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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-09-03                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 12 months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Sept. 3, 2013
Game Wardens Grade Dove Opener A-minus, but a Few Hunters Flunked Compliance
AUSTIN - Judging by tweets from across the state received during the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Division's first virtual "ride-along" with a game warden, hunters enjoyed an A-minus mourning dove season opener.
"A lot of hunters were limiting out in the morning, and anyone who really wanted to got their limit Sunday if they hunted morning and evening," reported Lt. Mike Mitchell, the division's technology and special projects officer.
Mitchell spent Sunday riding with a game warden and reported their law enforcement activities real-time via Twitter. The wardens contacted scores of hunters, and Mitchell used a department smart phone to send 36 tweets, many accompanied by photographs and links to further information.
To join the ongoing conversation on Texas game and fish law enforcement, become a follower of the Law Enforcement Division's twitter account at Twitter.com/TexasGameWarden
While most of the bird hunters the wardens contacted Sunday were abiding by all applicable laws, Mitchell said he and his partner primarily saw three main violations.
Most prevalent was finding that a hunter had not taken a hunters education course, which is mandatory for anyone born after 1971.
The second most common offense was not having a hunting license, followed by having more than the legal limit of 15 birds. (The possession limit was increased to 45 birds this year, but that only works on the third day of the season or later.)
Each of these violations is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of from $25 to $500 plus court costs. Also, when resources are seized, the department can seek civil restitution for the value of any game confiscated.
"By far most of the hunters we contacted were in compliance and enjoying a great outdoor experience," Mitchell said.
Texas had an estimated 393,975 dove hunters contributing $177,467,664 to retail sales, according to a 2006 Economic Benefits study by Southwick Associates.
The average dove hunter is 43.7 years old, and only 6.8 percent of the hunters are female, but Mitchell said he and the other warden were heartened to see several father-son and father-daughter hunters, and some shotgun-toting moms as well.
During the middle of the day, when most dove are keeping cool in trees or on electrical and telephone lines, the wardens spent some time on the water doing boater safety and fishing checks.
Not long after resuming patrol of dove hunting areas, Mitchell got a tweet from a hunter wanting to know when the evening flight began.
The tweet came in at 3:14 p.m. so with tongue in cheek, Mitchell declared that the birds would begin flying at 3:15 p.m.
"No one knows when dove are going to fly," he said, "but I did remind the hunter that legal shooting ended at sundown, and how to locate that official time."
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[ Note: This item is more than 12 months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Robert Owen, Texas State Parks, (940) 445-0203 or Robert.owen@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Sept. 3, 2013
Texas State Parks Visitors Embrace Growing Geocaching Craze
AUSTIN - Seeking new ways to combine their children's love of digital devices with the health benefits and fun of being outdoors, many parents are turning to geocaching, a hunt for hidden "treasures," or caches, using the latest technology.
More than 90 state parks located throughout Texas are increasingly embracing such visitors by offering more than 1,074 geocaches, or prize-filled containers, which can be located online in advance or by using a Smartphone application. In addition, many state parks have begun to host Geocache 101 workshops, free with normal park entry, to teach newbies the basics of this modern day twist on an old-fashioned treasure hunt.
"There's been an 82 percent increase in the number of geocaches in our state parks in the past three years," says Robert Owen, Texas State Parks outdoor education specialist. "Geocaching is family-friendly and more accessible than ever thanks to new Smartphone technology. You no longer have to have a GPS device to find the cache locations."
Geocaching, which is the hunt for more than 3 million items hidden by people worldwide, is also supported by online communities, including www.geocaching.com. Participants find coordinates, share photos and tips, and learn all the particulars about the activity. After finding the latitude and longitude of a hidden cache , geocachers are guided to within 12 feet of its location. Then, geocachers search the surrounding terrain until they locate the "goodies" in a container that might be as small as a film canister or as large as an ammo box. These treasures are never buried, so no shovel is needed.
Youngsters will especially enjoy the Texas State Parks Geocache Challenge that kicked off Oct. 1, 2012, and is ongoing. Last year, nearly 11,000 geocache "finds" occurred in state parks alone, and hundreds of children learned interesting facts and stories about Texas history, conservation and stewardship of Texas State Parks, while also earning prizes.
For more information and to find coordinates of prize-filled caches in Texas State Parks, visit texasstateparks.org/geocache.
State parks offering an introduction to geocaching workshop this fall include:
Austin area:
--Lockhart State Park
--Inks Lake State Park
Dallas/Ft. Worth area:
--Purtis Creek State Park
--Cedar Hill State Park
--Dinosaur Valley State Park
--Lake Mineral Wells State Park
--Martin Creek State Park
Houston area workshops:
--Stephen F. Austin State Park
San Antonio area:
--Guadalupe River State Park
--Lake Corpus Christi State Park
--Goliad State Park and Historic Site
--Government Canyon State Natural Area
For geocaching news images, visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=oam_geocaching
For geocaching videos, maps, logos, PSAs and editorial content, go to: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/oam_geocaching/
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[ Note: This item is more than 12 months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Ed Hegen, TPWD Coastal Fisheries/Rockport, (361) 729-2328, ed.hegen@tpwd.texas.gov; Tom Harvey, TPWD News/Austin, (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Sept. 3, 2013
Coastwide Texas Seagrass Protection Starts This Month
AUSTIN- Beginning Sept. 1, a new law passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature takes effect all along the Texas coast, prohibiting the uprooting of seagrass with an outboard motor propeller. These measures have been taken in an effort to support the vital Texas' fisheries and promote sustainability of the state's coastal natural resources.
The importance of ensuring healthy seagrass beds goes far beyond people see from the surface of the water. The extensive root systems seagrasses establish help to stabilize the bay bottom and prevent erosion. The leaves help buffer currents and aid in water clarification and improve water quality. They also provide a hiding place for many recreationally and commercially sought after fish and shellfish. Like land vegetation, seagrasses need sunlight to photosynthesize taking in sunlight and carbon dioxide and converting it to oxygen which is used by other marine organisms. Their need for sunlight restricts them to living in in shallow waters which also makes the susceptible to damage caused by boat propellers.
Uprooting seagrass with an outboard motor propeller causes scarring in the seagrass beds that can take years to reestablish growth. Furthermore, running boats through these areas may damage the boat's motor, hull or propeller. To protect this important habitat and your boat, remember to "lift, drift, pole and troll."
A regulation has been in place since 2006 prohibited the uprooting of seagrass in the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area (RBSSA) with an outboard propeller. With this regulation in place and an extensive education and outreach effort, a 45% reduction in propeller scar in RBSSA was observed. "Based on the proven success of reduction of propeller scars in Redfish Bay Scientific Area, we are hopeful that we can educate boaters about seagrass and direct them to change boating practices to help reduce uprooting of seagrass," says Ed Hegen, TPWD -- Coastal Fisheries Regional Director in Rockport, TX.
Hegen also recommends that boaters take a boater education course which includes a section on seagrass protection and familiarize themselves with their equipment and the area they'll be boating in before heading out on the water, "Those that have learned about the value and importance of seagrasses have demonstrated they still have successful fishing trips while they protect seagrass."
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff will be supporting these coastwide efforts to protect seagrass by spreading the word handing out brochures to boaters, posting signs at boat access points, including articles and advertisements in print media, and posting billboards. State game wardens will be on the water educating the public as well as enforcing the regulation. It's important to remember, boaters have continued access to the places they've recreated in prior to the regulation -- there are no closed areas. It is the responsibility of the boater to be aware of their surroundings and to keep their propeller from digging up seagrasses as this habitat is essential in sustaining the natural resources and beauty of our Texas' bays.
For more information visit TPWD's seagrass web pages.
Boaters, anglers or others with questions about seagrass may contact: seagrass@tpwd.texas.gov
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