Described as being as prolific as cockroaches, destructive as rats, and as surly as badgers, wild (feral) hogs are the bane of ranchers and farmers, but they’re a boon for hunters. Nearly three million of these dirt slingin’ critters roam free in Texas, rooting up pastures, wallowing in creek beds, and gorging themselves on crops and gardens. Trappers and hunters often are called in to help reduce hog numbers when feral swine run amuck.
For nearly a year, a team of commercial swine and show pig producers, slaughter plant operators, veterinarians, hunters, hog trappers and wildlife biologists have wrestled with rule ideas that would prevent captured wild hogs from creating more chaos, while still giving hunters an opportunity to bag a boar trophy worth bragging rites.
In mid-May, draft regulations were presented to commissioners for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency. Public comment on the proposed rules, to be published in the Texas Register June 6, will be accepted by the TAHC through July 6. TAHC commissioners will consider the rules for adoption at their next meeting on July 29 in Austin. Continue reading
A wild turkey crashed through a window in the Lubbock County Courthouse on Monday, prompting thoughts of a courthouse shooting and leaving a cartoon-like hole in the glass.
“It was like a boom and the glass shattered,” said Baldemar Hernandez, who was attending a child-support hearing on the building’s fourth floor when the bird made its unwelcome appearance. “I thought, Somebody’s shooting at us.’ “
The hole in the window looked like something from a Looney Toon – a turkey-shaped whole in the glass. Continue reading
A new public hunting opportunity for newcomers, the Mentored Hunting Permit (MHP), will launch this fall. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the new hunter recruitment initiative at its May 22 public meeting. The program provides limited opportunities for people interested in participating in a multi-day hunter recruitment workshop on a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife management area (WMA).
Participation will be by reservation, on a first-come, first-served basis, and the fee for the Mentored Hunting Permit will be $25.
The mentored hunting workshop will focus on teaching hunting skills, safety, ethics, game processing and preparation, elements of habitat management, and provide guidance and advice for hunting activities in the future. As part of the workshop, participants would be offered the opportunity to take part in a mentored hunt accompanied by an experienced hunter on the WMA. At this time, mentored hunts for dove, squirrel, and other small game, waterfowl, and feral hog are being considered for the workshops. Continue reading
Get ready for deer season now! Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is now accepting applications for Landowner Assisted Management Permitting System (LAMPS) antlerless deer permits for the 2008-2009 hunting season. The LAMPS program was initiated in 1993 to offer East Texas landowners and hunters additional opportunities for harvesting antlerless deer.
Many counties in East Texas allow the harvest of antlerless deer “by permit only,” or during a few select “doe days.” However, LAMPS permits allow antlerless deer to be hunted the entire general gun season with minimal reporting requirements. Continue reading
The famed wide-open spaces of Texas are under siege, threatened by ever-expanding suburban development and fragmenting into ever-smaller pieces as people in cities buy up land in the country. The good news is conservation-minded landowners stand as bastions against these trends, places like Llano Springs Ranch south of Junction, which on May 21 received the Leopold Conservation Award for Texas from Sand County Foundation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, part of the department’s Lone Star Land Steward Awards program.
Every year, TPWD and Sand County Foundation recognize private land stewards in 10 ecological regions across the state, as well as the Leopold Conservation Award winner. For the fourth year, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards benefit from an association with Sand County Foundation, an international non-profit organization devoted to private landowner conservation. Ecoregion award recipients and the wildlife management association recipient receive $1,000 from the foundation, while the Leopold Conservation Award recipient receives $10,000 and the Leopold crystal. The purpose is to recognize outstanding examples of voluntary stewardship.
“I’m proud that we’ve taken a ranch that had been neglected for many years and turned it into something to be proud of, and we’ve done it ourselves,” said Tom M. Vandivier, part of the five-generation farm and ranch family which owns the 5,100-acre spread in Edwards County. He works the first part of the week as an attorney near Austin, then on Thursdays heads to the ranch and works all weekend.
“Whoever dreamed up this idea for land steward awards is right on target with what’s going on in ranching these days,” Vandivier said. “It’s a great motivator. When we learned about this, it got us motivated to do more. We’re thrilled to have won.”
The ranch contains the headwaters of the South Llano River, which flows into the Colorado. Years of work to remove water-sucking cedar and restore water-friendly native grasses are benefiting everything downriver, including thirsty cities like Austin. Land with restored grasses instead of cedar and rocks holds rainwater like a giant sponge, releasing it slowly and providing natural filtration. This helps aquifer recharge and prevents erosion, sending cleaner water downstream. Continue reading
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has created new web pages that provide a clickable statewide map and detailed local maps for dozens of wildlife management associations or co-ops across the state: Wildlife Associations. The main page states:
“Wildlife professionals believe that the greatest threats to wildlife in Texas are habitat loss and fragmentation due to population growth and changing land uses. One promising solution to these problems comes through the efforts of landowners working together to conserve and enhance their land for the benefit of wildlife.”
The new pages also allow web users to sort wildlife management associations in lists by county and by name. Each co-op Web page lists a contact name and phone number and shows a county-level map delineating the geographic boundary within which the organization works. The main page also links to the TPWD brochure “A Guide for Wildlife Management Associations and Co-ops.” The pages were developed in a collaborative effort involving the Wildlife, State Parks and Communications divisions.
Over 500 people attended the Ty Patterson Memorial Scholarship fundraiser in Seguin this past Saturday evening. Game Warden Patterson died in the line of duty almost a year ago when he drowned while trying to recover a flood victim in the Paluxy River. Congressman Henry Cuellar spoke and presented a flag to the Patterson family.
Representative Edmund Kuempel also spoke and handled auctioneering, and Rep. Charlie Geren also attended. The event raised funds for a scholarship program to help young people who reside in the Seguin area pursue law enforcement careers.
Donations can be made by mailing checks made out to TGWA, with a notation that it’s for the Ty Patterson Memorial Scholarship to the Texas Game Warden Association, P.O. Box 1930, Kyle TX 78640.