Archive for the 'Wildlife' 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.

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.

Bat Flights at Kickapoo Caverns State Park

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Enjoying the nightly fight of bats at Kickapoo Caverns State Park.

This is Passport to Texas

One of the least understood, but most fascinating, mammals in Texas is the Mexican free tail bat.

Most of us know of this small, brown flying animal because of the bat bridge in downtown Austin, which boasts the largest urban bat colony in North America.

The bats arrive in March, and through late summer, as the sun goes down, up to 1.5 million of them spiral into the darkening sky, heading east to farmers fields for their fill of insect pests. Their nightly emergence draws hundreds of spectators.

No less impressive—but in a more picturesque setting—is a colony of up to a million Mexican free tail bats that come to roost each spring at Stuart Bat Cave at Kickapoo Cavern State Park near Bracketville.
The bats migrate to the cave in mid-March, and usually stay through the end of October. Bat flights are stunning, and with an entrance permit, visitors can experience the majesty of their nightly emergence.

From time-to-time, visitors have remarked that a bat flew into them, bounced off and kept flying…on their way to dinner…with no harm done.

Find more information about Kickapoo Caverns State Park and Stuart Bat cave at Texasstateparks.org.

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

Borderland Ecology

Friday, July 13th, 2018
Mother Black Bear and cub in Big bend National Park.

Mother Black Bear and cub in Big Bend National Park.

This is Passport to Texas

Smiley Nava served as borderlands biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife before retiring. His job involved understanding and developing conservation strategies for the natural resources along the shared border between Texas and Mexico.

We have ecosystems; we have natural resources that we share between Mexico and the state of Texas. We’re talking about an area that is a little over 12-hundred miles in length – from El Paso, Ciudad Juarez – to the mouth of the Rio Grand. And that’s all inclusive of the area that is my project.

Nava identified local, state and governmental partners in Mexico to join this mission. During his tenure, Nava said one border city, in particular, lead the way.

The City of Nuevo Laredo, they have an ecological department. It’s a sub directoria de la ecología – as it’s called — subdirectory of ecology. They make sure that there’s conservation implemented… if they’re clearing out trees that they’re replanted with native vegetation. And they’re very proactive… They’re setting the example and showing their other cities along the border how this can work and be beneficial.

Learn more about Borderlands Ecology and other conservation topics on the Texas parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Wildlife Ignores Borders

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Big Bend National Park. On the border.

This is Passport to Texas

Borders are political demarcations, conceived of by man. Nature, meanwhile, knows no such boundaries.

The boundary to Texas and the United States doesn’t stop midway in the Rio Grande. It goes all the way to the Mexican side as far as the resources are concerned.

Smiley Nava retired from Texas Parks and Wildlife where he served as its borderlands biologist. His work focused on the natural resources along the 12-hundred mile border shared between Texas and Mexico.

We are specifically looking at the state natural resources that we share with our four Mexican states. We’re right at around fifty percent of the US/Mexico border, so Texas is an important component of those shared resources.

The area Smiley oversaw is diverse.

The Tamaulipan scrub land is one of the provinces that are prominent for a good part of our border that we share with Mexico. The other part, the upper basin of the Rio Grande, as you move inland, is more typical of the Chihuahuan desert. So the species utilize those, what natural resources and components we share with Mexico in those regions, kind of drive where we’re trying to focus our work.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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