Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Landscaping for Wildlife

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Wildscapes are beautiful and beneficial.

This is Passport to Texas

Whether you have an apartment balcony or large backyard, you can take simple steps to help improve habitat for wildlife. It’s called “wildscaping.” Texas Parks and Wildlife provides online resources to help Texans begin landscaping their property for wildlife. And, really, you can start small. As small as a pot of native flowering plants.

The information can guide you with things like creating a humming-bird or butterfly garden; you can also find recommended plant lists for your part of the state.

Even a small patch of butterfly attracting flowers is a great way to start. Speaking from experience… there is nothing more magical than rolling up your driveway after work to see your garden alive with butterflies. Makes me smile every single time.

Essentially, what you’ll want to do is to provide food, water and shelter for the critters that come calling. And the more of this wildscape habitat that you provide, the more wildlife you’ll attract.

One of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s urban biologists, Kelly Simon, wrote an informative book on the subject, aptly titled: Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife.

Also check out the calendar section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for classes, tours and demonstrations featuring wildscapes.

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

Mule Deer Antler Restrictions

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
Mule deer at sunset.

Mule deer at sunset.

This is Passport to Texas

When Mule Deer season opens mid-November hunters must abide by antler restrictions on bucks in six counties in the southeast panhandle.

We’re using the same model as the white-tailed deer.

Restrictions implemented in the early 2000s in six east Texas counties for white-tailed bucks prevented hunters from taking very young animals from the landscape. The experiment saw an increase of bucks, and more natural buck age structure and sex ratios.

Shawn Gray is the state’s mule deer program leader. For white-tail bucks hunters use an inside spread restriction.

But, for mule deer—to protect the age classes that we want to protect, and to allow hunters harvest of the animals that we would like for them to harvest—instead of an inside spread, we’re going to use an outside spread of the main beam.

Which is ear tip to ear tip. There’s a 20-inch minimum restriction on the outside antler spread of the main beams on mule deer bucks.

And, we’re going to monitor that through voluntary check stations. Also, through our population surveys to see if we can improve our age structure of the buck segment of that population over there.

When hunting is not a factor, natural selection determines which bucks reach maturity. Antler restrictions on mule deer bucks are in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Motley, and Hall counties

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mule Deer management in Texas.

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

Same Day. Different Day. What?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018


This is Passport to Texas

Make plans to observe National Wildlife Day on February 22. Why tell you about it today? Well, until this year, we’ve observed it every September fourth for more than a dozen years.

That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate today. Just as every day should be Earth Day. Why not recognize every day as Wildlife Day? Think about it. What would your world look like if there were no birds, insects, furry animals, reptiles, amphibians and fishes? Sort of sad, right?

National Wildlife Day was founded by Colleen Paige, in memory of wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin—whom you may recall was The Crocodile Hunter. He died tragically on September 4th, 2006, when a stingray barb pierced his heart. Paige changed the date to his birthday: February 22.

National Wildlife Day fosters global awareness of endangered animals, and the need for conservation and preservation.

Whether you recognize National Wildlife Day on February 22 or today, you can observe it by visiting zoos where biologists work to save endangered species like the Houston Toad and Horned lizard. Or by simply meandering along a Texas Wildlife trail counting the animals you see.

Some funding for preservation of the horned lizard and Houston toad comes from the sale of the horned lizard conservation license plate.

Learn more about endangered and threatened species on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

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

Cool Cats — Bobcats Roaming Urban Areas

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018
A large and lovely bobcat.

A large and lovely bobcat.

This is Passport to Texas

Bobcats thrive in urban areas of Texas. Twice as large as domestic cats, this relative of the lynx is secretive.

If someone comes across a bobcat, take a moment to enjoy the opportunity that you see this secretive, shy animal.

Richard Heilbrun is the conservation outreach leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

We did an urban bobcat research project in Dallas-Fort Worth, and we had high numbers of bobcats thriving in the Trinity River corridor, because there’s good, functioning, healthy, ecosystem.

Urban bobcats perform an ecosystem function that most folks don’t realize.

We just completed a research project on diet of urban bobcats in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by looking at their scat. Which is their droppings. And, it looks like urban bobcats in that area, rely on rodents for about 65 percent of their diet. If you tease apart the data just a little bit more, fifty percent of their diet is non-native urban rats. So, they’re really performing an ecosystem function for us by consuming these rats that, biologically, shouldn’t be there anyway. So, we’re taking a negative—these nonnative rats—and we’re feeding them to a native predator that should be there, and is adding value to our ecosystem.

Learn more about urban wildlife on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds research on the ecology of urban bobcats in DFW.

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

Urban Bobcats–Big Kitties in the Cities

Monday, August 20th, 2018
Bobcats serve an ecosystem function.

Bobcats serve an ecosystem function.

This is Passport to Texas

You might be surprised to learn that wildlife is all around. Even in large Texas cities.

Bobcats thrive very well in urban areas. They’re extraordinarily adaptive.

Richard Heilbrun is the conservation outreach leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says bobcats can find everything they need to survive in cities.

And so they will use the greenbelts and the city parks and the rivers and the creeks that run through our cities as travel corridors. And in those habitats, those greenbelts, they’ll find the rats and the snakes and the mice and the birds necessary for them to thrive.

It’s rare to see an urban bobcat. But it does happen; when it does, Richard says reactions vary.

People have all sorts of reactions to bobcats. Some are excited. Some are worried. Some are nervous for the bobcat. Some think that it wound up there by mistake. And other people are afraid, because they don’t know how bobcats act. And so they’re coming to us with a wide range of questions, preconception, or ideas about outcomes that they think should happen. And we get to help them navigate whatever reaction they have into a solution that’s good for the bobcat and good for the people.

What you should know about urban bobcats. That’s tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series and funds research on the ecology of urban bobcats in DFW.

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