on the ground—increase that up to 70 or 80 [birds]; he referred to it as super stocking.

The second area for improvement was the habitat into which they released the birds. More on that tomorrow.

The Wildlife Restoration Program Supports our Series.

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

NOTE: Find our 30 minute podcast on turkey conservation, turkey calling and cooking wild turkey when you visit Under the Texas Sky.org

TPW TV–Green Jay Study in Rio Grande Valley

Thursday, April 11th, 2019
Green Jay

Green Jay

This is Passport to Texas

A new study in South Texas focuses on the Green Jay.

We don’t know a lot about green jays, first of all, so it’s important to know what they’re doing, if we want to be able to manage for them, and we want to manage for them because we have a lot of birdwatchers that come into the Valley and one of the species that they really want to see are green jays.

Tony Henehan is a Wildlife Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Green Jay occurs from South America, north to Texas.

The Rio Grande Valley is, I think, the third fastest growing urban area in the country. It’s expanding at a rapid rate. A lot of urbanization, a lot of habitat change is going on, and so these birds have been able to adapt to a certain extent.

To understand how Green Jays are adapting to the rapidly changing environment of The Valley, Tony plans to trap, tag and track up to ten birds a year. RGV resident, Donna McCowan let Tony place a trap in her backyard.

Well, Tony brought this cage to me about a week and a half ago and had me set it up here under the shade. With the cage door open we were putting corn and peanuts in it, so the birds would get used to it and just assume it’s supposed to be there, and they had no problem with getting in and out of it. This morning, we’re going close the top of it and watch and wait for the birds to show up.

Find out if Tony and Donna trapped a Green Jay when you watch the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS the week of April 14.

The Wildlife Restoration Program Supports our Series.

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

Identifying Good Horned Lizard Habitat

Thursday, March 21st, 2019
Horned lizard

Horned lizard

This is Passport to Texas

Urbanization and invasive species are two impacts that’ve led to the decline of the iconic Texas horned lizard. The San Antonio Zoo plans to eventually release lizards from its captive breeding program into the wild.

Management is the first step in this process.

Andy Gluesenkamp is Director of Conservation at the zoo. He says he and his staff will consider environmental factors before releasing lizards onto a property.

One is: are they within the historic range of the species. Two is: are there horned lizards there now? This is a really important question. Because if there are horned lizards on that property, then that’s really a matter of managing existing populations. And I tell landowners that they are much better off than having to try and start anew and establish a population where one doesn’t exist. Other criteria are the size of the parcel; is there enough habitat for the lizards that—if we get a population established—that it will not just persist. The idea for them is to metastasize out into other habitat. And so, we’re putting lizards back onto the landscape, and not just on parcels of the landscape.

Andy Gluesenkamp says he uses high-resolution satellite-based maps from the Texas Parks and Wildlife GIS department to help assess whether areas have quality habitat for newly minted lizards.

We receive support in part from RAM Trucks: Built to Serve

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

San Antonio Zoo’s Horned Lizard “Factory”

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
HORNED LIZARD

Texas Horned Lizard

This is Passport to Texas

The horned lizard, or horny toad, is a charismatic creature and beloved by Texans of a certain age.

Mostly people my age. So, anyone that wasn’t around in the eighties probably hasn’t seen a horned lizard in the wild.

That’s Dr. Andy Gluesenkamp, Director of Conservation at San Antonio Zoo. Let’s just say he’s not a millennial. Andy heads up a horned lizard breeding program at the zoo, which is where I visited him in early October of last year.

We are in the main room of the conservation center. And if you look around the walls, there are rack after rack of ten-gallon aquariums. Each one with a Texas horned lizard in it. And this is what I like to call the beginning of our horned lizard factory.

You might wonder why we need a horned lizard factory—or breeding program—for the Texas State Reptile. Truth is: the little critters are getting scarce.

Although horned lizards are still doing really well in parts of their range, they’ve disappeared from about a third of their range in Texas. And that just so happens to be that portion of Texas where most Texans live.

Urbanization and the introduction of non-native grasses impact horned lizard populations. Andy Gluesenkamp says once lizards reach maturity, they will be released into areas that can support them.

We receive support in part from RAM Trucks: built to serve.

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