Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

TPW Magazine — Texas Horned Lizard

Thursday, December 6th, 2018
Texas Horned Lizard

Texas Horned Lizard

This is Passport to Texas

With a flat, spiky body, the Horned Lizard has captivated the generations of Texans.

Everyone you meet, if you just mention horny toad, or horned lizard, they say” “Oh, I used to see those all the time when I was a kid; I would pick them up and put them into my pocket. But now I never see them. What happened to them”?

That’s a question editor Louie Bond addresses in an article for the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. To get answers, she travelled to the San Antonio Zoo to meet with director of conservation, Andy Gluesenkamp.

And he is raising horned lizards in hope of having babies in a few months, and putting them back into their historic habitats.

Which includes arid and semiarid habitats in open areas with sparse plant cover. This habitat’s been fragmented by development. But it still exists.

We’re actually tying into a whole other program at the agency, which comes from the mapping department. And we have this incredible interactive vegetative map of the whole state, broken into pretty small parcels of land. The biologists can look at the map and judge the habitat by a variety of criteria. So, they actually can rate each piece of land and make sure that it actually does have all the things that are needed there.

The horned lizard article by Louie Bond is as fascinating as the animal itself. Read this in-depth feature in the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. On newsstands now.

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

Food Week: Putting the Bite on Alligator

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Chef Jeff Martinez preparing Alligator Ancho Relleno.

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

Hunting alligator in Texas is an adrenaline pumping experience, but cooking it shouldn’t be. Chef Jeff Martinez of Austin whips up a Mexican inspired treat with alligator meat.

So, what I’ve done is I’ve taken the meat and I’ve ground it up in my food processor. And so what we’re going to do with this today is we’re going to make an alligator ancho chile relleno. I’ve got a hot pan here; we’re going to start by adding extra virgin olive oil in the bottom. We’re going to add our white onion which has been diced up. We’re going to add our garlic. Oh, I can smell it already; it’s already starting to smell good. Okay, so after that, we’re going to add our tomato. Now, we’re going to go ahead and add our alligator meat. It’s pretty much going to look the same as cooked chicken. And it doesn’t take very long. And that’s just about it. So, we’re going to add a little bit more flavor to this dish by throwing in some sliced green olives; and then we’re going to add some of these raisins, and we’re going to finish it off with slivered almonds that have been toasted. You see everything in there and it looks great. There’s a lot of color in there – a lot of color also means a lot of flavor. And then we’re going to finish it off with some fresh chopped parsley that’s going to add some freshness to the dish. And then to finish it off, we’re going to salt – just to taste. And we are ready to stuff some chiles.

See Chef Martinez in action, and find the complete recipe on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube Channel.

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

Where to see Bald Eagles

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Bald Eagle at Lake Texoma. Image by: Hilary Roberts

This is Passport to Texas

After nearly disappearing from most of the United States decades ago, the bald eagle is now flourishing. It was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007.

The symbol of our nation got its name from an old English word “piebald”—which means white faced.

You’ll find bald eagles in every state but Hawaii; the largest US concentration thrives in Alaska.

These impressive birds also spend time in the Central and East Texas. Want to see one?

You’ll have the best luck finding eagles on lakes and rivers during peak season, which is October through March. Start your search at a Texas State Park.

Visitors to Fairfield Lake State Park, southeast of Dallas consistently spot bald eagles. They’ve also been seen at Martin Creek Lake State Park, near Longview.

There’s a bald eagle nesting site at Lake Texana, 35 mi. northeast of Victoria. Visitors can see them from the viewing stand on the east side of the parking lot.

In Central Texas, folks often spot the birds around Lake Buchanan, which is 70 miles northwest of Austin.

If you see bald eagles this fall or winter, document your observation at the Texas Eagle Nest project on iNaturalist.org.

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

Hunting Alligators in Texas

Thursday, November 8th, 2018
American Alligator, photo TPWD

American Alligator, photo TPWD

This is Passport to Texas

It’s a hot muggy afternoon in the marshes of east Texas; and that’s where we find hunters on the trails of alligators at J.D. Murphree Wildlife management Area.

The area that we’re hunting in, it’s a vast bayou of swamps and marshes, with canals running through. The adrenaline rush is way more than deer hunting or anything else because you’re after something that can actually get you. /There’s one probably about 10 foot and two seven footers right up here. In about 150 yards we’re going to try and put a set. / Never been gator hunting before. You know you see ’em on TV. See the alligator shows. And, this is exactly what it looks like. / Our bait is chicken thigh quarters/ Those smell savory. /It’s savory; thats for sure. Mmmm./And we let ’em sit out in the sun for a day or two and it got quite ripe./Upwind is better than downwind when you get those things out. [distant laughter] I am amped up; adrenaline’s pumping, and then it’s on!/ Alligator hunting — it’s just not like anything else I’ve ever done. You know, there’s one on the line and you start pulling me in. I don’t know. You get anxious, you get excited. You get nervous.

The story continues on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube Channel. Find a link at passporttotexas.org. https://youtu.be/vPWtSs0iMBg

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

You Need Mussels to Make Pearls

Friday, October 26th, 2018
Washboard Mussel

Washboard Mussel

This is Passport to Texas

Though seemingly obscure, freshwater mussels play a vital role in a multi-million dollar industry.

There are at least 300 species of freshwater mussels in North America; Texas is home to more than 50 of those.
Freshwater mussel species are commercially harvested for their shells. Pieces of which become “seed material” for making cultured pearls.

More than 99% of all pearls sold worldwide are cultured.

Most freshwater mussel shells end up in Japan, Australia and Polynesia for the cultured pearl industry. Such a pearl begins with a polished sphere of North American freshwater mussel shell that’s surgically implanted into a marine oyster. The oyster identifies the object as an irritant, and begins to cover it with layers of iridescent mother-of-pearl. After about a year, it’s made a pearl.

Fifteen mussel species in Texas are listed as threatened at the state level. Six of those 15 species are now candidate for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Learn more about Texas freshwater mussels and get involved in Texas Mussel Watch on the Texas Nature Trackers page of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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