Monthly Archives: December 2009

Red Tide Plagues Texas Coasts

It seems an unusually persistent bloom of toxic red tide has been strengthening in Corpus Christi Bay despite the fact that winter is just around the corner. Usually, cooling bay temperatures stave off or diminish concentrations of red tide, according to Meridith Byrd, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) harmful algal bloom coordinator. But the expert said red tide blooms have been known to thrive in the 40-degree range off the East Coast.

This fall’s red tide was first reported in early October on the southern coast. As it moved north to the central coast, it killed millions of fish periodically throughout October and November. The bloom had been declining in December until last week, when by late Friday dead fish were being reported along the Corpus Christi bayfront. Continue reading

Doe Hunting Available and Necessary

Keeping deer populations under control means maintaining the proper deer density for the habitat found in the area, and often this means implementing a proper doe harvest. Although shooting bucks removes deer and lowers the number of mouths using the native forage, nothing is more important at maintaining a healthy deer herd than keeping the proper number of doe. Some hunters will try to shoot young-of-the year (fawns) animals because they are easier to transport back to the vehicle, easier to cut up, and make for good eating.

Plus at Northern latitudes, young-of-the-year are the first to die in a tough winter and someone has to shoot does, and it should be every serious deer hunter’s responsibility to harvest at least one doe every year in areas with healthy deer populations. Another thing to keep in mind: it does not really make a difference whether a hunter shoots a doe fawn or an old doe, the goal is to keep the population from expanding beyond the ability for the habitat to support it. Continue reading

Illegal Whitetail Deer Trade: Someone’s Watching

White-tailed deer are not only the number one game animal in North America, they are a big business, too. And unfortunately, not all of that “business” is legal. In Texas, properly licensed individuals can breed and sell whitetail to other breeders or ranches, but there is also an underground trade that is estimated to involve hundreds of thousands of dollars. This deer trade is not only illegal, but it risks the health of the state’s deer herd.

Source: It’s a humid summer evening in central Texas, and a man we’ll call Cal is about to make an illegal purchase. As a result, his anxiety level is high. His palms are damp, his heart is racing and his mouth is dry. The item in this particular transaction isn’t a bale of marijuana or a stolen laptop, or even a crate of bootleg CDs. It’s an 11-point white-tailed buck with highly desirable drop-tine antlers off each main beam. Eyeballing the deer, which has just been darted with a tranquilizer gun, Cal agrees that this buck will earn a Boone & Crockett score of at least 150, as promised. A trophy by most standards, and a bargain for $2,000. Continue reading

Grazing Land Stewardship: A Manual for Texas Landowners

Range and habitat management is important

Texas’ grazing lands are a critical natural resource and managing them is both a science and an art. With the introduction of the “Grazing Land Stewardship: A Manual for Texas Landowners,” even those who are new to land ownership and/or habitat management will have the tools and information needed to be good stewards of the land and manage for quail, turkey, and white-tailed deer. The how-to manual has three sections that include Grazing Basics (what makes land healthy, livestock nutrition, forage quality, water and fences, grazing behavior), Getting Started (setting goals, land inventories, grazing strategies), and Follow Through (record keeping, managing livestock, managing wildlife habitat).

The Grazing Lands Stewardship manual helps connect landowners and managers with trained professionals in the field. Many of these professionals have received specialized training and have worked with ranchers throughout the state and across the U.S. They have seen have practices have endured and have developed a core set of principles that can build a foundation for successful land management. Continue reading

Galveston Oyster Reef Restoration

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has received a $50,000 grant from the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to continue and expand oyster reef restoration in Galveston Bay. They recently completed the first phase of the restoration project in September of 2009.

Phase 2 will restore at least 2.5 acres of oyster reef habitat, divided up into several smaller patches of reef habitat. The purpose is to improve recreational fishing in the area and to to provide other “ecoystem sercies” from oyster reefs. The reefs will be located near privately owned piers and in waters currently closed to commercial oyster fishing due to high bacteria counts. Continue reading