Category Archives: Outdoor News

Texas Waterfowl Symposium 2017

The 2017 Texas Waterfowl Symposium will be held later this month. The symposium will take place in El Campo, which is an appropriate location for a waterfowl-based meeting being the town in situated within the coastal prairies of Texas.

The event is hosted by the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute (CKWRI).

The event will focus on duck and goose populations as well as the numerous aspects that impact waterfowl management in Texas. Hunters, land owners, property managers and all persons interested in learning more about ducks and geese in Texas are invited to attend.

Texas Waterfowl Management

Symposium Details

  • When: April 20-21, 2017
  • Where: El Campo Civic Center, 2350 N Mechanic, El Campo, TX
  • Fees: Includes meals and handout materials
    – Pre Registration (before 4/10) – $45
    – Late Registration (4/10 or after) – $60
    – No refunds after 4/10

Waterfowl Symposium – Day 1

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. Topics to be covered the first day include:

  • Changes in Waterfowl Populations and Distribution in the Central Flyway
  • Annual Cycle of Waterfowl: Requirements and Managemet
  • Factors Impacting Waterfowl Populations and Migration
  • Management of Wetlands, Moist Soil Units and Farmland for Waterfowl
  • Migratory Game Bird Regulations Process
  • Harvest Data and HIP
  • Economic Impacts of Changes in Waterfowl Numbers in the Gulf Coast Region
  • Funding Opportunities for Private Landowners
  • Water Sources and Management
  • Managing Leases and Hunting Pressure
  • Wounding Loss and Shotgun Proficiency
  • A Guide and Outfitter Perspective – Panel Discussion

Waterfowl Symposium – Day 2

  • Field Tour on local property managed for waterfowl.

Lodging in El Campo

  • Days In – 979-543-1666
  • Best Western – 979-543-7033
  • Lonestar Inn – 979-543-7833

Those interesting in participating in the the Texas Waterfowl Symposium in El Campo can register online. For more information about the symposium,make sure to contact Clinton Faas at cfaas@texas-wildlife.org or 800-839-9453.

Funding for Deer Habitat Management Approved

The white-tailed deer habitat in Michigan will be getting even better thanks to funding for habitat management that focuses on the Upper Peninsula. Eleven projects across 13 counties have been funded with $100,000 for deer habitat improvement grants. The Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative is a competitive grant program designed to enhance deer habitat on non-state-managed lands in the U.P.

“This year’s grants are for excellent projects designed to address local and regional deer habitat needs,” said Bill Scullon, grant program administrator and DNR field operations manager from the Norway Field Office. “Many of the projects funded in this latest grant cycle focus on improving long-term cover in deer wintering complexes (deer yards) and improving foraging opportunities for deer going into and coming out of stressful winter conditions,” Scullon said.

Wildlife Habitat Management for Deer

Deer Habitat Improvement by County

Projects have been approved for partnering organizations in Iron, Gogebic, Dickinson, Schoolcraft, Menominee, Iron, Ontonagon, Chippewa, Luce, Mackinac, Baraga, Marquette and Delta counties. The funds will be allocated to 11 grant award recipients.

Grant proposal recipients selected for 2017 are:

  • U.P. Whitetails Inc. – $6,829
  • Ontonagon County Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited – $8,000
  • Dickinson Conservation District – $12,000
  • Gogebic Conservation District – $5,811
  • Camp Debby LLC. – $10,000
  • Sustainable Resources/Forest Park School District – $5,360
  • Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Conservation District – $10,000
  • Iron-Baraga Conservation District – $13,000
  • Marquette County Conservation District – $13,000
  • The Forestland Group and U.P. Whitetails Inc. – 10,000
  • Schoolcraft Conservation District – $6,000.

This season’s grant projects involve enhancing spring breakout wildlife openings with nutritious forage, planting large oak saplings in areas impacted by beach bark disease, planting soft mast trees for high-calorie fall foods, conifer plantings in deer wintering complexes, creating hunter walking trails, and scarifying land within deer wintering complexes to promote regeneration of long-lived conifers and other trees that need bare mineral soils exposed to be able to grow.

Evaluating Habitat Management Proposals

A committee reviewed and scored 13 grant proposals, based on five specific grant evaluation criteria. The criteria included production of tangible deer habitat enhancement benefits; proposal logistical feasibility; public accessibility or proximity to public lands; partner cost share and participation in the project implementation; and the inclusion of a communications strategy.

Now in its ninth year, the initiative is supported by the state’s Deer Range Improvement Program, which is funded by a portion of deer hunting license revenue. To date, a total of $450,000 has been spent on 60 grant projects. Grant-funded projects have been completed in every U.P. county, involving hundreds of individual private landowners and thousands of acres of deer habitat.

“These projects often become the catalyst for lasting partnerships and promote community conservation efforts across the region,” said J.R. Richardson, a Michigan Natural Resources Commissioner who lives in Ontonagon. “Many times they lead to self-sustaining efforts by participants long after the grant money has been spent.”

TB in Deer

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) can be found in white-tailed deer. The disease can have widespread consequences because it jeopardizes domestic animals, wildlife populations and humans. Bovine tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium bovis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs in mammals, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial disease of cattle that occasionally affects other mammals, such as deer. The disease is a significant zoonosis that can spread to humans, typically by the inhalation of aerosols or the ingestion of unpasteurized milk. Eradication programs have reduced or eliminated tuberculosis in cattle in developed countries and human disease is low.

Livestock are fairly easy to control, but wildlife populations are challenging from a disease management perspective. TB reservoirs in wildlife can make complete eradication of the disease impossible. Bovine tuberculosis is still common in less developed countries and severe economic losses can occur from livestock deaths. In some situations, this disease may also be a serious threat to endangered wildlife species.

States Test Deer for TB

Wildlife officials in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio recently launched a joint monitoring effort for TB after an infected deer was discovered in southeastern Indiana. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will operate a check station in Boone County during the first two weekends of modern gun season for deer, Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 19-20, as part of that monitoring. TB has not been documented in the Kentucky deer herd.

The department also will operate check stations in Bath, Nicholas and Fleming counties on those same weekends in a monitoring follow-up after the discovery of an infected cow in that area in 2010. Hunters will be asked to bring their deer by the check station so biologists can take tissue samples for testing.

Hunter-Harvested Deer

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Veterinarian Iga Stasiak said the state agencies intend to stop the disease from spreading further, which would impact livestock and wildlife populations. “These efforts will help us determine whether or not bovine TB is present in our deer herd,” she said. “Participation in this survey effort may help ensure the long-term health and stability of wild deer populations in Kentucky.”

Testing will consist of collecting a few lymph nodes from the deer’s head. Hunters who wish to have their deer mounted can provide the name of the taxidermist so that arrangements can be made to collect samples from that location. The voluntary testing, which is designed to obtain TB samples from 500 deer from each of the two regions, is part of a joint monitoring effort by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Kentucky’s TB Check Stations

  • Boone County: Boone County Cooperative Extension office, 6028 Camp Ernst Road, Burlington,.
  • Bath County: Bath County Cooperative Extension office, 2914 East U.S. 60, Owingsville.
  • Nicholas County: Nicholas County Cooperative Extension office, 268 East Main St., Carlisle.
  • Fleming County: Fleming County Cooperative Extension office, 1384 Elizaville Road, Flemingsburg.

Providing Assistance

Hunters outside of these areas can assist with monitoring for TB in deer as well. Hunters who see swollen lymph nodes, nodules in the lungs or chest cavity in any deer they are field dressing should report this to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife as soon as possible. If you see something, say something.

Why Do Deer Dig Up Lawns?

Deer Can Dig?

Yes, deer can dig to some extent. Actually, they can dig more than you might expect for an ungulate, an animal with hooves. Deer may be the smallest members of the North American deer family, but they care adept at getting to want they want. White-tailed deer as well as mule deer and exotic deer can all use their hooves to excavate the earth. In some cases, the holes they make can become quite large.

Deer Attracted to Lawns

Deer are attracted to yards for a number of reasons. First, many residential yards are irrigated. This means lush vegetation is going to be found there. Before they even dig up your lawn, they are already attracted to it because it looks good.

Lawns are typically fertilized, as well. This means that the plants found growing in your yard will also taste good to a deer. Wild animals such as deer can taste increased nutritional content. It’s how they were built; deer are designed to seek out the most nutrient-rich foods.

Deer Dig Up Foods

Deer are herbivores that browse. They will eat weeds as well as the leaves and stems of trees and shrubs. White-tailed deer, in particular, consume very little grass. They spend most of their waking hours searching for something to eat.

Deer are different from grazing animals such as cows in that they need high quality foods, foods that are easily digested. Deer foods must be energy-rich. Grass is not easy to digest so it does not make up a large part of their diet. So when deer visit a yard they are not looking for grass. If that were the case some suburban areas with high deer numbers would have zero grass cover.

Deer will consume plant parts rich in energy that grow underground, such as bulbs, which is why deer are often digging up yards, irrigated lawns and flower beds. There is something good for them to eat down there! Deer have got to eat, right?

Prevent Deer Digging in Yards

If you see digging in your lawn the first thing to do is identify the animal doing the damage. There are a number of animals will dig in a yard, with the most obvious ones being armadillos and wild, feral hogs. Armadillos create a number of small digs, maybe 2-4 inches in diameter, throughout a yard. Feral hogs can make large holes approaching 1-3 feet or even more in diameter!

The most important part of preventing damage to you yard or residential lawn is to pay attention to why deer are there, digging in the first place? Food. Remove what they want. Look at what they are digging up. The best offense is a good defense. Do not replace dug up plants with the same species. Switch gears completely and go with plants that are not attractive to deer. If they are eating your bulbs then it’s time to plant something else.

Economic Impact of CWD Will be HIGH

Whether you are a hunter, a motel owner or simply a tax paying citizen you should be concerned about the economic impact of chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD has been described as an always-fatal neurological disease that impacts cervids. This means mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and other big game species found throughout North America.

The North American Model of Conservation weighs heavily on the shoulders of big game hunters. This model also delivers wildlife conservation efforts for both game and non-game species. White-tailed deer are THE most popular big game species that hunters seek, yet CWD threatens whitetail populations across the US.

Declining Whitetail Populations Means Hard Economic Impact

Source: “About 40 percent of the CWD-positive deer that enter a year are going to survive to the end,” Edmunds said in an interview. “It doesn’t bode well, especially in our population, where we have these high prevalence and incidence rates in female deer.

“In ungulate populations,” he said, “females are what drive population dynamics and so when you’re having only 40 percent of a large percentage of your female population survive through the year, that’s where we’re getting these population declines.”

Whitetail deer free of the neurological disease, by contrast, survived through the year 80 percent of the time.

Edmunds’ study found that hunting was the main cause of mortality for diseased buck whitetail. Before the disease manifested itself in significant physical changes, he found, it apparently triggered subtle behavioral changes that made whitetail bucks more susceptible to hunters’ bullets.

Chronic wasting disease itself, which causes deer to waste away in body and mind, was the leading cause of death for does.

Economics of Whitetail Deer Hunting

Deer hunting across the US is a huge economic engine, likely responsible for at about $35 billion in economic activity. This represents almost half of all hunting-related expenditures/monies. Almost $15 billion are generated from retail sales directly related to deer hunting.

This is especially important to rural communities where hunters travel, eat and sleep. The spread of CWD may seem like an inconvenience to all involved, but it’s impact will be felt and especially hard on rural towns if deer numbers decline as the study above suggests.

Range & Wildlife Management Workshop in Menard, Texas

Managing a Ranch for Healthy Range and Wildlife

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Menard County Soil and Water Conservation District will team up to present a range and habitat workshop from 8:15 a.m.-3:20 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Murchison-Whitehead Complex in Menard located on U.S. Highway 190.

“We have a lot of information packed into this meeting on topics ranging from horned toad management to managing toxic plants,” said Lisa Brown, AgriLife Extension agent in Menard County. “We’ll also have some top speakers, serve lunch and offer continuing education units, so this will be a well-rounded program from several angles.”

Registration is $25 per person or $30 per couple. Participants are asked to preregister by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 3 for an accurate lunch count by calling the AgriLife Extension office in Menard County at 325-396-4787. More information is also available at that number.

Five Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units – two laws and regulations, one general, one drift minimization and one integrated pest management will be offered.

Menard Range & Wildlife Workshop To Include

1. How Brush Management and Pesticides Affect Horned Toads, Dr. Jim Gallagher, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department natural resource specialist at Mason Mountain Wildlife Center, Mason.

2. Pesticide Laws and Regulations, Beau Whisenant, Texas Department of Agriculture regional education specialist and inspector, Leander.

3. Newest Laws and Research on Feral Hog Control Methods, Justin Foster Texas Parks and Wildlife Department research coordinator, Kerrville.

4. Dow AgroSciences Update, Dillion DeMuth, field representative, Georgetown.

5. How to Minimize Drift When Using Chemicals for Brush and Weed Management, Gerald Hobson, Bayer Environmental Science, range and pasture specialist, Peaster.

6. Managing Toxic Plants, Dr. Bob Lyons, AgriLife Extension range specialist, Uvalde.

Mississippi Taking Deer Hunt Applications for WMAs

Whitetail season is just around the corner and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) is gearing up! Starting August 1, MDWFP will accept draw permit applications for deer and early season teal on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Applicants must apply online. All hunters (including under 16, over 65, and handicap) applying for a WMA draw hunt must possess a current valid WMA Permit or a Lifetime Hunting License to apply for a WMA Draw Hunt. After purchasing or renewing your license you must wait 24 hours until you can apply.

Permitted deer hunts are available for Black Prairie, Canemount, Charles Ray Nix, Hell Creek, Great River Road, Mahannah, Natchez State Park, Sardis Waterfowl, Sky Lake, Trim Cane, Twin Oaks, and Yockanookany WMAs. Permitted youth hunting opportunities are available at Canemount, Sardis Waterfowl, Natchez State Park and Trim Cane WMAs. Applicants for youth deer hunts must be 15 years of age or younger.

Deer Hunting in Mississippi

Special permitted handicapped hunting opportunities are available at Sardis Waterfowl, Natchez State Park, and Trim Cane WMAs. Applicants for handicapped deer hunts at Trim Cane WMA must have a physical condition which makes them fully dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. Permitted early season teal hunts will be available at Howard Miller and Muscadine Farms WMAs.

For more information regarding teal and deer hunting on wildlife management areas in Mississippi, check out the MDWFP website or give them a call at 601-432-2199. Mississippi has some great deer and some of those WMAs are hidden gems!