In many parts of Texas habitat management is range management. Livestock forage, plant communities and wildlife habitat go hand-in-hand. New landowners can get a crash course on ranch management during the annual Texas AgriLife Extension Service Ranch Management University on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station. The class is a great introduction to the importance of enhancing and maintaining the plants found on your property.
The range management workshop is scheduled for April 9-13 at the G. Rollie White Visitor’s Center. The workshop is designed to help new landowners improve their understanding regarding management of the various resources they find on their Texas ranch properties, said Dr. Larry Redmon, AgriLife Extension state forage specialist. Continue reading
Persons interested in wildlife management understand that habitat management is the key. Wildlife will not respond without suitable plant communities; if you build it they will come. A major challenge for landowners in many areas is the proper management of white-tailed deer populations. Proper management includes the challenges of controlling population density and deer overpopulation and letting young bucks mature so that the desired antler quality can be achieved.
In many areas, lowering deer numbers to appropriate levels will improve the health of both the plant and animal communities found in the area. Fewer deer will actually improve the quality of the habitat for deer, producing large-bodied deer, and other wildlife. Deer management is a numbers game, often accomplished through regulated deer hunting. A balanced harvest of bucks and does can also improve the age structure of whitetail bucks, resulting in larger-antlered bucks. Fewer deer will also translate into bigger does, which will recruit more fawns into the population each year. Continue reading
The issue of burro control on state-owned lands for wildlife and habitat management has been a hot topic down in Texas over the past year. The state wildlife agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), was under fire for controlling feral burros, a non-native species, at state parks. TPWD contends that these exotic animals are destroying important plant communities and wildlife habitat on state lands. TPWD, however, is continuing to explore the feasibility of non-lethal alternatives to manage the feral burro problem at Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Since the mid-2000s, TPWD’s State Parks Division has explored non-lethal options such as live trapping to remove the burros. Live trapping of feral hogs has been successfully used in some parts of the country, but can wild burros be trapped? Well, the results are in. State parks staff met early on with veterinarians and other experts with the USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) based in Presidio, but APHIS was unsuccessful in trapping feral burros along the US-Mexico Border within the state park. Continue reading
Ask anyone over the age of 30 years old that grew up on a farm or ranch in and they will tell you that the quail hunting in Texas was once fairly good. There were still suitable quail numbers, people heard quail, hunters saw quail. Farming and ranching practices were different then, too. Although research has found that quail hunting has little impact on quail populations, many hunters feel that hunting regulations may need to more conservative.
One of the rationales for shortening the season and/or reducing bag limits for quail in Texas is that many people think Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) needs to “send a message” out to people. One can only presume that the people who are calling for these additional limits think this message is: “Quail numbers are so low that you should stop hunting them or drastically reduce the extent to which you hunt them.” However, I suspect many quail managers and hunters already know and heed this message. Rarely are people more conservative than a landowner when it comes to the harvest of wildlife. Continue reading
Most folks don’t even know we have bald eagles in Texas, but they are found here. In fact, they even nest and raise their young here. If you have ever driven eight miles east of Llano, Texas, on State Highway 29, you might have noticed cars parked on the side of the road, pedestrians with binoculars and cameras, and everyone looking up. That just happens to be the best spot in Texas to see, up close, a pair of nesting bald eagles in Texas. The eagle nest is located right on the Llano River. The Llano provides good sources of water, food and suitable trees for nesting eagles.
Historically, a bald eagle pair has had four active nest sites along this one-half-mile stretch of the river real estate in eastern Llano County since the late 1980’s. Two of the nest sites have been destroyed by natural causes and the third was abandoned for unknown reasons. The current nest site, which was established in 2010, is located on private ranch about 100 yards from State Highway 29, and has been a major tourist attraction for Llano County. Continue reading
Lead Shot. There are many aspects of wildlife management. Most hunters think about game laws – seasons and bag limits. Although regulated hunting is a big part of the North American Model of Wildlife Management, the wise use of our resources is always the number one concern. This includes everything that impacts the wildlife that we chase, including the type of shot we use. The intake of lead shot by various waterfowl species has been well document. Additional studies have found high amounts of lead in processed hunter-killed game. It’s definitely out there.
Now, the Center for Biological Diversity and 99 other groups asked U.S. EPA today to regulate lead in hunting ammunition. The petition — the center’s second on the issue — says tighter controls would prevent “widespread poisoning” of eagles, California condors and other wildlife. It would also protect public health, the groups say, because lead from ammunition can contaminate the environment, as well as hunted animals that are eventually eaten. Continue reading
Wildlife management is about providing and manipulating plant communities. It’s commonly referred to as habitat management, and it’s critical for the survival of many plant and animal species. Sometimes wildlife management is also about predators. Predators are wildlife, but the term predators does necessarily refer to any particular animal. Some predators are generalist, some are quite specific. A skunk may be a predator of ground nesting birds, but not of birds that nest in trees. Raccoons would be more likely to climb and impact critters found in trees.
Native and introduced predators abound in most plant communities. Indigenous predators such as coyote and bobcat prey on many wildlife species including white-tailed deer. In fact, studies indicate significant fawn losses due to coyote predation. Fecal sample analysis of coyotes found deer hair in droppings during every month of the year. Native predators, such as bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and snakes, have an impact on birds, small mammals and herptofauna. Continue reading