Monthly Archives: June 2008

Conservation Camps Take Place in Davis Mountains

Wildlife Conservation Camp in Davis Mountains

Several members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife Division staff will be in the Trans-Pecos this week to support a weeklong youth camp run by the Texas chapter of The Wildlife Society (TCTWS). Misty Sumner will act as camp director and be a presenter at the TCTWS Wildlife Conservation Camp at the Davis Mountains Preserve. Biologists Matt Wagner and Ruben Cantu, who is TCTWS president this year, will also attend a Texas chapter committee meeting.

The Wildlife Society, founded in 1937, is an international, non-profit scientific and educational organization serving and representing wildlife professionals, with goals to promote wildlife stewardship through science and education. The Texas chapter was formed in 1965, with efforts designed to involve resource professionals and stimulate involvement by all concerned individuals.

The chapter’s next annual meeting comes up February 26-29, 2009 in Lubbock, Texas. See the chapter Web site for more information on the meeting and ongoing activities.

Milam County Game Warden Catches Dumpers

Milam County, Texas

The Temple newspaper recently reported that five people caught on hidden camera dumping everything from furniture to dead animals, auto parts, and colostomy bags over the past three years into a creek ravine east of Gause, Texas, have been charged with misdemeanors and are headed for Milam County court.

The paper said Precinct 3 Constable Herbie Vaughan and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Mike Mitchell have been attempting to catch the perpetrators of the remote, rural dump ground for three years, before finally deciding to buy motion-activated wildlife surveillance equipment and stake out the site via hidden cameras. And that’s how you catch criminals now days!

Workshop to Explore Wind Power Development and Effects on Wildlife

Wind Power and wildlife

With the Panhandle targeted for increased wind power development, many landowners already have signed or are considering signing contracts with energy companies. But questions remain, especially about wildlife.

The Panhandle Wind and Wildlife Conference on Aug. 8-9 at the Ambassador Hotel in Amarillo is aimed at answering some of those questions. The event is being organized by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Wildlife Association.

Ken Cearley, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist, said Texas leads the nation in wind power development according to the American Wind Energy Association’s rankings report.

The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Taylor and Nolan counties was the single largest wind farm in operation in the nation in 2007, Cearley said. With four of the five largest U.S. wind farms now located in Texas, it is necessary to study the impact on wildlife. Continue reading

More Bears Means an Increase in Encounters

A Black Bear in Del Rio, Texas

With the number of black bears in Val Verde County, Texas, on the rise, expect more interactions between bears and people, one state biologist says. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife Biologist Sylvestre Sorola earlier this week helped capture and relocate a young male black bear that wandered into a residential neighborhood in south Del Rio.

Sorola said encounters like the one earlier this week are possible now because black bears are re-colonizing traditional ranges in south and west Texas, areas from which black bears were extirpated in the mid-20th century.

The biologist said that sightings in Val Verde County began to rise in the 1980s and said those bears probably came to the area from thriving black bear populations in the Sierras del Carmen and the Sierras del Burro, the mountains in northern Coahuila that contain the distinctive “Sleeping Lady” formation west of Del Rio. Sorola said the bears from northern Mexico first established breeding populations in Big Bend National Park in far west Texas and have also returned to the Trans-Pecos, including Val Verde County. Continue reading

Texas State Parks Looking Better!

Texas State Parks

With gasoline and airfare prices soaring, many families may be planning summer vacations closer to home this year. One high-value, low-cost option is Texas State Parks, which are “getting better all the time” thanks to increased funding provided by state lawmakers and voters.

The 80th Texas Legislature passed House Bills 1 and 12, providing an additional $25.6 million for state park operations during the 2008-09 biennium. Lawmakers also appropriated roughly $69 million in bond authority to fund state park major repairs, including $17 million under Proposition 8 and a little over $52 million in new bond authority from Proposition 4.

Last November, voters approved Proposition 4, which allocates $25 million to dry-berth the Battleship Texas to ensure its long-term preservation and another $27 million for major infrastructure repairs at state parks across Texas. After bonds are approved and sold this summer, design and construction contracts will be let this fall, and major repair work will start in 2009. Continue reading

Death of Endangered Turtle Signals the Need of Texas Beaches

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

As best anyone can tell, sometime during the middle of May a female Kemp’s ridley turtle crawled out of the surf on South Padre Island and was struck by a passing vehicle. The cautionary tale illustrates why biologists are asking beachgoers to keep an eye out for the endangered sea turtles and report sightings.

Injured and confused, the turtle returned to the warm Gulf waters for nearly a week. Then, on May 23, the turtle came ashore again. After the animal successfully deposited her clutch of eggs in the sand, volunteers noticed her injuries and took her to Sea Turtle, Inc. There, a veterinarian noted the severe infection and estimated the turtle had only about a week to live. She was euthanized the following day.

The Kemp’s ridley turtle’s extraordinary drive to reproduce bodes well for the world’s smallest marine turtle species. Weighing-in at about 100 pounds as adults, the turtles once came ashore on Gulf of Mexico beaches — in northern Mexico mostly, but also in South Texas — in the tens of thousands in a phenomenon known as an arribada (arrival). Continue reading

Great Texas Birding Classic Teams Awards Grants

Great Texas Birding Classic photo

Winning teams in the 2008 Great Texas Birding Classic have awarded their conservation prize money to fund seven habitat projects totaling $73,000 along the Texas coast. Touted as the world’s longest birding competition, the Birding Classic has funded a total of $651,000 for avian habitat conservation since it began 12 years ago.

Each year, winning teams allocate prize money to fund wildlife habitat conservation and restoration projects approved by the Birding Classic staff. This year’s event ran April 27-May 4. The competition is jointly hosted by Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Conservation prize money comes from corporate sponsors, team entry fees, community and individual donations, a Wildlife Diversity Conservation Grant from Horned Lizard Conservation License Plate funds and a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program. Continue reading