Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

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.

Pronghorn Restoration and Rural Economy

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
Pronghorn Antelope

Pronghorn Antelope

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist Shawn Gray finds pronghorns fascinating, and hopes you will, too.

The pronghorn is a unique mammal of North America; it’s the only one found in its family. It’s the fastest mammal in North America. It’s a big game species.

Gray is the pronghorn program leader and oversees the Pronghorn Restoration Project. Because it’s is a game species, hunting them should pick up as their population grows, thus benefitting local communities.

In 2008, we issued probably like 800 buck only hunting permits. And, shoot, in 2009 or 10, we were issuing less than 100. And there’s a lot to that. Not only is it the money that they get for trespass access for hunting, but the hunters come into the local communities and spend time and spend money. So, there’s a lot of those economic impacts as well with a much reduced pronghorn population out here.

The Trans-Pecos pronghorn population dipped below 3K in 2012, and Gray says through translocation and natural reproduction, they hope to see the number rise to 10K.

Most of the local communities in the Trans-Pecos really miss the pronghorn. And they really want to see pronghorn back on the landscape at numbers that they are used to seeing.

With the continued success of the restoration project, they may get their wish.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds pronghorn restoration in Texas.

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

Re-homed on the Range

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
Pronghorn capture and release.

Pronghorn capture and release.

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist, Shawn Gray, stays busy most days in his role as Texas Parks and Wildlife pronghorn and mule deer program leader in the Trans Pecos.

I get to oversee the management and research for the two species for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

This includes orchestrating the restoration of these species to their native range. Last year, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department successfully relocated 109 pronghorn.

Our surplus populations are located in the Northwest and Northeast Panhandle. We take animals from healthy populations there to boost our local populations in the Trans Pecos that have in recent years seen historic decline.

Texas Parks and Wildlife worked with partners to redistribute the animals.

Translocation has been one of the management tools we’ve been able to do to help those populations rebound. There’s a whole suite of things that we do to improve populations. And, of course, we always need help from Mother Nature to make all those things work for us.

Drought was a leading factor in the pronghorn’s decline in the Trans Pecos, but Gray says the reasons are more complex than that alone. After trapping the animals, each received a health checkup; some were fitted with radio collars.

Through time and our management practices, the populations have been responding well.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds pronghorn restoration in Texas.

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