Habitat is the key to maintaining healthy wildlife populations. In most cases, active habitat management is the only way to promote the plant communities that native animals need to flourish. A partnership between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Playa Lakes Joint Venture and other conservation organizations has recently filled three new Farm Bill wildlife biologist positions in the Texas Panhandle. Their job will be to, first and foremost, promote good habitat for upland game birds.
These biologists will work with landowners, ranchers and farmers in the Texas Panhandle on habitat management and conservation measures to increase wild populations of lesser prairie chickens, pheasant, quail and other grasslands birds and animals. The state has seen populations slipping in recent years, but additional staffing centered on providing habitat will help get these birds back on track. Continue reading
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease that impacts whitetail, mule deer and elk. The disease has not yet been found in Texas, and officials would like to keep it that way. Elk producers wanting to sell or move elk in Texas must enroll in the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) CWD herd monitoring program or have elk tested as described later in this article. During 2011, the TAHC’s rules for elk movement have been held in abeyance to encourage producers to enroll in the CWD elk monitoring program.
After January 1, 2012, however, elk will only be allowed to move after all surveillance requirements have been met. Surveillance requirements can be must met by one of two ways. First, breeders can qualify by enrolling in the CWD status program and testing all mortalities and achieving the necessary status. Or additionally, elk breeders can qualify by having a valid “not detected” CWD test on file prior to elk movement. Continue reading
There are many types of foods that can be planted in combination with wildlife habitat management practices to improve a property. A great plant for a variety food plots is chufa. In fact, chufa is an excellent planting for food plots for turkeys as well as food plots for ducks. Chufa is a Spanish word meaning “ground almond.” It is a type of nut-grass that produces a potato like tuber under ground. Most often grown for wild turkeys, these tubers are high in carbohydrates and protein.
As eluded to earlier, chufa makes for great food plots for ducks. This species is an excellent food source for wintering waterfowl when flooded. Chufas flooded up to a depth of about eight inches are readily eaten by dabbling ducks, especially mallards. Diving ducks such as ring-necks, redheads, and canvasbacks, love chufas when they are flooded to depths over one foot. Chufa commonly occurs in bottomland hardwood understories and on exposed mudflats of seasonally flooded lakes. Continue reading