Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

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.
[W-190-R-1]

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.

TPW Magazine — Texas Horned Lizard

Thursday, December 6th, 2018
Texas Horned Lizard

Texas Horned Lizard

This is Passport to Texas

With a flat, spiky body, the Horned Lizard has captivated the generations of Texans.

Everyone you meet, if you just mention horny toad, or horned lizard, they say” “Oh, I used to see those all the time when I was a kid; I would pick them up and put them into my pocket. But now I never see them. What happened to them”?

That’s a question editor Louie Bond addresses in an article for the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. To get answers, she travelled to the San Antonio Zoo to meet with director of conservation, Andy Gluesenkamp.

And he is raising horned lizards in hope of having babies in a few months, and putting them back into their historic habitats.

Which includes arid and semiarid habitats in open areas with sparse plant cover. This habitat’s been fragmented by development. But it still exists.

We’re actually tying into a whole other program at the agency, which comes from the mapping department. And we have this incredible interactive vegetative map of the whole state, broken into pretty small parcels of land. The biologists can look at the map and judge the habitat by a variety of criteria. So, they actually can rate each piece of land and make sure that it actually does have all the things that are needed there.

The horned lizard article by Louie Bond is as fascinating as the animal itself. Read this in-depth feature in the December issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. On newsstands now.

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

Food Week: Putting the Bite on Alligator

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Chef Jeff Martinez preparing Alligator Ancho Relleno.

This is Passport to Texas Food Week

Hunting alligator in Texas is an adrenaline pumping experience, but cooking it shouldn’t be. Chef Jeff Martinez of Austin whips up a Mexican inspired treat with alligator meat.

So, what I’ve done is I’ve taken the meat and I’ve ground it up in my food processor. And so what we’re going to do with this today is we’re going to make an alligator ancho chile relleno. I’ve got a hot pan here; we’re going to start by adding extra virgin olive oil in the bottom. We’re going to add our white onion which has been diced up. We’re going to add our garlic. Oh, I can smell it already; it’s already starting to smell good. Okay, so after that, we’re going to add our tomato. Now, we’re going to go ahead and add our alligator meat. It’s pretty much going to look the same as cooked chicken. And it doesn’t take very long. And that’s just about it. So, we’re going to add a little bit more flavor to this dish by throwing in some sliced green olives; and then we’re going to add some of these raisins, and we’re going to finish it off with slivered almonds that have been toasted. You see everything in there and it looks great. There’s a lot of color in there – a lot of color also means a lot of flavor. And then we’re going to finish it off with some fresh chopped parsley that’s going to add some freshness to the dish. And then to finish it off, we’re going to salt – just to taste. And we are ready to stuff some chiles.

See Chef Martinez in action, and find the complete recipe on the Texas Parks and Wildlife YouTube Channel.

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

Where to see Bald Eagles

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Bald Eagle at Lake Texoma. Image by: Hilary Roberts

This is Passport to Texas

After nearly disappearing from most of the United States decades ago, the bald eagle is now flourishing. It was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007.

The symbol of our nation got its name from an old English word “piebald”—which means white faced.

You’ll find bald eagles in every state but Hawaii; the largest US concentration thrives in Alaska.

These impressive birds also spend time in the Central and East Texas. Want to see one?

You’ll have the best luck finding eagles on lakes and rivers during peak season, which is October through March. Start your search at a Texas State Park.

Visitors to Fairfield Lake State Park, southeast of Dallas consistently spot bald eagles. They’ve also been seen at Martin Creek Lake State Park, near Longview.

There’s a bald eagle nesting site at Lake Texana, 35 mi. northeast of Victoria. Visitors can see them from the viewing stand on the east side of the parking lot.

In Central Texas, folks often spot the birds around Lake Buchanan, which is 70 miles northwest of Austin.

If you see bald eagles this fall or winter, document your observation at the Texas Eagle Nest project on iNaturalist.org.

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