Monthly Archives: April 2008

Great Plains Rat Snake

Great Plains Rat Snake

The Great Plains Rat Snake (Elaphe guttata emoryi) has large brown blotches on a gray background. Adult snakes, which are typically smaller than the Texas Rat Snake, are 3 to 4 feet long.

This snake feeds on rodents and birds.

Great Plains Rat SnakeGreat Plains Rat SnakeGreat Plains Rat Snake

Scoring Your Wild Turkey

Score your wild turkey

Ok, so you bagged a turkey! Congratulations! Often times, turkey hunters often wonder how their trophy stacks up against other turkeys. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has an official wild turkey records program.

According to the NWTF, the purpose of the program is to provide hunters throughout the world with a permanent record keeping system that will preserve information on all legally harvested wild turkey taken in the spirit of fair chase.

The records are maintained for Eastern, Florida, Rio Grande, and Merriam’s subspecies. The Eastern subspecies is found in Tennessee. Weight, beard length, and spur length are considered to determine a total score for wild turkeys. Continue reading

Remember: Leave Wild Animals Alone!

Wild animals can attack!

It’s spring time, and that means it’s time to remind everyone that feeding wildlife, whether directly or indirectly, is never a good idea. Wildlife encounters often increase with the availability of food, and feeding can result in an attack, injury, damaged property and often the death of the animal.

“When there are conflicts between humans and wild animals, the animals lose,” said Eric Loft, Chief, DFG Wildlife Branch. “Don’t feed wild animals. They don’t need our handouts, they need our respect. We should all take responsibility for the wild animals whose habitat we share. When humans are careless, wild animals usually pay the price.”

Native wild animals have natural instincts about what, when and where they should eat. Those that become accustomed to being fed may become dependent on human generosity and expand their activities to get more food from people. These animals can damage fences and structures, become pests and threaten human safety in the process. Continue reading

Texas State Parks Still Offer Free Fishing

Texas State Parks offer free fishing

In Texas, fishing and warmer weather go together like chips and salsa. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wants those already “hooked” on fishing and newcomers to the sport to keep in mind that Texas state park waters offer ideal and economical spots for pursuing the family-friendly sport.

This year marks the fifth year of the Free Fishing in State Parks program that waives fishing license and stamp requirements within more than 50 Texas state parks. To capitalize on the program, which has been extended through Aug. 31, 2008, a dozen state parks are hosting “Free Fishing in State Parks” events where participants learn fishing skills, angling rules and regulations, have a chance to hook a fish and perhaps win door prizes such as rods and reels. Continue reading

Black Bears on the Move in Texas!

Black bear are moving across the border and into Texas

In the dim light before dawn, it’s hard to tell what that dark shape is under the feeder 100 yards from your hunting blind. It’s probably a feral hog stealing corn you bought for deer to supplement native forage. But make a positive identification before you pull the trigger; that hog-like shape could be a black bear.

Black bears were almost gone in Texas by the end of World War II because of unregulated hunting and habitat loss. However, a small resident and reproducing black bear population now exists in Texas and it is slowly expanding its range. Continue reading

Dragonflying is the New Birding

Dragonflying is catching on

The birding industry has established universal appeal, but birds and butterflies are not the only winged migrants to attract a crowd. Dragonflies and damselflies are gaining popularity among wildlife enthusiasts, and southern Texas is home to 93 species, making it one of the most biologically diverse regions in the United States.

The ninth annual Dragonfly Days weekend is a chance to see why dragonflying is becoming as popular as birding in some places. The event takes place in Weslaco May 15-18 and is sponsored by the Estero Llano Grande State Park World Birding Center site near Weslaco and the Valley Nature Center. Continue reading

Anthrax Confirmed in Del Rio Goat

Anthrax found in a dead goat

The anthrax season near Del Rio started a little early this year, with a case confirmed March 31 in a five-year-old male goat. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) is advising owners in the area to vaccinate livestock to prevent additional death losses.

“Usually we see cases of anthrax occurring in summer when the temperatures rise, but this spring has been quite warm. Anthrax occurs worldwide, but in Texas, cases are typically found in a triangle bounded by Uvalde, Ozona and Eagle Pass, which takes in portions of Crockett, Val Verde, Sutton, Edwards, Kinney, Uvalde and Maverick counties,” said Dr. Hillman, Texas’ state veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal Health Commission, the state’s regulatory agency for livestock and poultry health.

Dr. Hillman explained that anthrax bacteria lies dormant in the ground, and germination is triggered by appropriate moisture and warmth. As the bacteria migrates to the surface, it contaminates grass and soil, where it is picked up by grazing animals. Because anthrax bacteria generall does not migrate in the ground, contamination in a large pasture may be limited to
only a small area. Continue reading