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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2010-03-11                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
March 11, 2010
Outlook Fair for Spring Turkey Season
Hunters should temper expectations for this spring's turkey season after back-to-back years of dry conditions negatively impacted nesting success across much of Texas, resulting in fewer gobblers on the ground.
The good news is 2007 produced a bumper crop of birds and that carryover of mature toms in South Texas and the Hill Country, combined with excellent nesting habitat conditions this year, could result in above-normal breeding activity.
TPWD estimates about 72,000 hunters take part in Texas' spring turkey season and take about 25,000 gobblers. Most of the state's spring turkey hunting activity occurs in South Texas and in the Hill Country, where Texas Parks and Wildlife Department turkey program leader Jason Hardin noted timely rainfall could give the bird population a boost.
"I expect there will be enough older birds to keep the season interesting," predicts Hardin. "All of the moisture we have had this winter is setting the stage for an early hatch. If the moisture continues I expect the population to boom in these areas and get us back on track."
Rio Grande spring turkey hunting season opens in the North Zone April 3 and runs through May 16. Special youth-only weekends are set for March 27-28 and May 22-23. The South Zone opens March 20 and runs through May 2, with youth-only weekends set for March 13-14 and May 8-9.
A special one-gobbler-only Rio Grande spring season is set for April 1-30 in 8 counties, including: Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee and Milam counties,
The spring gobbler-only eastern turkey season is open in 43 East Texas counties from April 1-30 with a 1 bird bag.
TPWD biologist Ralph Suarez in Ballinger is based along a transitional area between the northern Hill Country, southern Rolling Plains and western cross timbers. He says that they have had near record moisture this winter and that he is seeing a lot of green weeds already. Suarez is predicting an early start to the nesting season, however, he expects the overall number of gobblers to be down this season due to the past two years of drought.
Gene T. Miller, TPWD biologist in Canyon, says that production has been better in his area of the Panhandle than farther south in Texas and he expects to have a decent crop of 2, 3, and 4-year old birds in the eastern Panhandle. Miller advises the later you hunt in the season the more productive the hunting should be.
"From what I have seen in the Rolling Plains I tend to agree with Gene," says Hardin. "We have seen a fair number of jakes over the last two years. They have not had a boom year since 2007, but they have had more moisture than the rest of the Rio range. This year is shaping up to be a boom year. We just need this moisture to continue. All this moisture should lead to great productions."
The Trans-Pecos region also looks pretty good, according to Philip Dickerson, TPWD biologist in Alpine, who commented that staff saw quite a few flocks while flying mule deer surveys and that 2008 reproduction was pretty good. "There appeared to have been good numbers of birds in 2009 on many of the ranches I contacted about turkeys," Dickerson says. "Overall the habitat conditions are very good across the region. With decent production in 2009 and the excellent wet conditions we've had, the hens should have no problem getting into nesting condition this spring."
Hardin notes that those ranches that adapted to the recent droughts by reducing stocking rates and maintaining adequate cover should have the most rapid and positive responses to the recent moisture. However, birds will be well distributed with an early production of forbs. Again, Rio Grande turkeys should be in excellent condition range wide.
East Texas is moving along at a usual pace, according to TPWD district biologist Gary Calkins in Jasper, who predicts a normal year. He is expecting nesting to get somewhat of a late start due to the fact East Texas actually got some winter weather this year. "We did see a fair amount of production in 2009," Calkins notes. "I think hunters will see a fair number of jakes this season."
Statewide regulations allow the use of shotgun, rifle, handgun, legal archery equipment or crossbow to take Rio Grande turkey; however, individual landowners and public hunting areas may further restrict the devices to be used. The bag limit for Rio Grande turkey is four turkeys per license year. Regulations and bag limits vary by county, so check the county specific rules where you are hunting. Only gobblers are allowed to be harvested during the spring hunting season. Consult the 2009-10 Outdoor Annual for season dates and bag limits in your area.
Eastern turkey hunting is limited to shotgun, lawful archery equipment or crossbow, with a one-gobbler bag limit. All harvested eastern turkeys must be taken to a check station within 24 hours. To find the check station nearest you, contact a TPWD field office or call (800) 792-1112.
Need a place to hunt? TPWD's public hunting program offers the opportunity to participate in low cost, family oriented, spontaneous hunts for turkeys. Each year, the department publishes maps of more than 1 million acres of public hunting lands. Access for turkey hunting is provided by the Annual Public Hunting (APH) Permit.
The permit costs $48 and may be purchased wherever hunting licenses are sold, and allows an adult access to designated public hunting lands. Having purchased the appropriate Texas hunting licenses and stamps, holders of an APH Permit may take children under age 17 hunting free of charge on these public hunting lands.
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[ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 11, 2010
Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
--Numbers add up to legal trouble: Tarrant County Game Wardens Clint Borchardt and Chelle Mount were checking fishermen along the West Fork of the Trinity River on February 21. The first of two boats they checked had four fishermen. The section behind the last seat was filled to the top of the transom with 122 white bass. The second boat had two fishermen and 64 white bass in their ice chest. All six fishermen received citations for over the limit of white bass.
--Crappie fishermen come up short: Polk County Game Warden David Johnson was patrolling Kickapoo Creek for water safety violations on February 22 when he noticed several boats taking advantage of the crappie bite up the creek. While making contact with three subjects, a water safety inspection was conducted. When a personal flotation device was pulled from below the front deck, the warden noticed a holding basket full of crappie. Several citations were issued for possession of undersized crappie and no fishing license.
--Wardens find novel use of stolen truck: Game Wardens Michael Hummert and Colt Gaulden were patrolling on February 21 when they heard a call that a Department of Public Safety helicopter had detected a LoJack transmission coming from a 90,000-acre ranch in Webb County. Responding to the call, the wardens entered the ranch and spoke with the landowner. The DPS helicopter was hovering over an area where the landowner said a hunter's camp was located. The wardens entered the camp and found a stolen Ford F-250 four-door truck. The originally white truck had been painted in camouflage, an elevated deer blind had been installed, and fictitious plates had been put on the vehicle.
--Motorcycle goes for a boat ride: Game Wardens Ronnie Langford, Brent Whitus, and Jim Lindeman were patrolling the upper end of Lake Travis in Burnet County on February 20 when a flat-bottom boat containing an upright motorcycle caught their attention. The wardens stopped the unregistered craft to talk to its two occupants. When they ran a check the wardens discovered the motorcycle was reported stolen in Burnet County. The motorcycle and subjects were turned over to the Burnet County Sheriff's Office for further investigation.
--Remember, Don't Mess With Texas: Gillespie County Warden Scott Krueger received a call from a local rancher on February 22 regarding a dumped blackbuck antelope carcass and large bag of trash in the ditch near the rancher's residence. Scott located the trash the next morning. At the bottom of the trash bag Scott found a receipt from a store in Fredericksburg. Next he met with the store's loss prevention director who began a records search. In a few minutes video was found of the suspect checking out, as well as parking lot video of the subject getting into his vehicle. Since he paid with a credit card, Scott was able to get his name. A quick check in the phone book gave Scott an address. After a brief introduction, Scott told the suspect the reason for the visit. A citation was issued, and the trash was cleaned up.
--"Hog" turns out to be illegal doe: Van Zandt County Game Warden Steve Stapleton received a call from a landowner who had found the outline of a deer in the snow with a blood trail leading back to a county road. The landowner said that a short time after he made the discovery, a truck drove up and the driver asked if he could put a hog trap on the rancher's property. The landowner asked the man if he knew anything about a deer being illegally shot on his property, and the man said he had found a hog and in the spirit of helpfulness had removed it for the rancher. The warden was able to track down the subject and drove to the subject's house pulling the regional Operation Game Thief trailer for an upcoming event. The warden realized he was likely on the right investigative track when the man saw the OGT trailer and remarked that it looked like he was going to lose his truck "over all of this." It seems he thought the trailer was used to confiscate vehicles and illegal equipment. A freshly killed doe was found hidden in a hay barn. The warden also recovered a .22 short pistol used to kill the deer. Multiple cases pending.
--On-line detective work pays off. Travis County Warden Cody Jones got word on February 19 of a Craigslist posting from someone wanting to purchase whitetail deer meat. The warden made email contact with two persons and working with the Special Operations Unit set up a buy-bust. Both suspects were filed on for setting up an illegal purchase of meat from a game animal.
--Young woman gets another chance at life: Around 11 p.m. on February 21, Travis County Game Warden Braxton Harris was patrolling Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Lake checking a few bank fishermen and late-night kayakers. Beneath the I-35 bridge the warden drove by the one car parked in the area and noticed a hose going from the exhaust pipe into the rear window. After turning the car off and finding its female occupant still breathing, he opened all the car doors and then called for an ambulance. The 25-year-old woman was expected to make a full recovery.
--Nice bucks! Too bad they were taken illegally. Travis County Game Warden Braxton Harris received a call at 4 a.m. February 24 from dispatch to contact an Austin Police Department officer who was detaining two men who had just shot two deer. When the warden arrived, he found the two deer had been shot with a 12-gauge from the roadway. One buck scored 126 2/8 Boon and Crockett points and the other 109 1/8. The deer meat was donated for use by the homeless and the men taken to jail. Cases pending.
--One toke over the line: On February 24, Travis County Warden Cody Jones was searching for a vehicle involved in poaching activity when two subjects approached his state truck while toking on a marijuana pipe. Not until they had walked to within only a few feet of the warden did they realize their mistake and try to hide the illegal substance. Both subjects were issued field release citations for the marijuana possession and released.
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[ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
March 11, 2010
Factsheet: 2010 State of the Birds in Texas
--Texas has recorded 636 total bird species, more than any state except California. Of these, 10 are on state and federal endangered species lists, and another 20 are listed as threatened. In the Texas Wildlife Action Plan, 39 birds are high priority species of greatest conservation need, birds that are already or could become threatened or endangered and need our help.
--All these birds at risk represent habitats at risk. Protecting and restoring native habitat and controlling invasive species that disrupt native habitat are thus critical strategies.
--For example, a key focus in Texas is restoring native grasslands. This benefits popular game birds like bobwhite quail and rare birds like the lesser prairie chicken. Prairie habitat sustains both, and threats to that habitat are causing both to decline.
--Texas is a private land state, where 95 percent of the habitat is privately owned. Most habitat protection and restoration is done in collaboration with private landowners.
--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Joint Ventures, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program and several non-governmental organizations work with private landowners across the landscape to manage and restore grassland, wetland, estuary and coastal habitats that benefit birds of concern.
--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its partners promote bird conservation under the Texas Wildlife Action Plan and funds public and private land restoration and protection projects with the State Wildlife Grants, Landowner Incentive Program, Farm Bill programs, Upland Game Bird Stamp sales revenue, and Horned Lizard License Plate funds.
--Climate change is an emerging threat that affects birds and the habitats on which they depend by changing temperatures and rainfall which affects growing seasons, insect availability, migration patterns and timing, invasive species growth and range, and pests and diseases. Climate change can intensify existing threats.
--More than 70 species of South Texas birds such as least grebe, great kiskadee, green jay and buff-bellied hummingbird have expanded their ranges north and east. Some scientists believe this is due to climate change although expansions are also due to habitat change from fire suppression, native vegetation losses, and invasive brush encroachment. Pests and diseases are increasing in range because warmer winters reduce die-off, and parasite development rates and infectivity increase with temperature. Woody shrubs invading prairie grasslands are favored by increases in concentrations of CO2, changes in soil moisture cycles, fire suppression, and soil disturbances.
--Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is revising the Texas Wildlife Action Plan this year with our conservation partners to include a new chapter to identify next steps in climate change adaptation strategies. TPWD plans to continue emphasis on private land stewardship, undertake or expand research and monitoring to understand climate change impacts, and explore partnerships and strategies to mitigate impacts.
--Protecting and restoring native habitat and controlling invasive species are fundamental conservation actions that will also help mitigate climate change impacts, as native bird species are better able to withstand multiple pressures if they have healthy native habitat.
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