Archive for the 'Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program' Category

Netting Songbirds for Research

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018
Golden-Cheeked Warbler

Golden-Cheeked Warbler

This is Passport to Texas

Mist-nets are tools used by ornithologists and biologists that allow them to trap birds, to collect information. The data helps them to understand and manage species.

The net’s mesh is so fine that it doesn’t even register as a barrier, and so birds end up flying directly into it. While they become entangled, they rarely sustain injuries.

Once entrapped, biologists take special care to gently extract their feathery captives, and waste no time identifying the species, its sex and its estimated age. Biologists do not handle the birds more than is necessary.

When researchers employ mist-nets, it’s often so they can trap birds for banding. They may target threatened and endangered birds like the golden-cheeked warbler. The hope is that at some future time, another scientist will capture the previously banded bird and gather more data, such as where it came from and where it’s traveled along its life’s journey.

Mist-netting by Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists takes place throughout the year on wildlife management areas and in some state parks. From time to time, the bird-loving public is invited to participate in the process.

Keep an eagle eye on the calendar section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for these and other opportunities to join biologists in the field.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series, and provides funding for the operations and management of Texas’ Wildlife Management Areas.

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

Talkin’ Turkey via Wildlife Restoration

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
Turkey release.

Turkey release.

This is Passport to Texas

In the 1930s, it became evident that certain game animals were in decline due, in part, to unregulated overharvest.

In 1937, the Federal Government passed the Pittman-Robertson Act, thus creating an excise tax on the purchase of ammunition and hunting equipment.

Today, millions of dollars of funds generated by these taxes are used to manage and restore both game and non-game species.

One of Texas’ ongoing restoration projects involves the eastern wild turkey. Historically, the species occupied nearly 30 million acres in eastern Texas, but unregulated overharvest of both turkeys and timber led to their near extinction from that region. In 1942 there were fewer than 100 eastern wild turkeys remaining.

From 1979 to 2003, Texas parks and Wildlife Department translocated an estimated 7,000 wild-captured birds into 58 counties in central and east Texas, eventually seeing the population climb to 10,000–which is slow progress.

In 2014 the agency began a “Super Stocking” initiative, translocating 80 eastern turkey at a time at selected sites. Production and survival of the birds has vastly improved with this method. Thus, creating a brighter future for this big bird in Texas.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series and provides support for the translocation and surveying of eastern wild turkey.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti

Sharing is Caring Concerning Pollinators

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018
#TXPollinators

#TXPollinators

This is Passport to Texas

Love bugs? Then participate in the Pollinator BioBlitz, October 5 – 21.

[We have] two goals in mind: to increase awareness about pollinators, and about the habitat that they require.

Johnnie Smith is with Texas Parks and Wildlife. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, moths and other critters that move pollen while foraging.

If you participate in the pollinator bio-blitz, you’re going to have an opportunity to observe pollinators at a site that you visit, like your local zoo or aquarium or nature center. And observe the pollinators that are there. Grab a picture of the pollinators you find, and you can post them onto Instagram. We’re asking all of the participants to use the hashtag #TXpollinators.

Post findings, on iNaturalist.org. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s website, has pages dedicated to the Pollinator Bioblitz.

Where people can learn what pollinators might be in their area. Links to what might be blooming in your area right now—that’s hosted out of the Wildflower center—and then also, to be aware of habitat you have that supports pollinators. And if you don’t have habitat in or near your home, school library… We’re encouraging people to try and get organized in planting pollinator habitat.

The Pollinator BioBlitz is October 5 through 21.

The Wildlife restoration Program supports our series.

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

Help an Icon with Habitat

Monday, October 1st, 2018
monarchs

Monarchs enjoying a respite before moving on.

This is Passport to Texas

Habitat loss along its migration route may be one reason the Monarch butterfly is in decline. While feeding on nectar, Monarchs pollinate wildflowers along their route, which benefits our ecosystem.

There are two primary ways that habitat supports pollinators.

Johnnie Smith is with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

And one [way] is, the adult pollinators oftentimes feed on nectar of flowers. So, flowering plants that are a food source for the pollinator is very important. But also, is the food source that the pollinator’s larvae rely on as they’re growing up and becoming an adult. And so, that is just as important as the flowering plants that support the adults.

For Monarchs, native milkweed is an important plant. By cultivating them in our yards, along with other nectar and larval plants, we can all play a part in their survival.

There is no effort that is too small to be counted worthy. And there’s no spot of land that is too small to contain pollinator habitat. So, we really want to empower everybody—tht they can make a difference. Right where you stand. Right where you live—you can crate pollinator habitat, and help turn around this negative trend with the monarchs.

Tomorrow: the Pollinator Bioblitz, an event to build awareness to help all pollinators.

The Wildlife Restoration Program supports our series.

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.