Monthly Archives: June 2012

Turkey Management: Turkey Habitat Super Fund Proposal Projects

Turkeys need suitable habitat to survive and thrive. Turkey management is primarily about habitat; maintaining, developing and managing suitable food, cover and water. The best turkey cover is a well-protected area of several hundred acres, preferably 500 acre or more. The majority, 60 to 90 percent, of the area can be forested/brushed, with a variety of tree species present. About 50 percent should be comprised of mature oaks, with an open understory. At least 10 to 15 percent of the area should consist of scattered, grassy openings at least one acre in size. Although the above describes ideal turkey habitat, habitat management is the key for healthy turkey populations.

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) will be accepting grant proposals through November 1, 2012 for funding projects on TPWD’s WMAs, other public lands, cooperative habitat projects on Wildlife Cooperatives and Wildlife Management Associations, prescribed burn associations, youth outdoor education events, and upland game bird research projects. NWTF has a very simple application process and they are no longer focused solely on wild turkeys. Any project with a focus on upland game birds and habitat management qualify. Proposals will be reviewed/ranked at the January 2013 Texas State NWTF Board meeting and funds will be allocated soon after. Continue reading

Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA)

Located in the Llano Uplift of Central Texas, Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was a working exotic game ranch before Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) acquired the tract in 1997. Soon after acquisition TPWD began reducing the exotic and native animal populations to desirable levels. Today, six species of resident exotics provide excellent opportunities to study the effects of African ungulates on local habitat and interactions between exotic and native wildlife such as whitetail deer. The resources of Mason Mountain WMA are dedicated to research concerning the ecology of the Central Mineral Region and its application to wildlife management on private lands.

Area biologists have conducted research projects investigating diets of exotic species, deer breeding behavior, deer census techniques and the re-introduction of the javelina. The Mason Mountain WMA is situated on the boundary between the Central Mineral Region and the Edwards Plateau, and as such, a variety of wildlife habitats are represented. About two-thirds of the area consists of granite-derived soils supporting a community of post oak and blackjack oak. The remainder of the area is dominated by live oak and Texas oak on limestone-derived soils. Continue reading

Ranch Management Class on Prescribed Burning for Wildlife and Habitat Management

Habitat is the cornerstone of wildlife management. But having the right habitat does not just happen, it takes the right plants to provide necessary food and cover. It short, active habitat management must be implemented by landowners to enhance individual plant communities and habitat for wildlife. For Texas landowners interested in overall ranch enhancement, the Academy for Ranch Management will conduct a prescribed burn workshop at the Texas AgriLife Research Station near Sonora August 2 through 4.The station is located on State Highway 55 between Sonora and Rocksprings.

The Academy for Ranch Management is associated with the Center for Grazing and Ranch Management at the department of ecosystems science and management at Texas A&M University in College Station. The Sonora facilities provide a teaching laboratory for hands-on experience wildlife management. The Academy’s primary goal is training ranchers for effective rangeland management, and the focus now is on prescribed burning for rangelands. Prescribed burning is a habitat management tool that can be used to improve rangeland vegetation for livestock and wildlife use, and also reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires by removing hazardous fuel loads. Continue reading

Prescribed Burning for Wildlife Management, Improve Habitat

One of the best management practices that wildlife professionals have is prescribed burning. Prescribed fire mimics the natural role of fire, but in much more controlled environment. Fire is not bad. In fact, fire is good, very good, for maintaining healthy plant and animal communities. Many state and federal agencies promote controlled burning because of its many positives. Government Canyon State Natural Area Superintendent Chris Holm announced today that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff plans to conduct prescribed burns at Government Canyon State Natural Area starting in June and continuing through January.

The burns are expected to be conducted and completed in two to three days each. An open public meeting will be held at Government Canyon at 7 p.m. on June 19, 2012 to provide information about the prescribed burn program and to answer any questions about the burns. Prescribed burns are used as a management tool in natural areas and state parks to improve habitat for wildlife by restoring woodlands and savannahs in the Natural Area that were historically maintained by natural fires. They also are conducted to reduce the amount of available fuels, such as leaf litter, fallen branches, understory growth and dead trees that accumulate naturally and from storm events. By decreasing the amount of available fuels, prescribed burns reduce the chance for a potentially destructive wildfire to occur. Continue reading