Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Landscaping for the Birds

Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

Working on a wildscape in San Antonio.

This is Passport to Texas

Putting out feeders is one way to attract wildlife to your yard. A better way is to create a wildscape.

What a wildscape is, is landscaping for wildlife.

Ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford, says this includes native plants that provide food and shelter; most urban yards, however, traded native habitat for lawns.

So, any little help you can [give] by putting in a wildscape really helps. And even if you don’t have a yard, you can do a wildscape on your patio with pots. I have seen hummingbirds go up to the 6th floor balcony of condos where someone has showy plants that say, “hummingbird come up here.”

A variety of berry and nectar producing plants will draw wildlife to your yard—or balcony.

You want to always stick to natives because they’re acclimated to the soil and the weather and the rainfall that you’re going to give them. And then, you want to make sure that they have some value to wildlife: that they’re going to give you the nectar to attract butterflies; they’re going to have berries at the right time when the cedar waxwings come, and so forth.

Fall is the best time to plant native trees, woody shrubs and perennial flowering plants. Find a list of native species that do well in your area on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

Texas Brigades Inspire Careers

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

Bobwhite Brigade Cadets. Image: Texasbrigades.org

This is Passport to Texas

To categorize the Texas Brigades as “summer camp” is like calling a mountain lion “a kitty cat”.

This is not a normal summer camp. This is meant to be a lot more than that.

Writer, Aubry Buzek wrote a story about the Brigades for the October  issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The editor of the magazine said, I want you to go to this summer camp and write about it. And I was thinking: Okay. There’s going to be fun stuff happening; I get there and it’s in the middle of a session on how conservation groups work in Texas….and conservation and hunters ethics. And I was like, Whoa!

The 5-day, cell-phone free, camps for youth build confidence and camaraderie with projects, public speaking and debates on conservation issues.

There are some really amazing instructors who come to this camp. There are instructors there who are wildlife biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife, other private hunting ranches, water control authorities…just the gambit of [conservation] organizations in Texas. The kids get to meet people not easily accessible. Every instructor that I talked to said that they want these kids to pick up the phone and keep in touch with them. They want to help them grow now and into the future.

Aubry Buzek’s story on the Texas Brigades appears in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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

TPW Magazine — Texas Brigades

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

Learning conservation with Texas Brigades.

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Brigades is a wildlife and natural resource focused leadership development program for youth, 13 to 17.

Texas Brigades has been around for 25 years. It started out as Bobwhite Brigade back in 1993, and then it just kind of morphed.

It’s morphed into is eight summer camps, each with a different conservation focus. Aubry Buzek [Byu-zik] wrote about the Brigades for the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

What was really interesting is that these camps are not necessarily about learning about one particular species. At Bobwhite Brigade, they were learning a lot about quail—and they had biologists there teaching them about quail. But that wasn’t the overall goal of the program. It was about being comfortable with public speaking, comfortable talking with their peers. Debating.

These five-day intensive camps incorporate military marching and cadence, and introduce students to experts and activities that challenge and

I talked to a lot of parents after graduation and they were like, ‘Who is this kid?’ I saw it too. That confidence. A lot of parents said they didn’t expect their kid to know just so much. But, in addition to that knowledge, these kids are loud, and they’re marching, and they make a lot of friends. It really is a transformative camp.

Read Aubry Buzek’s story about the Texas Brigades in the October issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

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

Hard Work Pays off for the Kemp’s Ridley

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
Four newly hatched Kemp's ridley sea turtles crawl on the beaches of Padre Island National Seashore as they are released into the wild. NPS Photo.

Four newly hatched Kemp’s ridley sea turtles crawl on the beaches of Padre Island National Seashore as they are released into the wild.
NPS Photo.

This is Passport to Texas

Since 1970 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles have been on the endangered species list. The NPS, TPW and other partners developed a plan to assist their recovery, including the creation of a secondary nesting site [the primary being in Mexico] at the Padre Island National Seashore [PINS].

The numbers are moving in the right direction, but we’re not up to the milestones that are outlined in the recovery plan to even down list the species to threatened, much less to get it off the list entirely.

Dr. Donna Shaver oversees sea turtle science and recovery at Padre Island National Seashore. Dr. Shaver says this year’s annual survey identified 352 nests—from Galveston down to Mexico.

We’ve had more found at PINS and more found in the state of Texas this year than in the last two years combined. So, we’re very excited about it.

Decades of conservation are paying off, or are we just getting better at finding sea the turtle nests?

We do think that we’re seeing an actual significant increase compared to when I started and only one nest would be found every two or three years. And now, here to find more than 300 in Texas during a year, is a big accomplishment for conservation and recovery of the species.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series, and funds diverse conservation projects throughout Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Ways we Protect the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017
A loggerhead turtle escapes from a trawl net equipped with a turtle excluder device (TED). Image courtesy of NOAA.

A loggerhead turtle escapes from a trawl net equipped with a turtle excluder device (TED). Image courtesy of NOAA.

This is Passport to Texas

Nature ebbs and flows. A good example is the critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle. Conservation groups implemented a recovery plan that facilitated exponential growth of the animal’s population.

The population modelers had predicted that exponential increase in the recovery plan would continue – but it did not. So, the expectations written in the plan are not exactly what the population has done.

Even so, Dr. Donna Shaver says the numbers are moving in the right direction. She oversees sea turtle science and recovery at Padre Island National Seashore. One thing that’s helped them is the mandatory turtle excluder devices used by shrimpers.

Turtle excluder devices were developed to shunt sea turtles out of the next while retaining shrimp in the shrimping net. And they’ve been very effective in doing that.

Seasonal area closures have also benefited the turtles.

Texas Parks and Wildlife instituted one when they revised their shrimp fishery management plan close to 20 years ago – taking into account, of course, the responsibilities to help manage the shrimping industry as well as endangered species.

Tomorrow: hard work pays off for the Kemp’s Ridley.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series, and funds diverse conservation projects throughout Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti