Archive for the 'Endangered' Category

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

The Making of an Endangered Species

Monday, August 28th, 2017
Donna Shaver, chief of the Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Program at Padre Island National Seashore, releases Kemp's ridleys hatchlings onto the beach. Photo: New York Times.

Donna Shaver, chief of the Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Program at Padre Island National Seashore, releases Kemp’s ridleys hatchlings onto the beach. Photo: New York Times.

This is Passport to Texas

The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is the world’s most critically endangered sea turtle.

And most nesting in the US by this species occurs in Texas.

Although a native nester in Texas, their primary nesting beach is in Mexico. Dr. Donna Shaver oversees sea turtle science and recovery at Padre Island National Seashore.

The National Park Service along with Texas Parks and Wildlife and other partners had been working since the 1970s to form a secondary nesting colony of endangered Kemp’s Ridley Turtles right here at Padre national Seashore.

They developed the secondary site as a safeguard against potential extinction and other catastrophes. Their population was nearly decimated in the 1940s.

The biggest threats over time – the largescale taking of the eggs from the nesting beach in Mexico. They were sold in markets as a supposed aphrodisiac. There was also loss of nesting turtles taken for food and then also the skin to make leather products. Then, though time, the loss of juveniles and adults incidental to fisheries operations; primarily shrimp trawling, but also some hook and line captures and other types of fisheries.

How we’ve protected Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles in Texas tomorrow.

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

Assisted Living: Attwater’s Prairie Chickens

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
Baby Attwater's Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

Baby Attwater’s Prairie Chickens At Fossil Rim

This is Passport to Texas

We all need help sometimes. And in the case of the endangered Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, they’re getting it in the form of captive breeding programs, including one at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose.

Adding birds from the captive breeding program has allowed us to keep birds in the wild. Without the captive breeding program this species, undoubtedly, would have been extinct by now.

Biologists estimate there are fewer than 100 Attwater’s Prairie Chickens in existence today. Mike Morrow is a wildlife biologist at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake. The juvenile prairie chickens at Fossil rim are color banded and radio collared in preparation for release onto the refuge.

How many other species can we watch go extinct, before it starts making a difference the ability of the world to support us as a human species.

Juvenile birds take a long ride to the refuge and are kept in an outdoor enclosure until they’ve acclimated to their new habitat. After two weeks in their pen, they’re released onto the refuge.

Biologist Morrow says he knows not all the birds they release will survive, but those that do, represent the future. He says Texas Parks and Wildlife and partners will continue to build the population with wild birds. And that’s where he says we place the hope for the recovery of the species.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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

Most Endangered Bird in North America

Monday, February 20th, 2017
Attwater's Prairie Chicken

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

This is Passport to Texas

The most endangered bird in North America is a chicken. No, it’s not your ordinary farmyard fowl. It’s the extraordinary Attwater’s Prairie Chicken—a species unique to Texas coastal prairies. Yet, over the past two decades fewer than 100 individuals have been reported in the wild.

For a species that only lives on average two years—that’s a very bad place to be.

Mike Morrow is a wildlife biologist at the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake. He works with biologist Rebecca Chisholm.

You know, they’re [prairie chickens] an endangered species all over the rest of the country and the world. But this one here, lives only in Texas.

The birds are part of our natural heritage. At the refuge, Morrow and Chisholm work together to give the Prairie Chicken a chance at survival, which includes building predator deterrent fences around nest sites.

The idea of this predator deterrent fence Is to deflect predators away from the nest area so that hopefully they won’t find the nest and destroy it.

The fence doubles the chance of survival for the hens and chicks. And when there are fewer than 100 members in a population, you take those odds.

Working with—arguably the most endangered bird in North America—has its ups and downs. I mean, sometimes, it’s a little bit disappointing. Things don’t go quite as well as you want, but it’s also rewarding when things do. So I think everyone would agree that it’s worth it.

Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

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