Monthly Archives: November 2009

All About the Ocelot

Learn to identify the ocelot from this photo

Ocelots are interesting cats primarily found in suitable habitat in South and Central America, but are also live in the southern tip of North America. Ocelots are about twice the size (25 to 30 pounds) of the average house cat, but much more regal, at least in my opinion. The ocelot is a sleek animal with a gorgeous dappled coat that even more handsome than the more common bobcat. These nocturnal felines use keen sight and hearing to hunt rabbits, rodents, fish, and frogs.

Like other cats, ocelots are adapted for eating meat. They have pointed canine teeth used to deliver a killing bite, and sharp molars that can tear food with ease. Ocelots tear their food to pieces and swallow it whole. In addition, their rough and tough tongues can clean the bones of their prey spotless.

Ocelots are quite nimble, with the ability to take to the trees and hunt monkeys and birds. Unlike many cats, ocelots do not avoid water and can swim very well. Most ocelots live under the leafy canopies of South American rain forests, but they also inhabit brushland habitat in Mexico and can be found as far north as South Texas. These cats can adapt to human habitats and are sometimes found in the vicinity of villages or other settlements.

Ocelots have very striking patterns on their fur, which has made them the target of market hunters. As such, they are quite rare, including in Texas where they are endangered. In fact, ocelots are protected in the United States and most other countries where they are found.

Black Bear Shot in Menard County, Texas

Black bear are returning to Texas

According to experts, black bear were eradicated from Texas by the 1950s. However, bears would occassionally show up from time to time as they traveled into the Lone Star State—primarily from Mexico. Because there was no game law prohibiting them from being killed, the State of Texas formally made bear hunting illegal in 1983. Shortly thereafter, bears that moved north and into Texas were protected, begin to reproduce, and have been expanding their range north and eastward since.

Black bear have had a stronghold in the mountainous areas of the Trans-Pecos, but the animals have been moving into the Edwards Plateau more recently. They are showing up on game cameras placed out by hunters to track white-tailed deer. In fact, just last year one had to be chemically immobilized and moved out of the city of Del Rio, and another big bear was road-killed near Alpine. Then there was the shooting of a black bear in Menard County earlier this year:

“Ray Hernandez was checking for oil at a pump jack this summer on a vast stretch of ranchland in Menard County when his cell phone rang. It was a well worker at a pipe yard on the property, insisting that he’d seen a bear.

The June 23 sighting escalated swiftly into a bear hunt that ended with the crack of a rifle, a felled beast and a criminal charge against Hernandez, who decapitated the state-protected creature with a hacksaw and ferried home its head and paws.

The black bear that wandered onto the Central Texas cattle ranch that day is the first ever confirmed in that part of the state, according to Capt. Alan Teague, a game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife. For Teague and others at the agency, it’s further proof that the stamped-out species is reclaiming lost territory.”

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Southeast Deer Study Group Nominations Sought

Deer Management Career Achievement Award Nominations Sought

The SOUTHEAST DEER STUDY GROUP Deer Management Career Achievement Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding of white-tailed deer ecology and management in the southeastern United States. The award may recognize a single achievement or contributions over an extended period of time and is presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeast Deer Study Group. The award is to be given for activities conducted within the member states of the SE Section of The Wildlife Society and the states of Missouri, Texas, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.

Nomination is to be made by a member of the SE Section, but the nominee need not be a member of the section. Both individuals and groups are eligible for nomination. Nominations including supporting documentation and letters of recommendation should be submitted by December 1, 2009 to Steve Demarais at P.O. Box 9690, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762 or (preferably) as pdf documents to sdemarais@cfr.msstate.edu.

Retirement Recognition

The Southeast Deer Study Group and Southeast Deer Committee will recognize retiring deer biologists and managers at the 2010 banquet. Awardees need not attend the meeting, and retirement can be pending or past. Self nomination is allowed. No specific time frame for work with deer is required. Nominees not attending the meeting or banquet will receive their certificate by mail. The nomination letter must list the nominee’s name, address, employer(s), dates of employment, and type of work (management and/or research) and must be emailed by January 1, 2010 to Steve Demarais at sdemarais@cfr.msstate.edu.

Kansas Wildlife Federation Needs You

The Kansas Wildlife Federation (KWF) is looking for a few good people, possibly even people that you know! KWF needs nominees for its Conservation Achievement Program (CAP) awards, given each year to persons or groups who are actively involved in wildlife management programs to conserve the environment and promote environmental education and outreach. Any conservation-minded citizen may nominate someone who has done such habitat or information based work.

Dedicated groups and individuals often go unnoticed to conservations, hunters, and other citizens of Kansas, so the CAP awards honor Kansans who have devoted themselves to conserving the state’s natural resources. Whether through education, communication, or on-ground habitat work, such dedicated people are eligible for CAP awards. Continue reading

New Rocky Mountain Elk Video Released

Elk, also known as wapiti, are the largest of Colorado’s native deer. Not only is elk hunting in Colorado a big deal, but elk are literally the biggest of the big game! Elk range from 7 to 9 feet long, with a 4 to 6 inch tail and can weigh anywhere from 450 to 900 pounds! The animals are brownish tan in color, with a yellowish rump and a dark mane on the shoulders. Mature males, or bulls as they are commonly called, have large antlers, typically with 6 tines branching from each beam.

Elk range throughout mountainous parts of Colorado, foraging in meadows and alpine tundra on grasses, forbs, and browse. They are herd animals, sometimes moving in herds of 200 to 300 individuals. Colorado is the elk capital of the world with more than 280,000 elk! And since the state of Colorado has more elk than anyone else, who better than to teach even more about this majestical creatures? Continue reading

Hunter Tags Big Nebraska Whitetail

38 Point Nebraska Whitetail

The Gun Deer Season kicked off in Nebraska over the weekend and it seems some giant whitetail bucks are hitting the ground this year. Several people have sent me photos of a big 38 point nontypical buck. I don’t think all the details are clear yet, but supposedly it was shot last week by a young hunter, possibly on state land. A game warden at the check station aged the monster buck at around 7 years, and after looking at the body on this brue, and the antler mass, that guess is probably on the money.

All indications point to this buck being the new Nebraska state record according to the warden. If anyone knows anything else about this buck, drop a comment and let us know!

Kansas Youth Hunting Opportunities

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are joining forces to provide young Kansas hunters and supervising adults with opportunities to hunt white-tailed deer during the regular firearm deer season, which opens on December 2nd and runs through the 13th. For the youth deer hunt, more than 4,500 acres of the Smoky Valley Ranch property owned by TNC are being opened to a limited number of deer hunters during the season through KDWP’s Special Hunts on Private Lands program.

All youth 16 years old and younger and an accompanying mentor will be permitted to harvest one whitetail antlerless deer each during their assigned access period. All appropriate hunting licenses and tags are required, and participating youth who are 16 must also possess a valid hunting license. Six hunts are available, each allowing access to one youth-mentor pair. Hunts will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested hunters should contact KDWP’s Fisheries and Wildlife Division at 620-672-0791 to register. This is a great opportunity for a high-quality youth hunt in Kansas!