Monthly Archives: September 2008

Watercraft Inspections for Lake Granby and Grand Lake

Zebra Mussel 

Get ready for a special watercraft inspection! As part of an ongoing effort to contain the spread of zebra and quagga mussels, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) is conducting special watercraft inspections at Lake Granby and Grand Lake on Saturday, the 27th of September. These inspections are designed to provide local homeowners and marina operators a convenient way to have their vessels checked for mussels or other invasive species.

The scheduled inspections will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the East boat ramp at Grand Lake, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sunset Point boat ramp on Lake Granby. A hot-water wash station will be available to decontaminate any boats identified as “at risk” for spreading mussels or other invasive species.

“Our primary objective is to inspect and if necessary, decontaminate the boats that are being kept in rental slips and those vessels that are being launched from private ramps,” said Elizabeth Brown, DOW invasive species coordinator. “As fall approaches, many of these owners are getting ready to remove their boats from the lake and we’d like to have the opportunity to inspect these vessels as they are removed and before they are possibly launched into another reservoir.” Continue reading

Texas Bighorn Sheep Population Reaches New Record

Desert Bighorn Sheep 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff have counted a record 1,193 desert bighorn sheep in aerial surveys August 14-September 9, up from 991 sheep last year. Numbers of the mountain sheep climbed slowly for decades, after TPWD and various partners began sheep reintroduction efforts some 60 years ago. But in recent years a threshold of some kind appears to have been cleared, with sheep population increases now gaining momentum.

“We rocked along for years with very low numbers, and that makes it hard for a population to gain momentum,” said Mike Pittman, TPWD Trans-Pecos Wildlife Management Area project leader. “You’ve heard of safety in numbers?—with sheep that’s very true. With larger herd groups, there are more eyes to help avoid predators. Also, increased social activity means ewes going to lambing areas are able to produce more sheep.”

The record sheep count makes possible a record number of hunting opportunities. Texas will allow 15 bighorn sheep hunts in the current season, which started September 1 and runs into next summer. Eleven of those hunts will go to private landowners, who have been instrumental in the bighorn comeback through efforts like modifying fences to facilitate sheep movement and constructing water facilities for sheep and other wildlife. Continue reading

West Texas Rains Cause Problems

Mexican authorities in the state of Chihuahua had cut back outflow from one of the major dams on the Rio Conchos, but unfortunately more rain fell in Chihuahua over the weekend and that could produce more high volumes of floodwater into the Rio Grande, which last week began flooding homes and damaging riverside roads and facilities from Presidio to Amistad reservoir.

The entire Big Bend region in West Texas region has had unusually high rainfall for several weeks. Texas state game wardens and state park employees are coordinating with U.S. border patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and Presidio city and county officials, forming an incident command team to take precautions and safeguard the area. Low-lying eastern and western edges of the city of Presidio have flooded, and some homes have been lost, though so far floodwater has not entered downtown.

The focus near Presidio is to try to maintain rain-soaked earthen levees, which have already breached in several places. So far, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Fort Leaton historic structure has remained above the floodwaters, though water has risen into the park picnic area. Big Bend Ranch State Park riverside campgrounds are likely gone, though nobody can get in to assess damage since the river road FM 170 is closed with much of it underwater. 

TPWD’s Barton Warnock Center is so far unaffected. Sauceda is fine but difficult to access; the only way in is down dirt 4WD roads from the north. Meanwhile, water is still coming in where the levee broke downstream of Fort Leaton, and it’s now slowly backing up toward Presidio.

Texas Wildlife Expo is Here Again!

Texas Wildlife Expo 

Hundreds of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees, most of them in the Austin area but also many at field locations, are making final preparations for annual Wildlife Expo on the weekend of Octobert 4-5. The Expo takes place at the TPWD headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Each year, outdoor activities are celebrated at this outdoor expo. Visitors can expect to see everything from rock climbing areas, to falconry, to shooting demonstrations, and even kayaking and vendor booths. Since dozens of game wardens continue to work Hurrica Ike, the Wild Game Cooking area and some other activities may have a reduced presence, but it will still be well worth the trip.

In addition, Coastal Fisheries Division staff busy with hurricane recovery on the upper coast have stated that the stingray touch tank will not be availalbe this year, but there will still be fish! Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is anticipating another big weekend for conservation outreach. Will you be there?

Invaders of Texas Aims to Aid Conservation

Chinese Tallow Tree Leaf 

Become a Citizen Scientist – Do you want to help slow down the spread of harmful invasive species and reduce their ecological and economic damage? The first step is to locate where invaders have arrived and get that information to those who can do something about it. That’s where citizen scientists come in. Citizen scientists are volunteers who receive expert training to identify and track important invaders in our area.

Invaders of Texas Volunteer Workshops – Held in cooperation with the Texas Forest Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Cooperative Extension, and Texas Master Naturalists.

How to Participate and Register – Go to Citizen Scientist Toolkit page.

Step 1. Download and read “Being an Invaders Volunteer”

Step 2. Download and submit a completed Volunteer Interest Form to the local host of one of the scheduled workshops at least two weeks prior to the workshop date.

Step 3. The Local Host will notify you by email if your registration is accepted. Class size is limited to 30 participants per workshop and registration is on a first come first served basis. So be sure and register early! All materials will be provided. Class size is limited to 30 participants. If you have a GPS unit and/or digital camera, bring them with you. Continue reading

The Oklahoma Archery Season is Fast Approaching

Bow hunter in a tree 

While deer gun season is still more than a month away, thousands of Oklahoma deer hunters have the October 1 archery deer season opener in their sights. Last year, an estimated 74,194 Oklahoma archery hunters harvested 11,090 deer with the bow and arrow, of which about 80 percent were taken before the start of deer gun season.

“Archery hunters have a great opportunity to get out there and see the woods and deer activity before everyone else,” said Jerry Shaw, big game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

According to Shaw, the state’s 2008-09 archery season looks good for hunters in terms of deer population and herd health, and after last year’s tough hunting conditions, hunters can expect another successful year in the woods.

Last year’s total deer harvest, including those taken during muzzleloader and gun season, was 95,891 deer, down from the year previous when a record-setting 119,349 deer were harvested. Continue reading

Oklahoma Expo to Feature Fisheries Field Trip

Bass 

Oklahoma anglers have been enjoying fishing in Oklahoma for decades, but it’s hard to imagine fishing being any better than it is today. But just what exactly goes into managing a quality fishery like the ones found all across Oklahoma? Participants at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo can find out Sept. 26-28 by taking the Fisheries Management Field Trip at Guthrie City Lake.

The fisheries field trip provides everyday anglers the chance to get an inside look at the daily activities of a fisheries biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Visitors will take a barge ride and observe the process of electrofishing (shocking) and trap netting to collect largemouth bass, crappie and other game fish. The field trip also will include an opportunity to learn how biologists age fish and see how these are used to maintain quality fisheries around the state.

“Anyone, no matter your age or skill level, can enjoy good fishing in Oklahoma, but a lot of that is because of the work of biologists to manage and sustain good fishing in our waters,” said Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department.

Those interested in taking the field trip must pre-register before Sept. 25 to reserve a time, but spots may be filled before then. Pre-register by calling Carol Lee at (405) 521-3721 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Space is limited on the trips, and sign-up is on a first-come, first-served basis. Five trips will be taken during Expo Sept. 26-28, including 6 p.m. Friday and at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Continue reading