Archive for the 'Threatened' Category

TPW TV – Owls Underground

Friday, July 29th, 2016
Burrowing Owl

Hey! Outta my burrow, you skunk!

This is Passport to Texas

Birds don’t get much cuter than the burrowing owl. And you won’t have to stay up past your bedtime to see one.

One of the great things about these owls is [unlike most owls] they’re out during the day; they’re active day and night.

The week of July 31, get to know this small sandy colored owl with long legs during a segment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Alan Fisher produced a story that looks at how this species, threatened and endangered in some part of North America, survives its dwindling habitat in El Paso.

So, they’re a species of concern here because of habitat loss. Burrowing owls don’t tend to dig their own burrows from scratch. They will occupy burrows left from prairie dogs or ground squirrels or other burrowing animals. So, as those animals get pushed out burrowing owls lose their habitat as well.

Fisher also talks with Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Lois Balin, who creates artificial owl nest borrows fitted with video surveillance systems.

Having the cameras underground, gives the biologists a lot of new tools. It’s pretty awesome.

Not surprisingly, says Fisher, the cameras are revealing much about the hidden lives of burrowing owls, from the number of eggs and nestlings, to prey items, and even visitors.

The skunk discovery is the rather astonishing discovery. Skunks are going into the burrows and occupying them, and in some cases preying on the owls.

To find out how the burrowing owls fare, tune into the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS the week of July 31. Check your local listings.

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

Revisiting Paddlefish in Big Cypress Bayou

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
Paddlefish at hatchery, photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service

Paddlefish at hatchery, photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service

This is Passport to Texas

Paddlefish, once abundant in the Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake, started disappearing following construction of a dam at Lake of the Pines in the late 1950s.

07- So, basically, it took away the flows that the paddlefish need, and it took away their spawning substrate; eventually paddlefish just went away.

Inland fisheries’ Tim Bister says in spring 2014 a broad coalition of non-profits, landowners, and government agencies, reintroduced paddlefish into the system. But they first made improvements to benefit the rare species, including development of natural water releases upstream from Lake of the Pines, and gravel bar spawning areas.

14-We stocked 47 paddlefish, a year and a half old, between two and three feet long. And each were implanted with a radio transmitter, with a specific radio frequency that could be identified by a radio receiver.

Researchers tracked the paddlefish to see whether they would swim downstream over the spillway at Caddo Lake, and into Louisiana.

12-[If they did], they wouldn’t be able to swim back upstream because of that barrier. So, we wanted to make sure, by tracking these paddlefish, to see if they’re going to stay in the system. And after a year, I’m happy to say, that no fish were seen going over the spillway.

The radio transmitter batteries are fading, but the data collected so far is promising. Until the paddlefish reach reproductive maturity, we won’t know if we’ll see a self-sustaining population in Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Supports our series.

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

Conservation: Conservation Detection Dogs

Monday, November 10th, 2014
Alice Whitelaw and Tia, inspecting boats for zebra mussels in California

Alice Whitelaw and Tia, inspecting boats for zebra mussels in California

This is Passport to Texas

Most dogs like to work. And Pete Coppolillo is hiring. He is Executive Director of Working Dogs for Conservation in Bozeman, Montana. Since the mid-1990s, his organization’s trained dogs as a non-invasive alternative method for collecting data on hard to find wildlife.

05—By non-invasive, I mean we don’t have to capture them, we don’t have to handle them, we don’t even have to see them.

Then, just how are researchers using dogs?

06—So, the idea is we train a dog to find their scat, usually, which to non-biologists is a polite word for poop.

By detecting scat, the dogs help researchers determine the range, sex, and diet (among other things) of certain wildlife species. Pete said they first trained dogs to sniff out grizzly bear and wolf scat, but didn’t stop there.

28—Dogs can do everything from scat to live animal work to invasive weeds. Even invertebrates, like Emerald Ash Borer; they can find their larvae or their eggs. And, [we] even [use the dogs to detect] aquatic invasives like zebra and quagga mussels – to inspect boats. Because, the mussels can be in cracks, or inside, where a visual inspection can’t see them. Or the dogs can even detect the veligers, which are microscopic larvae that we can’t see.

Not all dogs are suited to this work. Learn more about these dogs at Working Dogs for Conservation.

More on that tomorrow. The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series and funds diverse conservation projects in Texas.

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

Endangered: Recovery Implementaion Program

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The Edwards Aquifer

RIP: Eye on Nature Newsletter

Eye on Nature

This is Passport to Texas

The Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program, or RIP, protects endangered and threatened species in the Edwards Aquifer.

Many of these species are no more than an inch long. The Comal springs riffle beetle is even smaller…only two millimeters long.

But Texas parks and Wildlife water resources branch chief, Cindy Loeffler, says preserving the species is crucial to the ecosystem.

16 — These are, you know, you’ve heard the cliché canary in the coal mine. If we want to truly protect natural resources, fish and wildlife, these unique ecosystems. These species are indicators of the health of those ecosystems.

Loeffler also says if the program protects the identified species, it will most likely save many more in the process.

16 — We have some species that there’s very little known about. And these are in a way the tip of the iceberg of the threatened and endangered species that are found associated with the Edwards Aquifer. There are many more species that are not listed that are found nowhere else.

Many of these species — like the San Marcos blind salamander and Texas wild rice — are found nowhere else in the world…. And pumping water from the Edwards Aquifer alters the habitat, putting these species in an unstable environment.

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

The Wildlife and sport fish restoration program supports our series and celebrates 75 years of funding diverse conservation projects throughout Texas… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Guadalupe Bass Restoration, 1

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Sport Fish Restoration Program

Biologists at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center in Kerrville for the past thirteen years have worked to reestablish the Guadalupe Bass, which had experienced a significant population decline.

It has two different problems it’s facing throughout its range. One is just habitat loss – which a lot of animals face. Here, and in most of the places it occurs, that’s not nearly as much of a problem as hybridization with the smallmouth bass.

Dr. Gary Garrett is a fisheries biologist at Heart of the Hills. The Guadalupe bass occurs only in the Texas Hill Country, in the headwaters of the streams that drain the Edwards Plateau. Smallmouth bass, introduced to these waters in the mid-1970s to provide additional sport fish for anglers, hybridized with the native species.

So, they’re not as well adapted for their environment. They may do well in the short run, but in the long haul they’re really not going to be as good a species.

Efforts to restore the Guadalupe bass population began with a study of Johnson Creek.

Here in Johnson Creek where we began the study, we started with about thirty percent of the fish were hybrids –and that wasn’t stable – it was still increasing when we started.

The prognosis for the state fish of Texas is excellent. And we’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

That’s our show for today…supported by the Sport Fish Restoration program, which funds research at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center…

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti