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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-08-06                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Laura Wood, Dorothy Marcille Wood Foundation, (817) 716-3963, laura@dmwoodfoundation.org; Heather Whitlaw, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, (806) 742-4968, heather.whitlaw@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Aug. 6, 2009
New Lesser Prairie-Chicken Brochure Available For Landowners
LUBBOCK, Texas -- A new brochure titled "A Shared Future" details how the lesser prairie-chicken is an indicator of rangeland health and part of the West Texas heritage, how it could affect agriculture and rural property if the bird is listed as threatened or endangered, and what landowners and others can do to conserve wildlife habitat and safeguard the region's economy, outdoor recreation opportunities and natural legacy.
"Many conditions are at work that makes us wonder; will the lesser prairie-chicken go the way of the passenger pigeon?" asks an early brochure section. "The lesser prairie-chicken symbolizes a vanishing heritage, and there are also many practical reasons private landowners should pay attention to what this bird is telling us. For in fact, what's good for the lesser prairie-chicken is, in many cases, good for landowners and their business."
The 12-page, color publication emerges at a time when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to place the bird on the federal threatened or endangered species list. It was published by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department using hunter dollars from sales of the Upland Game Bird Stamp through a contract with the nonprofit Dorothy Marcille Wood Foundation of Fort Worth.
The brochure points out that lesser prairie-chickens evolved by utilizing rangeland that was naturally stable, vigorous, sustainable and highly productive, "exactly what livestock producers want to reap the most lasting benefits from their land."
It explains that if the lesser prairie-chicken is listed as threatened or endangered, that could have a direct impact on agricultural business. Limitations imposed by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) could affect day to day operations involving livestock production, including limiting some common activities. Further, oil, gas and wind energy production could be directly impacted if the bird is listed, as ESA rules could affect the locations and scope of these activities.
The scale used to identify urgency of threat to a Candidate Species runs from 12 to one, with one being almost certain that a species will be listed as threatened or endangered. The lesser prairie-chicken recently rose on this scale from an eight to a two.
For all these reasons, the brochure points out how "it is in the best interest of the private landowner to be in the game instead of a bystander."
The federal wildlife service and state wildlife department have developed a program to work with West Texas private landowners in the lesser prairie-chicken range. This Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) allows landowners to utilize conservation options and protect themselves from restrictive land use policies that may arise if/when the lesser prairie-chicken is listed.
The CCAA is voluntary and offers landowners a place at the table, as well as resources to help in future land use planning. This program has the goal of working with landowners to reduce threats, thereby stabilizing and increasing lesser prairie-chicken populations. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the need for listing altogether. The brochure goes on to detail how the CCAA works and how landowners can participate.
The publication also explains how the unique native prairies that inspired early cattle producers to settle in the High and Rolling Plains looked much different than today's rangeland plant communities. And it details how today, enlightened ranchers have discovered that a healthy habitat for both livestock and wildlife can significantly enhance land values and production.
"Rangeland and water issues also go hand in hand in lesser prairie-chicken country," the brochures states, noting how dropping aquifer levels, surface water availability, and water quality problems can degrade habitat for lesser prairie-chickens and other wildlife. Conversely, healthy native grasslands are good for prairie-chickens and water resources, helping to naturally hold and filter rainfall and encourage underground aquifer recharge.
"It is important that people involved in all types of agriculture have a sustainable proposition to offer," said Jim Weaver, a rancher quoted in the brochure. "This will be beneficial in the long run both for wildlife, and for the people that actually have to take care of this country."
The brochure concludes by listing government agencies and other organizations that offer landowner assistance to develop management and conservation plans for soil, plant, livestock, water, and wildlife resources, as well as sources of conservation grants and financial incentives for private landowners.
To obtain a brochure, contact Laura Wood with the Dorothy Marcille Wood Foundation at laura@dmwoodfoundation.org or (817) 716-3963.
More information about wildlife conservation for private landowners is on the TPWD Private Lands Program Web page.
PHOTOS for news media use showing the lesser prairie chicken in the wild, plus birders in a blind viewing prairie chickens, and a signing ceremony to complete the CCA, are available as high resolution .jpg files in the News Images area of the TPWD Web site.
Founded in 1988, The Dorothy Marcille Wood Foundation seeks to strengthen the impact of Texas public and non-profit organizations in their communities, by assisting them in their outreach, communication and fundraising goals, primarily focusing on conservation. The foundation works with retired NRCS biologist Charles Coffman for wildlife management technical guidance, and Tracey S. Dunford for graphic design. Laura Wood of Fort Worth is the executive director, and the foundation is named in honor of her grandmother, Dorothy Marcille, a hard-working West Texas rancher from Tom Green County.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landowners
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/?g=lesser_prairie_chicken
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Aug. 6, 2009
Texas to Delay Mottled Duck Harvest Five Days
AUSTIN, Texas -- Duck hunters in Texas will once again get the liberal waterfowl season with a 74-day season and six bird daily bag limit framework during the 2009-2010 general waterfowl seasons, but mottled ducks will be off the table during the first five days. The framework has been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is pending adoption by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Aug. 27 public meeting.
The Service is holding Texas and Louisiana to a 20 percent harvest reduction on mottled ducks, citing a need for additional conservation based on estimated population declines resulting from major storms in recent years and slow habitat recovery due to extended drought conditions.
While Louisiana will be trimming its daily bag limit on mottled ducks from three birds to one to meet its 20 percent reduction in harvest, Texas can achieve the same goal with a five-day delay at the start of the season.
"We ran our harvest-per-day numbers on mottled ducks and determined we could wait and open hunting of mottled ducks on the sixth day of the season and achieve a 20 percent reduction because we were already at one dusky duck per day (mottled duck, Mexican duck or black duck)," said Vernon Bevill, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program director for small game.
Bevill went on to say that mottled ducks are a front-end loaded species with the majority of the harvest occurring early in the season. "The sixth day falls on a Thursday (Nov. 5) and by opening on a weekday we feel mottled ducks will get a quick education before the hunting pressure goes back up on the second weekend," he said. "They have suffered the impacts of several hurricanes destroying their breeding areas and flushing the wetlands with high salinities and destroying their food sources.
"The impact of the current drought is also slowing the wetland recovery from the effects of the hurricanes," Bevill added. "But that said, when the rains return and the habitat recovers we should see a dramatic increase in their numbers. There is a lot of good news associated with the proposed 2009-10 regulations. We will once again have one each/day of pintails and canvasbacks as well as a three wood duck bag limit that will help East and North Texas duck hunters. If the drought holds on into the fall, those hunting over managed wetlands, around stock tanks fed by windmills, and rice fields will have some great hunting. We plan to have some migration chronology information in our late season digest to help hunters know when various species tend to migrate to, or through, Texas."
Proposed 2009-2010 Waterfowl Seasons
Ducks
High Plains Mallard Management Unit
--Saturday/Sunday, Oct. 24 -- 25
--Friday, Oct. 30 through Sunday, Jan. 24
--Youth-only season Saturday/Sunday, Oct. 17-18
North and South Zones
--Saturday, Oct. 31 through Sunday, Nov. 29
--Saturday, Dec. 12 through Sunday, Jan. 24
--Youth-only season Saturday/Sunday, Oct. 24-25
The daily bag limit statewide would be six ducks, with the following species and sex restrictions: five mallards (of which only two may be hens), three wood ducks, two scaup, two redheads, one pintail, one canvasback, and one "dusky duck" (mottled duck, Mexican-like duck, black duck and their hybrids). Mottled ducks may not be harvested prior to Thursday, Nov. 5.
Proposed falconry season for ducks is Monday, Jan. 25 through Tuesday, Feb. 9 in the North and South Zones. There is no Extended Season in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit.
Geese
Western Goose Zone
--Saturday, Nov. 7 through Sunday, Feb. 7
The daily bag limit is 20 light geese in the aggregate and four Canada geese and one white-fronted goose. Possession limit is twice the daily bag limit for dark geese and no possession limit on light geese.
Eastern Goose Zone
--Saturday, Oct. 31 through Sunday, Jan. 24 for light geese and Canada geese
--Saturday, Oct. 31 through Sunday, Jan. 10 for white-fronted geese.
The daily bag limit is 20 light geese in the aggregate and three Canada geese and two white-fronted geese.
Light Goose Conservation Order
--Monday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Mar. 28 in the Western Goose Zone
--Monday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, Mar. 28 in the Eastern Goose Zone
No bag or possession limits.
Sandhill Crane
Zone A
--Saturday, Nov. 7 through Sunday, Feb. 7
Daily bag limit of three birds.
Zone B
--Friday, Nov. 27 through Sunday, Feb. 7
Daily bag limit of three birds.
Zone C
--Saturday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 24
Daily bag limit of two birds.
Possession limits statewide are twice the daily bag limits.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed migratory seasons by contacting Dave Morrison, TPWD Waterfowl Program Leader, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744 or email dave.morrison@tpwd.texas.gov.
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Aug. 6, 2009
Dry Conditions Could Boost Dove Hunting Prospects
AUSTIN, Texas -- Despite extended drought conditions across much of Texas, wildlife biologists with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department suggest there has been enough moisture to set the stage for good hunting this dove season.
"Dry conditions don't necessarily equate to bad dove hunting," said Corey Mason, TPWD dove program leader. "I've been around the state the last month and have seen good production of native sunflower and numbers of doves along high lines and around water. I'm expecting a good dove season."
Reports from field biologists echo Mason's outlook. "Dove hunting should be awesome; especially if hunting over a water source," said LaGrange-based district biologist David Forrester. "Normally water is overabundant in my district, but this year it will be at a premium. Additionally, if you can find a stand of sunflower, goat weed, etc., hunting should be good. Food sources and particularly native food sources are going to be an attractant because the agricultural crops and harvest just aren't going to be as good."
In regions where rainfall has been plentiful, such as the Panhandle, dove hunting prospects are favorable but could bring unwanted additions as Amarillo district biologist Calvin Richardson warned. "Probably, the only downside that I could imagine is that we probably are going to have a heck of a mosquito crop during dove season."
Beginning this year, Texas will be going to a 70-day dove season and 15-bird daily bag statewide. Possession limit is still twice the daily bag.
The season in the North and Central Dove Zones runs Tuesday, Sept. 1 through Sunday, Oct. 25 and reopens Saturday, Dec. 26 through Saturday, Jan. 9. The South Zone dove season runs Friday, Sept. 18-Tuesday, Nov. 3, reopening Saturday, Dec. 26-Sunday, Jan. 17.
The additional 10 days in the North Zone should provide more late season hunting opportunity for diehard sportsmen, according to Mason. "Most folks hunt early, usually the first couple of weekends, but there are usually birds to be found throughout the season around water holes and food sources so the extra days could mean good hunting during enjoyable weather."
The Special South Texas White-winged Dove Area will open to white-winged dove afternoon-only (noon to sunset) hunting the first two full weekends in September running Sept. 5-6 and 12-13 and reopens when the regular South Zone season begins on Friday, Sept. 18 through Tuesday, Nov. 3 and again from Saturday, Dec. 26 through Wednesday, Jan. 13. The Special White-winged Dove Area season takes four of the allowable 70 days, so when the regular season opens, this area most close four days earlier than the rest of the South Zone. The daily bag limit is 15 birds, not more than four mourning doves during the first two weekend splits and 2 white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens, the aggregate bag limit will be 15.
Texas boasts fall dove populations in excess of 40 million birds and its 300,000 dove hunters harvest about 6 million birds annually or roughly 30 percent of all doves taken in the United States. Dove hunting also has a major economic impact, contributing more than $300 million to the state economy.
Dove hunting provides an entry into the sport of hunting because it is relatively economical and accessible. Through its Public Hunting Program, TPWD offers affordable access to quality hunting experiences with the purchase of a $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit.
This year, TPWD has leased nearly 50,000 acres of public dove hunting fields in 46 counties; many of which are located near major urban areas. The 140 hunting units are distributed from South Texas to the Panhandle and from Beaumont to West Texas.
"Approximately seventy-two percent of the dove units and 71 percent of the acreage are located in the four major metro areas of Austin/Waco, Houston/Beaumont, San Antonio/Corpus Christi and Dallas/Fort Worth," said Vickie Fite, TPWD public hunting program coordinator."
This year, TPWD has combined its Annual Public Hunting Map Booklet and its Dove Hunting Supplement into one publication. The new map booklet is organized into eight urban area based regions that will allow hunters to readily identify places to hunt in their area. Beginning Aug. 15 public hunting maps will be available for download and viewing from the department's Web site.
Hunters are reminded that in addition to a valid Texas hunting license, certification in the Harvest Information Program (HIP) is required. HIP certification is offered when you buy your license and involves responding to a few simple questions about your migratory game bird harvest during the previous season. Hunting licenses expire annually on Aug. 31 and licenses for the 2009-2010 year go on sale Aug. 15.
TPWD is also conducting ongoing dove banding research and asks hunters to please report leg bands recovered on harvested birds by calling 1-800-327-BAND. TPWD bands about 20,000 dove a year across the state.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/public/lands/
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