Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Wildlife and the Law of Attraction

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

On which side of the fence do you imagine you will find more wildlife?

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat requirements vary between species, yet some critters make themselves at home anywhere.

Wildlife are really adaptable, and there’s going to be some wildlife that thrive in whatever type of habitat that’s provided.

Kelly Simon (SEE-mah) is an urban wildlife biologist. Even a perfectly manicured monochromatic monoculture known as lawn—will attract some wildlife.

In a typical urban area—where you’ve got really closely mowed Bermuda grass lawn, or St. Augustine lawn, and then just a few really tall mature trees and kind of nothing in the middle? That kind of habitat is really good for grackles, and pigeons, for possum and raccoon, and kind of the species that you see in a disturbed habitat.

Simon says most people don’t mind seeing those species sometimes, but not all the time.

And so what we try to do is to encourage people to create a more balanced habitat. And what I mean by that is to provide native plants that provide natural food sources—fruits, nuts, berries, leaves, etcetera—that provide a balanced source of nutrition for the animals.

This balanced habitat is called a wildscape. Find wildscape information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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.

If You Could Talk to the Animals

Monday, March 12th, 2018
Bobcats serve an ecosystem function.

Bobcats are attracted to delicious sounds.

This is Passport to Texas

Kissing the palm of your hand sounds like what a kid might do to practice for their first lip lock. But it’s also useful for attracting wildlife…the four legged variety.

I can do that to a bobcat that’s sitting out there behind a bush at a hundred yards, and it’ll start him towards me almost immediately. It just sounds delicious.

Gerald Stewart is a consultant for Johnny Stewart wildlife calls. Gerald’s dad, Johnny, created the business, which featured recorded animal sounds.

Dad realized early on in the development of the business, that these sounds could be used by quite a wide variety of people. Photographers, nature lovers, bird watchers, hunters, researchers, or people that just want to simply show their grandkids the eyes of a raccoon coming through the grass at night…just for the joy of being able to see something wild, literally a few feet away from them.

Screech owls are common in residential neighborhoods, and are a good animal to call when you’re with children.

It’s easier to call screech owls with children around. Screech owls are a gregarious little bird, very social. And will put up with human presence. After a minute or two of being there, humans can just start talking and milling around and the little screech owl just sits in the tree.

Learn about native wildlife by logging onto the Texas Parks and Wildlife web site.

That’s our show for today. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Compete in the City Nature Challenge

Friday, February 23rd, 2018
Cities taking part in 2018 City Nature Challenge.

Cities taking part in 2018 City Nature Challenge.

This is Passport to Texas

Document local flora and fauna when you participant in the Worldwide 2018 City Nature Challenge, April 27-30.

Each city will have a leader; that leader will bring in partners [like the city, county or environmental organization]. And they will ask participants to do bioblitzes within that city. A bioblitz is where you collect data on all the plants and the animals throughout the area.

Marsha May is a biologist and Austin area challenge coordinator. Teams from six continents will upload their observations to iNaturalist.org in an attempt to document more species than their competitors.

Then all that data is collected in iNaturalist, and it will be evaluated a week after the challenge is over, and a winner will be announced.

Experts from various fields will verify the data. No prizes will be given to winners, but they will get bragging rights, and a chance to help researchers.

We have many species in Texas that are species of greatest conservation need. And when we do these biolblitzes, oftentimes those species are identified within that project. And those species are very important for us to know where they’re located, and how many there are out there. And this is just a way that citizens help quite a bit.

For more details on the 2018 City Nature Challenge, April 27—30th go to citynaturechallenge.org.

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

City Nature Challenge

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018
Photo: iNaturalist.org

Photo: iNaturalist.org

This is Passport to Texas

Game for some friendly competition? Then join teams from 60 cities, on six continents, to compete during the City Nature Challenge—April 27-30th. Teams will attempt to document more plant and animal species in their regions than competitors in other regions.

And we are using a format called iNaturalist, which is a real easy way of collecting data. All you have to do is take pictures of things. You don’t even have to know what it is.

Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist and Austin area challenge coordinator, Marsha May, says they need more experts to help verify data.

Professionals. People who know their plants. People who know their insects. Their invertebrates. Any of these organisms, to help us verify the data. You don’t have to live in any of the regions. Go to iNaturalist—especially those who use it regularly—because we need to get the data verified for it to count towards the contest.

Seven regions in Texas are hosting teams. Find them on the Nature Trackers page of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

It would be a good idea in advance, if people would check out iNaturalist.org. And join iNaturalist and see what it’s all about—practice it. And then when the time comes, they would just join the project as they’re collecting their data.

How the City Nature Challenge works… tomorrow.

That’s our show for today… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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