Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

TPW Magazine: Wind and Wildlife

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Pensacal wind farm and avian radar.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas is the number-one wind energy state; but what’s the effect of wind farms on bats and birds? Writer Russel Roe addresses this matter in an article for the March issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The stakes are high when it comes to wind and wildlife, especially as you consider that Texas has the largest population of bats in the world and the nation’s highest diversity of bird species.

Although clean, renewable wind energy offers benefits to the environment, you’ll learn in Roe’s article that it does so at the cost to wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of birds and bats die annually, their fates sealed when they fly into the turning blades of gargantuan turbines.

Bats are hardest hit—no pun intended. With more than twice the number of fatalities than birds.

Roe writes that wind companies and conservation groups agree that responsible siting of wind turbines away from areas with high wildlife activity is a key first step to reducing the problem. TPWD is working on its own set of wind energy guidelines and hopes to release them sometime in 2019.

Meanwhile, read Russel Roe’s article about Wind and Wildlife in the March issue of Texas parks and Wildlife Magazine. You’ll also learn about research on ultrasonic acoustic deterrents that reduced bat fatalities by 46 percent.

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

Becoming a Texas Master Naturalist

Thursday, January 17th, 2019
Photo from the Texas Master Naturalist Facebook Page

Photo from the Texas Master Naturalist Facebook Page

This is Passport to Texas

There’s a training program for people with a passion for nature. It’s called the Texas Master Naturalist Program.

The Texas Master Naturalist Program is a volunteer based training program; we develop a corps of well-informed volunteers that provide education, outreach and service around the state in the beneficial management of natural resources and the natural areas within Texas.

Mary Pearl Meuth (MOYT) is the program’s coordinator. They train roughly 700 volunteers annually, and have training sessions annually.

Our curriculum that is used for the training, has 26 chapters in it. So, they march through those 26 chapters all with a large context of the state of Texas, but then developed even more within their local ecosystem.

Once trained, volunteers provide 40 hours of community outreach, and take 8 hours of advanced training annually. The program’s not just about taking or facilitating classes. It’s also about discovery.

Quite a few of our Master Naturalists have identified new species of plants or new species of animals located within the state of Texas.

Are you ready to help Mother Nature, and to make a name for yourself – or a new species? The Texas Master Naturalist program can help. Find a training session at

That’s our show…brought to you in part by RAM Trucks. Built to Serve.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Don’t Get Caught in the Wild Web

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Items discovered and confiscated during a Wild Web investigation.

This is Passport to Texas

Operation Wild Web involves Texas Game Wardens patrolling the internet to uncover the illegal sale and exploitation of wildlife resources.

Wild Web is an operation that we run periodically in different parts of the state. And we try to saturate a certain area and try to do as many investigations or cases as we can of things being sold illegally online.

Captain Josh Koenig oversees the Game Warden’s Special Ops Criminal Investigations Division. Wardens discover a wide array of illegal wildlife resources online.

That might be anywhere from fish to live white-tailed deer, to stuff that’s been imported illegally, or something that might be threatened or endangered…Anything sold illegally online, we try to focus on.

This illegal activity is global and lucrative.

In the United States, and even in the world, wildlife trafficking is second only to drugs. So, wildlife trafficking, whether it be live animals or even dead animals and animal parts, is a very big problem. [Cecilia] I am shocked that wildlife trafficking—alive or dead—is only second after drugs. How can that be? [Captain] When here’s money behind it, people will go after it. There’s a lot of money, it’s a lucrative business, to get into the wildlife trade.

I meant to ask him about my lucky rabbit’s foot. Oh well.

That’s our show, brought to you in part by Ram Trucks… built to serve.

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

Wild Dogs in the City

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

A study of urban coyotes is underway.

This is Passport to Texas

Coyotes are widespread throughout Texas.

In any county, in any city, in any suburb—there’re going to be a few coyotes.

Texas Parks and Wildlife urban wildlife biologist Kelly Simon says we have abundant data on rural coyotes, but less on urban coyotes.

In urban areas they act a little differently. And so, we’re hoping to get an idea of not only the home ranges, for example, but also what prey items they might consume, and also what they might show us about the toxins that might be in the environment.

Toxins such as poisons we use to kill rats—primary prey of coyotes. TPWD is undertaking a year-long study of urban coyotes with Huston Tillotson University in Austin.

So, one of the things that the students at Huston Tillotson are looking at are the presence of toxins in the blood of the coyote, as well as in the fur and the footpads of the coyote.

Students trap, test and place radio collars on the animals.

So, we have the traps monitored with a device that sends out a text message and lets us know that an animal has been snared. Our goal is to get to the trap within 30 minutes, so the animal is immobilized for no more than 30 minutes in the field.

Better data means improved management strategies. This spring, we’ll follow students and teachers into the field as they work with the coyotes, and feature their work on our new podcast Under the Texas Sky.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Why Did the Ocelot Cross the Road…

Friday, December 28th, 2018
Endangered Ocelot

Endangered Ocelot

This is Passport to Texas

Roads provide convenient travel to work, school and home for humans—but not for wildlife.

You have habitat loss. And then that physical road can act as a barrier to wildlife. It can impact habitat connectivity. Which, then, in turn can impact genetic transfer of information between populations, and weaken the genetic background for a species.

Laura Zebehazy, program leader for Wildlife Habitat Assessment, studies the impacts of roadways on wildlife, known as road ecology.

Basically, it is where biologists, engineers, landscape architects… try to evaluate the impacts that road infrastructure has on wildlife habitat connectivity, air pollution, noise pollution, and try to find solutions to alleviate those impacts from that type of development.

Endangered ocelots that live in Rio Grande Valley brush country have died on SH 100. TxDOT, in consultation with US Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife, completed four wildlife underpasses along this popular route to South Padre Island.

To allow ocelot and any other wildlife in the area to move under the road between the Bahia Grande to the south, and the Port of Brownsville area up north towards Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

With wildlife cameras in place, TxDOT will collect data on these solutions and adjust as necessary to save this (and other) rare species.

The Wildlife restoration Program supports our series. [WL.W136M8]

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