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MAGAZINE OF THE TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION february 2014

Yips, Yelps, Barks and Howls


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TEXAS WILDLIFE TEXAS WILDLIFE

p r e s i d e n t ’ s r e ma r k s

G RE G S I M O N S

TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126 San Antonio, TX 78247 www.texas-wildlife.org (210) 826-2904 FAX (210) 826-4933 (800) 839-9453 (TEX-WILD) OFFICERS

Predators…. Friend or Foe? Predatory animals have long caught the imagination of people, stirring emotions of fear, mystery, hate, excitement, and respect. Fact, folklore, and fiction tend to follow our Texas mammalian carnivores, and there is no other category of animals that tend to create as much broad attention, intrigue, and controversy, here in our state, and elsewhere. In Texas, though grizzlies have long been absent from the landscape, we do have a wide variety of mammalian carnivores, including the diminutive weasel, on the small end, to the Mexican black bear, on the other end, as well as coyotes, bobcats, ringtails, skunks, mountain lions, gray fox, red fox, ocelots, badgers, and several others that round out a fairly extensive list. The diversity of predators in Texas is a neat thing and is largely a function of our diverse biotic communities, made up of a variety of critters that often serve as food, or prey, for our flesh-loving fauna. The ecology of predator/prey relationships, as a function of wildlife management, has long been studied, debated, and discussed in professional peer venues, as well as around the campfire. Fact of the matter is that predator/prey relationships are dynamic, and we are still in a learning curve of understanding these ecological complexities and applying this knowledge for the benefit of landowners, ranching operations, hunters, and other stakeholders, while still respecting the intricacies and needs of the species, at hand. State and federal policies regarding predator control have been a highly combustible issue for decades. Radical environmentalists have long exercised their agendas for eliminating many traditional predator control techniques, including chemicals, traps, snares, dogs, aerial gunning, and complete abolition of legal take of some species of predators in some states. Generally, the platforms for their positions are based purely on emotion and not on the best available science, but nonetheless, these animal activists have gained significant traction in many states, eliminating or highly restricting the use of important, valuable tools from the wildlife manager’s tool box. Here in Texas, we are fortunate in that we have been able to maintain broad flexibility for landowners and wildlife managers to practice predator control in a fashion that uniquely suits their needs and desires. TWA supports the allowance of landowners having broad, reasonable choices to manage the resources of their lands, including those that relate to the management of wild carnivores. For me, personally, I am a staunch advocate of predator control as a wildlife management tool. I also enjoy taking predators coming to a call, and I greatly admire the beauty of the two mountain lions that are mounted in my office, but I also have respect and appreciation for these provocative animals and their role in the ecology of our Texas landscape. With this said, I can’t help but reflect on Aldo Leopold’s observation he made back in 1909 after he mortally wounded a wolf from a gunshot. “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain.” That was in Arizona, and we certainly live in a different era today, where we do not have room in Texas for all predators of the past, but may the good Lord give us the wisdom of “thinking like a mountain.” Wildlife stewardship requires vision that looks beyond the horizon, while “appreciating” all features that are scattered across the entire length of the landscape, including the possible roles that predators may play in this conservation equation. This issue of Texas Wildlife contains some fabulous editorial content, including three articles relating to predators and predator management. Also, Lori Cantu’s feature on habitat management reminds us that habitat is the cornerstone of sustainable wildlife, regardless of the species of interest. And, may we never forget that hunting equals habitat! You want to protect wildlife habitat, then protect hunting! Cheers!

Mission Statement of the Texas Wildlife Association

Serving Texas wildlife and its habitat, while protecting property rights, hunting heritage, and the conservation efforts of those who value and steward wildlife resources.

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Greg Simons, President, San Angelo Marcus T. Barrett IV, Vice President, San Antonio Dr. Louis Harveson, Second Vice President for Programs, Alpine J. David Anderson, Treasurer, Houston For a complete list of TWA Directors, go to www.texas-wildlife.org

PROFESSIONAL STAFF/CONTRACT ASSOCIATES Administration & Operation Gary Joiner, Chief Executive Officer Quita Hill, Director of Finance and Operations Samantha Smith, Office Administrator

Outreach & Member Services David Brimager, Director of Marketing and Partner Relations Kendra Roller, Director of Member Relations Kathy Dalgleish, Membership Coordinator

Programs Helen Holdsworth, Conservation Legacy Program Director Koy Coffer, Education Program Specialist Kassi Scheffer, Education Program Specialist Clint Faas, Conservation Program Coordinator Courtney Brittain, Web Program Consultant Mary Pearl Meuth, Education Program Contractor Lynnsey Dohmen, Education Program Contractor Leslie Wittenburg, Education Program Contractor Elanor Dean, Education Program Contractor Toni Purnell, Education Program Contractor Amanda Crouch, Education Program Contractor Justin Dreibelbis, Hunting Heritage Program Director COL(R) Jerry B. Warden, Texas Youth Hunting Program Director COL(R) Chris Mitchell, TYHP Field Operations Coordinator Barbara Scheib, TYHP Administrative Assistant Kara Starr, Hunting Heritage Program Assistant

Advocacy Joey Park, Legislative Program Coordinator

MAGAZINE CORPS Gary Joiner, Executive Editor Kim Rothe, Consulting Publications Coordinator/Editor David Brimager, Consulting Editor Lorie Woodward Cantu, Special Projects Editor Cross Timbers Marketing.com, Design & Layout Publication Printers Corp., Printing, Denver, CO

COLUMNISTS/CONTRIBUTORS Ralph Winingham Lorie Woodward Cantu Dale Rollins, Ph. D. Billy Higginbotham, Ph. D. Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management, Sul Ross State University-Alpine Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University-Nacogdoches Texas Wildlife is published monthly by Texas Wildlife Association, 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126, San Antonio, Texas 78247. E-mail address: twa@texas-wildlife.org POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Wildlife Association, 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126, San Antonio, Texas 78247. The Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) was organized in 1985 for the purpose of serving as an advocate for the benefit of wildlife and for the rights of wildlife managers, landowners and hunters in educational, scientific, political, regulatory and legislative arenas. TEXAS WILDLIFE is the official TWA publication and has widespread circulation throughout Texas and the United States. All rights reserved. No parts of these magazines may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without express written permission from the publisher. Copyrighted 2014 Texas Wildlife Association. Views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the Texas Wildlife Association. Similarities between the name Texas Wildlife Association and those of advertisers or state agencies are coincidental, and do not indicate mutual affiliation, unless clearly noted. Members who move should send new address and current membership classification to headquarters. TWA reserves the right to refuse advertising.

For advertising information, contact David Brimager at (800) 839-9453 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126, San Antonio, TX 78247 or e-mail dbrimager@texas-wildlife.org.


TEXAS WILDLIFE

Mission Impacts Mr. Chris Mitchell, My family had the pleasure of attending the TYHP #1467 at Swann Ranch this past weekend, and I want to share our gratitude with you, and Jerry Warden, as the gentlemen who guide this organization. THYP was unknown to us until leaving a Boy Scout meeting one night this past August. We had the opportunity to meet Andy Sobotka, and during our conversation, my husband mentioned that we were interested in introducing our boys to hunting. That turned out to be a most opportune conversation! Mr. Sobotka provided us with his contact information, and a few weeks later, we followed up with him, to discover the hunt he was running in Putnam, TX. Mr. Sobotka has been exceptionally helpful, providing detailed and thorough information – leaving literally no unanswered question (even the ones we did not know to ask). Using his own time, he personally met us at a range, allowed our boys to use his firearms and ammunition, and assisted the boys in qualifying for the hunt. Our experience with the volunteers who orchestrated #1467 Swann Ranch exceeded all expectations. Honestly, we did not know what to expect – however, the weekend was exceptional. The guides were incredibly patient, kind and generous with our boys. The meals were wonderful – and we had no need of the food we brought ourselves. Every component of this hunt was so well planned and executed, my husband and I both believe that we had experienced the "Gold Standard" of a TYHP event. My husband and I are interested in volunteering with your organization and hope to find a way to do so! Please thank the volunteers and let them know they helped ignite the flames for a love for hunting in two boys here in Richardson. Sincerely, Dana Ott Richardson Editor’s Note: Thank you so much, Dana, for your very kind comments about your and your family’s positive experience at the youth hunt in November. The Texas Youth Hunting Program is immensely blessed to have Huntmasters such as Andy Sobotka and its team of passionate volunteers across the state. Thank you for your interest in continuing to be a part of the program and for your interest in promoting our state’s wonderful hunting heritage.

David, It is I who is most grateful for your visit. You were wonderful with the boys, and they very much enjoyed it! I am glad that we were able to have you speak to the boys. Your work is so important. Your knowledge and dedication is impressive. I truly appreciate your time! Rachel Reyna Schertz Editor’s Note: Thank you, Rachel, for your note to TWA Director of Marketing and Partner Relations David Brimager, following his presentation to your Boy Scout group on wildlife management and the responsibility of hunting. David and the Texas Wildlife Association are grateful for the opportunity to visit with interested groups about these important topics.

february Volume 29 H Number 10 H 2014

8 Yips, Yelps, Barks and Howls by steve jester

14 Candidates Earn Support for Primary Election by Gary joiner

18 TYHP: The Mechanics of a Hunt by col(r) chris mitchell

20 TWA Region / Urban Team Leadership by gary joiner

22 Conservation Legacy: Shared Vision, Valuable Partnership by helen holdsworth

26 The Dawn of Game Management by lorie woodward cantu

28 A Water Primer by henry chappell

32 Urban Coyote Population Rising; Research Dispels Some Beliefs by colleen schreiber

36 Managing the Problem of Invasive Grass

by scott l. mitchell

38 Mistletoe — It's Not Just for Christmas by steve nelle

40 Are We Facing a "New Normal" for Wildlife Management in Texas? by steve nelle

46 Integrated Predation Management for Quail Managers by Dale rollins

MAGAZINE OF THE TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION

FEbruAry 2014

On the Cover Learn More About TWA

Scan the QR code with your smartphone to learn more about the Texas Wildlife Association or visit www.texas-wildlife.org

This image was taken by Steve Bentsen on TWA member Jim McAllen’s property during one of the Valley Land Fund Photo Contests. “The coyote was one of a group of four that drifted to the water hole where I was in a blind,” said Bentsen. “Just 30 minutes later, I had a bobcat drinking at the same spot. The McAllens’ have great wildlife habitat and photographing on their property is always rewarding.”

yips, yelps, barks and Howls

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M e e t i n gs a n d e v e n ts

For information on hunting seasons, call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (800) 792-1112, consult the 2013-2014 Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual, or visit the TPWD website at www.tpwd.state.tx.us.

february

april

February 3-7 Texas Prescribed Burn Manager Certification Training, Welder Wildlife Foundation, Sinton. Training and testing for Board Certified TDA prescribed manager certification. Sponsored by the Welder Wildlife Foundation and the Coastal Bend Prescribed Burn Association. Lodging, food and learning materials included in fee. Fee is $350. Monday, Feb. 3 will include training for Gulf Coast Prairies Region 5 Certification. The fee for this region training is $75/ For more information, log on at www.prescribedburn. org, e-mail coastalbendpa@gmail.com or call (361) 935-3030.

april 5 Harvey Weil Sportsman Conservationist Award Dinner, Welder Wildlife Foundation Refuge, Sinton, Texas. Honorees are Stuart W. Stedman, Conservationist of the Year; Ronnie Howard, Professional Conservationist of the Year; and Al Barnes, Living Legacy Award. Reservations must be made in advance. For more information, please call (361) 882-8672, email lysa@rotarycc.com, or visit www.rotarycc.com.

february 6-23 San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo. www.sarodeo.com. Your TWA will have a booth for the entire run of the show. To volunteer, please contact Helen Holdsworth at hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org or 800-TEX-WILD. february 7-9 Women of the Land, Seadrift, TX Women of the Land is a stewardship training program designed specifically for women landowners, land managers, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts. This workshop is designed to encourage women to become active land managers, develop and hone their management skills, and network with women of similar interests. For more information contact Clint Faas at cfaas@texas-wildlife.org.

april 10-11 Texas Deer Study Group, Columbus. For more information, contact Clint Faas at cfaas@texas-wildlife.org. april 23-25 Bennett Trust Land Stewardship Conference: Protecting the Legacy of the Edwards Plateau, Kerrville. For more information regarding the upcoming event, contact Dr. Larry Redmon at l-redmon@tamu.edu, or Dr. Rick Machen at r-machen@tamu. edu, or the local AgriLife Extension county agent in the region. april 25-27 4th Annual Wings Over the Hills Nature Festival, Fredricksburg. www.wingsoverthehills.org

june

February 20-22 Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society, 50th Anniversary Conference, Austin. For more information, log on to www.txchapter50th.com

june 10-12 L.A.N.D.S. Teacher/Volunteer Training (geared for grades 6-12), Temple Ranch, Freer TX. For more information contact kcoffer@texaswildlife.org or call (512) 496-1678.

march

july

march 4-8 Houston Livestock Show Ranching and Wildlife Expo. Your TWA will have a booth at the Expo. To volunteer, contact Clint Faas at cfaas@texas-wildlife.org.

july 10-13 WildLife 2014, TWA's 29th Annual Convention, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. For more information, contact David Brimager at dbrimager@texas-wildlife.org or (800) 839-9453.

the texas Wildlife association and texas a&M agriLife Extension service sponsor lunchtime webinars the third thursday of each month. If you are not able to attend the live webinar, each presentation is archived on the tWa website.

DatEs WEbINaRs fROM NOON–1 p.M. febr uar y 20 – Conservation Easements

QUEstIONs?

Contact Clint Faas at (210) 826-2904 or cfaas@texas-wildlife.org

april 17 – Patterns of Fawn Production,

Allison Elder

Dr. David Hewitt

March 20 – Invasive Grasses,

May 15 – Wildscapes,

Forrest Smith

On the day of the webinar, simply go to https://texas-wildlife.webex.com, and click on the title of the webinar you wish to attend. The webinar series provides sound, science-based wildlife management options delivered by experts to you in the comfort of your own home or office. Each web-based seminar is fully interactive and allows you to engage the experts, make comments and ask questions during the course of the presentation.

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february 2014

Jon Hayes

Kelly Simon

It’s Easy!

NO NEED tO tRaVEL!

June 19 – State and Federal Government Landowner Assistance Programs,

For first-time users of the WebEx webinar program, advance log on (up to one hour before the presentation) is recommended to address any potential problems. Users may be prompted to download WebEx software to run the program correctly. There is also a test site to setup and test WebEx any time, day or night. Please visit http://www.webex.com/test-meeting.html to join a test meeting, today.


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Yips, Yelps, Barks and Howls Article by steve jester, wildlife biologist


Photo by Russell Graves

O

ne of the most evocative sounds of the Texas landscape has to be the yips, yelps, barks and howls of coyotes. Whether positive or negative, I suspect that something stirs in all of us every time we are sitting around the fire at night and hear a coyote. Some might assume that coyotes are solely a creature of wide open spaces; but, the fact is that they are very widely distributed in Texas in both rural and urban areas. It is likely that almost every inch of Texas is part of a coyote pair territory. Even though many Texans might never hear or see one, they are likely as widely distributed in Texas as we are! Coyotes are canines and are about the size of a medium size dog (25-40 pounds). They are primarily nocturnal, although it is not rare to see them during daylight hours, particularly at dawn and dusk. They will eat just about anything, including insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, plant material such as cultivated melons, and larger mammals, including young livestock and carrion or carcasses of both livestock and wildlife. They are even known to eat fish and crustaceans like crabs and crawfish! Coyotes are monogamous, with a male and female staying together for years, and this mated pair holds a territory. Other coyotes that this pair tolerates include their young (pups) of the year, plus when prey is abundant, young from the previous year. When coyotes reach sexual maturity around age two, the territory-holding pair will force them to disburse where they can form a pair in a territory that has lost one of its dominant adults or to become transients that can range across a larger area that overlaps more than one occupied territory. Coyotes breed from January through early March, and gestation is about 65 days. Peak coyote numbers statewide occur right after whelping (birth of pups), and numbers will be reduced throughout the year due to disease, parasites, nutritional stress, cannibalism, and lack of water during droughts, among other causes. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) does not have a methodology to monitor estimated densities statewide, like they do for some game species. TPWD monitors coyotes via a fur buyer report that estimates the number of pelts sold for fur every year. However, this figure only captures a part of the annual coyote harvest, that portion accomplished by commercial trapping or shooting. Coyotes are also harvested by recreational predator hunters

and landowners who have no intent of selling pelts and are not required to have a trapper’s license. In fact, if a coyote is “attacking, about to attack, or has recently attacked livestock or other domestic animals,” a hunting license is not required for take. Even though TPWD does not track data, there is some data available that provides an estimate of relative density across the state, and that is the data collected by Texas Wildlife Services (TWS). TWS is part of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that cooperates very closely with state agencies and local governments in addressing wildlife impacts (such as those related to agriculture, human health and transportation safety), including damage by predators, such as coyotes. Mike Bodenchuk is state director for TWS, and his agency is the one that works most closely with coyotes in the state. According to control data collected by the agency, Bodenchuk estimates that the total number of Texas coyotes typically ranges from about 270,000 in March, just prior to whelping, to about 500,000 in April, just after the pups are born. “A stable coyote population will fluctuate up to 60 percent in a single year,” says Bodenchuk. Coyote density is not uniform across the state, however. “Currently, we estimate that the lowest density of coyotes is found in the Hill Country and the highest in South Texas,” Bodenchuk says. The differences are huge, with an estimated 0.5 coyote per square mile in the Hill Country and 6.0 coyotes per square mile in South Texas. This difference in density is a result in a difference in prey and other food items. As stated previously, coyotes are extremely elastic in their food habits; and, in South Texas, they use such food items as prickly pear fruits (tuna). More food leads to higher pup survival and more coyotes, and also smaller territories, with some pack territories in South Texas being as small as one square mile. There are certainly more coyotes today than there were in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Bodenchuk’s agency has records on coyotes taken by their trappers summarized for decades; and, even as recently as 40 years ago, there were few, if any, coyotes in the Edwards Plateau (Hill Country). This can be primarily attributed to two factors. First, landowner use of their land was very much different than today. Sheep and goats were much more common on the range, and as coyotes can

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Photo by Steve Bentsen

be very efficient predators of these classes of livestock, they were more universally controlled, both by landowner efforts and by the cooperative system of USDA county trappers. (Only 103 Texas counties currently have a “resident government trapper,” greatly reduced from previous decades.) Second, in 1972, chemical toxicants were banned as a tool of coyote control. Until 1972, the agency that is now TWS maintained one toxicant bait station per township (36 square miles or 23,040 acres). It should be noted that coyote numbers, while higher, do appear to have stabilized statewide, as all available habitat has been filled. “Every inch of Texas is probably part of a coyote territory, except some may be unoccupied because of water availability or because it is paved,” says Bodenchuk. “Although, the city of San Antonio does not have too much pavement and is occupied by coyotes.” However, just like all other species of wildlife, coyotes are not immune to the impacts of natural disturbances, such as drought. For example, on the heels of the extreme drought and heat of 2011, TWS 2012 coyote harvest fell about 15 percent below the 10-year average, which indicates that fewer young survived, due to lack of both food and water sources. Texans’ relationship with coyotes has

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certainly changed since the 1940s and 50s. In some ways, they are probably more tolerated than in years past, but there are still concerns, and even the concerns have evolved. While there are fewer sheep and goat operations, many more landowners have income streams that include a healthy dose of dollars from deer and turkey hunters, and they are less concerned about coyote impacts on livestock, but they can be concerned about their impact on game species. There are also recreational hunters who pursue coyotes, some almost exclusively. There still remains a market for coyote pelts, but like the fur market as a whole, it remains very volatile and much smaller than in decades past. Coyote hunting, for recreation or for pelts, has a long history in Texas. Initially, recreational coyote hunting was primarily with dogs such as greyhounds; but in the 1950s and 1960s, a new form of coyote hunting began to take hold. It was during these decades and the ones that followed that varmint hunting using, first, mouth calls, and later, electronic calls, became an important part of the hunting landscape. If you grew up hunting in Texas in the 1960s, 70s and 80s like I did, you are probably very familiar with the names of Burnham and Stewart, family names and parts of company names that really helped to propel predator

february 2014

calling to great popularity, both in Texas and across the country. TWA member Gerald Stewart grew up in the business started by his father Johnny in 1961, and he remains as a consultant to the company, since its sale in 1999. “If call sales were any indication, the popularity of predator hunting, including coyotes, largely followed trends in the fur market for our first 30 years.” said Stewart. “Sales rose and fell on the strength of demand for furs.” It was in the 1990s that predator or varmint hunting began to detach from cycles in the fur trade. “From 1993 to 1999, when we sold the company, sales growth was tremendous, averaging almost a 25 percent annual increase, but this was not just in Texas, predator calling was gaining popularity nationally,” says Stewart. Predator hunting was a “hunting season extender” for many hunters that typically pursued other game, but it has also developed into the primary hunting pursuit for some. Predator hunting remains popular, as Stewart says: “The company that bought us also has several other call lines, and their predator call sales have surpassed waterfowl and pulled even with turkey sales, in recent years.” Long before there was sport hunting of coyotes, and regardless of the sale price of pelts, landowners have pursued coyotes for


Long before there was sport hunting of coyotes, and regardless of the sale price of pelts, landowners have pursued coyotes for economic reasons. The coyote’s flexible food habits, intelligence and adaptability have brought them into conflict with livestock producers, melon farmers, producers of exotic wildlife, and landowners seeking to manage game animal populations. economic reasons. The coyote’s flexible food habits, intelligence and adaptability have brought them into conflict with livestock producers, melon farmers, producers of exotic wildlife, and landowners seeking to manage game animal populations. Jim Brooks was a TWS county trapper in Menard County for 15 years. He has been trapping since he was 8 years old, and he continues to work in private control work since leaving TWS. He can remember growing up in Marble Falls in the early 1960s when a report of a single coyote was a big deal. Today, he spends a lot of time trying to transfer some of the knowledge he has gained over the decades to landowners who are facing predator losses. “First, a landowner has to determine what is causing his problem,” says Brooks. “Is it coyotes, bobcats or feral dogs?” he asks. It is not always easy. “Coyote pups will often kill like feral dogs; mature coyotes kill much more efficiently,” says Brooks. Even when you have confirmed coyotes as the problem,

Photo by Steve Bentsen

Photo by Russell Graves

Photo courtesy of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

c o y o tes

just removing coyotes generally will likely not solve your problems. “You have to be able to remove the coyotes that are causing the damage, and more likely than not, a landowner new to trapping may just end up making the problem coyote smarter,” says Brooks. In fact, he spends a lot of time now working on problem coyotes that landowners, primarily those that raise exotic wildlife, have spent some time educating, before calling in help. Bodenchuk with TWS echoed these thoughts and also pointed out that at TWS, they approach the control of coyotes taking exotic or native wildlife differently than those taking livestock. “Yearlings and pups do not do much wildlife damage to deer or exotics; it is the territory-holding coyotes that do most of the damage, and those are the ones you have to try and catch, if it is a wildlife issue,” he said. Broad-scale coyote control, as opposed to targeted coyote control, in the name of reducing wildlife damage, particularly, is probably not very

effective. Probably, one of the biggest potential impacts of coyotes on Texans may be largely unknown to many. In the mid-1990s, a strain of rabies was running rampant in South Texas coyotes, and it was moving north towards San Antonio. The human health risk was very real, and some 800 people had to be treated for post-exposure coyote rabies, prior to the initiation of a concentrated vaccination effort. To combat this outbreak, TWS and the Texas Department of State Health Services began an aerial vaccination program (Oral Rabies Vaccination Program), delivering baits via aircraft to vaccinate coyotes in the wild. The program sought, initially, to keep infected animals from reaching San Antonio, and treatment efforts began across South Texas, from west to east, just north of the northern edge of the outbreak. The aerial delivery of vaccine within fish meal baits was very successful. As an area was “cleared” of infected coyotes, the treatment

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Photo by Steve Bentsen

for some ranchers and farmers, and an animal that does fill an important ecological niche in its role as scavenger and predator of small mammals, you can count on hearing from Texans many yips of appreciation, and many howls of disdain, for coyotes, in decades yet to come. Steve Jester resides in Blanco, Texas, and he is a regular contributor to Texas Wildlife. He is currently the executive director of Partners for Conservation and has worked as a wildlife biologist and conservationist for state fish and game agencies, nonprofit organizations and as a private consultant for over 20 years. He has worked extensively in Texas, as well as throughout the western and southeastern US.

Photo by Steve Bentsen

band was moved south. This movement of the treatment band south continued over the next several years, until a buffer of 35 miles was reached north of the border. This 35-mile deep buffer strip continues to be treated annually, as rabies in coyotes remains a concern in Mexico. The program has been effective, with the last person having to receive post-exposure treatment in 2003 and with the last confirmed rabid coyote documented in 2006. This is particularly impressive given the nature of the outbreak. As Bodenchuk related: “This outbreak was different from many wildlife rabies outbreaks in that it did not spread from one or several focal points. Rather, it advanced north along a broad front in South Texas. Cases were occurring both along the northern advance and behind the line of advance.� Coyote rabies may not have been eradicated in South Texas, but it has certainly become very hard to find. Coyotes will likely remain a fixture of the landscape of Texas for the foreseeable future. With no predators other than man, and plenty of prey in most years, we should hear their barks and yips for many years, for better or worse. Like no other Texas wildlife species, they are truly a knife that cuts both ways. Popular with predator hunters, an economic concern

Photo by Russell Graves

c o y o tes


Why i am a TWA MeMber! I am a TWA member because I support and am committed to the vision, mission and goals of our organization to promote, protect and affirm Texas landowner rights. My most important purpose is introducing youth in cities across Texas to the fun, beauty, adventure and the diversity of nature that surrounds them. I am totally committed to the Texas Youth Hunting Program as a Huntmaster and instructor, promoting Our Hunting Heritage, safe and ethical hunting, while developing outdoor skills that will last a lifetime.

John Miller III houston, tx

MEMBER sInCE 2007 / tWA DIRECtoR / tWA ExECutIvE CoMMIttEE MEMBER / tWA MEMBERshIp CoMMIttEE Co-ChAIR / tYhp ADvIsoRY CoMMIttEE MEMBER / tExAs Youth huntIng pRogRAM huntMAstER


i ss u e s a n d A d v o c a c y

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Candidates Earn Support for Primary Election

TWA and TWA Political Action Committee Announce Selections for March 4 Party Primaries Article by

T

gary joiner

he Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas Wildlife Association Political Action Committee (TWAPAC) have announced support for federal and state candidates in the March 4 Primary Election. TWA members and supporters are encouraged to consider these candidates as they cast their ballot in the Democratic or Republican Primary elections. Early voting for the Primary Election begins on February 18. The slate of candidates for the March 4 Primary Election represents the first candidate evaluation cycle in 2014. Additional

Glenn Hegar

J Allen Carnes

FEDERAL U.S. Senator . ..........................................................Sen. John Cornyn (R) STATE Statewide Governor ......................................................................... Greg Abbott (R) Lieutenant Governor......................................Gov. David Dewhurst (R) Comptroller of Public Accounts...................................Glenn Hegar (R) Commissioner of General Land Office...................George P. Bush (R) Commissioner of Agriculture....................................J Allen Carnes (R) Railroad Commissioner............................................Malachi Boyuls (R) Chief Justice, Supreme Court............. Chief Justice Nathan Hecht (R) Texas Senate Senate District 2........................................................ Sen. Bob Deuell (R) Senate District 25........................................... Sen. Donna Campbell (R) Senate District 31....................................................... Sen. Kel Seliger (R) Texas House of Representatives House District 8......................................................Rep. Byron Cook (R) House District 12.......................................................Rep. Kyle Kacal (R) House District 13............................................... Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R)

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TEXAS WILDLIFE

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candidate evaluations will be completed in advance of any Primary Run-Off Election on May 27 and in advance of the General Election on November 4. The Texas Wildlife Association considers statements of support for candidates of federal office, while the TWAPAC considers financial support and/or statements of support for candidates of state office (the TWAPAC is a registered state political action committee). Candidates selected for TWA and TWAPAC support are first recommended by the TWA Legislative Committee and then approved by TWA Officers.

Chief Justice Nathan Hecht

House District 16.............................................................Will Metcalf (R) House District 31..................................................Rep. Ryan Guillen (D) House District 43.................................................... Rep. J.M. Lozano (R) House District 46..............................................Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D) House District 53......................... Rob Henneke (R), Andrew Murr(R) House District 54......................................Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R) House District 56............................. Rep. Charles “Doc� Anderson (R) House District 58..................................................... DeWayne Burns (R) House District 60........................................................Rep. Jim Keffer (R) House District 64...........................................Rep. Myra Crownover (R) House District 71......................................................Rep. Susan King (R) House District 72....................................................Rep. Drew Darby (R) House District 73....................................................Rep. Doug Miller (R) House District 74............................................Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D) House District 80..................................................... Rep. Tracy King (D) House District 87.......................................................Rep. Four Price (R) House District 99................................................ Rep. Charlie Geren (R) House District 102...............................................Rep. Stefani Carter (R) House District 105..................................Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R) House District 121...................................................... Rep. Joe Straus (R)


primary election announcement

I S S U E S A N D A D V OC A CY

Support the TWAPAC! The Texas Wildlife Association Political Action Committee (TWAPAC) helps promote a favorable political climate in Texas for TWA’s policy interests and objectives. Contributions from the TWAPAC enhance TWA’s voice in the public arena and provide the organization State Rep. Doug Miller (second from left) is presented a TWAPAC campaign with clout on im- contribution at an appreciation event in Fredericksburg. portant issues. The TWAPAC is a vehicle for supporting of- and the TWAPAC is an important tool for ficeholders and candidates who understand TWA and its advocacy efforts. Please consider supporting the TWAPAC TWA’s mission and share TWA’s values and with a voluntary contribution today! There principles. is no minimum contribution amount Every The marketplace of ideas in the Texas podollar of support is greatly appreciated! litical arena is more competitive than ever,

J Allen Carnes (r) is presented a TWAPAC campaign contribution at a meeting of the TWA Executive Committee at the TWA office in San Antonio.

Only personal credit cards and personal checks (made payable to TWAPAC) can be used to make a contribution. Please note contributions or gifts to the TWAPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal Income Tax purposes. Mail to: Texas Wildlife Association 3660 Thousand Oaks, Suite 126 San Antonio, Texas 78247 Or call: (210) 826-2904

TWA Congratulates Hughes and Friedkin for TPW Commission Appointments The Texas Wildlife Association congratulates TWA President's Council Member Dan Allen Hughes Jr. of San Antonio for his appointment as Chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and TWA Life Member Dan Friedkin of Houston for his designation as Chairman Emeritus of the Commission. Both decisions were announced on December 20 by Gov. Rick Perry. Hughes will serve for a term to expire at the pleasure of the governor. Friedkin most recently served as Chairman of the Commission, and he will continue to serve as a Commissioner through the remainder of his term that ends in February 2017. TWA Life Member Lee Bass of Fort Worth also remains a Chairman Emeritus of the Commission. "Texas' important wildlife resources, and the benefits associated with those resources, could not be in better hands with Dan Allen Hughes Jr. serving as Chairman and Dan Friedkin serving as Chairman Emeritus of Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission," said

Dan Allen Hughes Jr.

Dan Friedkin

TWA President Greg Simons of San Angelo. "Both of these individuals have provided years of leadership in the conservation arena, as landowners, hunters, stewards of the resource, and as passionate wildlife enthusiasts. I'm confident that they will lead the Commission in making good decisions in what's in the best interest of Texas wildlife, benefitting today's generation, as well as those who come behind us." Hughes is president of Dan A. Hughes Company LP, Hupecol Operating LLC, and Hupecol Italia LLC, and is a member of the board of directors for Maverick American

Natural Gas, Hupecol Italia LLC and Raven Pipeline Company LLC. He is a member of the Texas A&M University College of Geosciences Advisory Council, Sul Ross State University Borderlands Research Institute Advisory Board and All American Wildcatters. Hughes received a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University. Friedkin is chairman and CEO of The Friedkin Group, a privately held consortium of businesses and investments, including Gulf States Toyota. He is a trustee of the Wildlife Conservation Society and board member of the Texas A&M University Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. In addition to his conservation work in Texas, he also co-founded and now runs The Friedkin Conservation Fund, a charitable organization established to conserve the habitat and wildlife in over seven million acres of Tanzania. Friedkin received a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a Master of Business Administration from Rice University.

www.texas-wildlife.org

15


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17


H u n t i n g H e r i tag e

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Texas Youth Hunting Program –

The Mechanics of a Hunt Article by | COL(R) chris mitchell

Photos from | TYHP Archives

O

ne of the most frequent questions we receive at the Texas Youth Hunting Program is: “So, how does it work?” The inquirers want to know how a hunt is run, who runs the hunt, what is provided, what to bring and so on. We thought we would take this opportunity, as deer season has just closed, and spring turkey season is just around the corner, to discuss the mechanics of a hunt. What goes into planning a hunt, preparing for a hunt and executing a hunt? The key players are the Huntmaster, The Cook, and the Guides/ hunt educators. First, let’s assume the basics are set. A gracious landowner has agreed to host some number of youths on his or her property. A trained Huntmaster has walked the landowner through the process, an agreement has been signed between the landowner and TYHP, and the hunt has been posted to www.tyhp.org. And, across Texas, and even out of state, young people and their parents are applying for hunts.

The Huntmaster

The Huntmaster is the key component in the planning stage. The Huntmaster gets the ball rolling. He or she must recruit the staff necessary to run the hunt. The Huntmaster has to find people for two vital areas, cooking and guides/educators. Of all the positions that can exist in running a hunt, these two stand out as the most time consuming and require the most dedication. The Huntmaster and the cook differ from all the other positions, due to the continuous demands placed on them during the threeday hunt period; and, most importantly, the preparation time leading up to the hunt. Hunt guides and education volunteers also require preparation to successfully complete their tasks, but the time they spend is easily eclipsed by the time spent in preparation by the Huntmaster and the cook. On average,

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TEXAS WILDLIFE

guides and education volunteers donate about 40 hours of their time to complete a hunt. A Huntmaster and a cook donate a minimum of 65 hours to complete a hunt. The basic timeline for the hunt is listed below: 12 weeks out: Plan the youth hunt, recruit volunteers and obtain supplies and equipment. 6 weeks out: Post the Youth Hunt Announcement on the website. 4 weeks out: Check website for selected hunters. Call each hunter, and exchange information. 2 weeks out: Maintain contact with selected hunters. Replace hunters who cancel, with help from the TYHP professional staff in San Antonio. 1 week out: Assemble supplies and food. Make a final check with the landowner, volunteers, youth hunters, and TYHP.

The Cook

All TYHP hunts provide meals. Its basic axiom is that no one goes away hungry. The cook can make or break a hunt. Good plentiful meals can assure a good hunt, regardless of the harvest totals. Cooks have to be prepared for the

february 2014

full spectrum of cooking conditions. Some hunts are conducted at world-class locations, with all the comforts of home and or even restaurant-quality kitchens. Others are completely rustic, where all food and water is brought in for the hunts. There must be a plan for clean food storage, food preparation, meal serving and post-meal clean up. Even the smallest of hunts will have at least 15 people; and, that does not count visitors such as game wardens, biologists and landowners. A cook is constantly calculating portions and headcounts to make sure no one gets slighted. If the hunt is remote, then all contingency feeding supplies must already be on hand. Food, stoves, water, coolers for storage, ice, utensils and all supplies for serving meals, and even a place to prepare and serve meals, may be part of the planning and preparation for a hunt. The cook plans out his or her menu for the hunt period. Typically, the hunters and parents arrive after school on Friday. The Huntmaster will advise people to eat Friday evening before they arrive. Four meals and snacks are the most common schedule for TYHP cooks. Early Saturday and Sunday morning, as the hunters head out, the cook


the mechanics of a hunt

will have “grab and go” type foods available. Fruit, toaster pastries, breakfast bars and water are ready for the hunters, guides and parents to take with them. During the hunt, the cook prepares a brunch-time meal. This late breakfast allows for time to process any animals taken during the morning hunt. After the first meal, the cook supervises the clean up and immediately begins to prepare lunch, while the hunters participate in education activities. The Saturday evening meal preparation begins while the hunters are out for the evening hunt; and, like the morning hunt, the meal is served at a convenient time between processing animals. The Sunday late breakfast follows the Saturday schedule. The only difference is that, as soon as the meal is complete, it is time to pack up the kitchen and depart for home.

Guides and Educators

These positions can actually be the same person. A volunteer may guide a hunter in the morning and be the lead instructor for the educational activates between hunts. Ideally, the Huntmaster has arranged a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist or game warden to attend and serve as all or part of the education during a hunt. Outdoor skills trails are a staple in TYHP, but instruction on camping, outdoor survival, primitive fire starting techniques, rifle cleaning, game meat preparation, field dressing game animals, and even fishing, are routinely conducted during hunts. Regardless of the activity, those in charge of education must have all teaching aids and supplies arranged to conduct their classes. Hands-on activities are a must, and the outdoors is a great laboratory for exploration. The educator must have a clear plan, make it fun and engaging, and do

HUNTING HERITAGE

his or her homework. A tremendous amount of energy goes into completing a hunt. Most Huntmasters, cooks and guides/hunt educators will tell you that they do not have to be rocked to sleep after a weekend hunt. Now, consider that these volunteers do all this work, in addition to their regular work responsibilities,; they dedicate 40 hours during the hunt, at a minimum, and then show up at their workplace on Monday. Fortunately for TYHP and for Texas, youth hunts are a labor of love, and these volunteers do it again and again.

If you would like to learn more about the Texas Youth Hunting Program and expeience a youth hunt, please visit www.tyhp.org or call (800) 460-5494.

TEXAS YOUTH HUNTING PROGRAM LANDOWNER HONOR ROLL 2P Farms 4B Ranch 96 Ranch AC Ranch Ahrens Ranch Back Porch Ranch Bar 3 Ranch Beckmann Ranch Behringer Ranch Birdwell/Clark Ranch Bradley Ranch Buck Haven Ranch Buck Valley Ranch Buvens Ranch Cave Creek WMA Chapman 4C Ranches Cherry Springs WMA Deer Haven Ranch Diamond Y Ranch Dittmar Ranch Dobbs Run Ranch Double A Ranch Double H Ranch Double R Ranch Eckhardt Ranch El Rancho Gallo Ellis Llano Ranch

 

EOB Ranch Faulkner Ranch Flagler Ranch Flint Creek Ranch Fox Ranch Franklin Family Ranch Freeman Ranch Gerry Stearns Memorial Youth Hunt Gesch Ranch Gonzales 1100 Ranch Guenther Ottmers Ranch Hapgood Ranch Henderson Ranch High Lonesome Ranch Hixon Ranch Hunke Ranch Isaac ranch JBS Wetland Center/ Rosewood Seagoville Ranch Jess Womack Memorial Youth Hunt JJOB Ranch John Boerschig Ranch Jourdanton Atascosa Ranch

Katy Prairie Conservancy Kerrville Schreiner Park King Ranch, Inc. Klein Ranch Kyote Ranch Laguna Atascosa NWR Las Colinas Ranch Lavaca-Navidad River Authority Little Blanco Ranch Loma Vista Ranch Louie Schreiner Memorial Hunt Lucky 7 Ranch Lyssy Farms Maloff Ranch McElroy Ranch McLean Bowman Ranch Meis Ranch Meyers Ranch Meyers Spring Ranch Millican Reserve Mooar Ranch/ Bullard-Windmill Moody Ranch Morgan Brothers Land Company

Moss Creek Ranch Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area Ottmers Farms Paloma Cattle Company Panther Creek Ranch Pierce Campbell Memorial Hunt Pine Island Hunt Club Rancho 3 Hijos Red Wing Ranch Redstone Ranch Reed and Stewart Ranch Rock Pile Ranch Rocker B Ranch Salado Creek Ranch San Bernard NWR San Pedro Ranch Santa Elvira Segner Ranch Sierra Mesa Ranch Sinor Ranch Smith Ranch San Saba State of Colorado Steinbring Ranch Stockton Farm Stone Ledge Ranch

Stonewall Valley Ranch Summers EL Ranchito Ranch Summers Martinena Ranch T Bar S Ranch Teepee Creek Ranch Texas Wild Wood Timmins Ranch Twin Raven Ranch U Ranch Wade Watkins Ranch Warden’s Eagles Nest Welder Wildlife Refuge Wilbeck Ranch Wildcat Mountain Ranch Wilson/Murry Ranch Woodward Ranch Wulff Brady Creek Ranch Yegua Creek Cattle Co. Ranch Yellow Wolf Creek Ranch YMCA Robert’s Ranch Zimmerman Ranch

If you are providing youth hunting opportunities on your land or leases, we want to add you to the Landowner Honor Roll. If your name is missing, please let us know. To be added, please call us at (800) 460-5494.

www.texas-wildlife.org

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twa m e m b e r s i n a c t i o n

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

2014 Texas Wildlife Association Region/Urban Team Leadership

Statewide Membership Chairs: Jackie Serbus, Membership Co-Chair 940- 328-5542 • jackieserbus@gmail.com John Miller, III, Membership Co-Chair cochoutx@yahoo.com

Regional Chair/Co-Chair: Region 1- Trans-Pecos

Misty Sumner Liz Beam Daulton Beam Brent Charlesworth

mmiissttyy@aol.com lizbeam@gmail.com daulton.beam@yahoo.com brent@paisanocattle.com

Region 2- Panhandle

Ken Cearley

ken@cornerstoneranchingsolutions.com

Region 3- Cross Timbers

Ray Henicke Russ Hayward Jeffrey Bozeman Blake Behrens

rayhenicke@yahoo.com rhayward@sbcglobal.net boze@orwcpa.com blakebehrens@crockettnationalbank.com

Region 4- Edwards Plateau Team Austin

Dr. Dan McBride Bill Knolle Vacant

danlinmc@tstar.net wmk@khkclaw.com

Region 5-Post Oak Savannah Team Dallas

Jeff Gunnels Dr. Jim Cathey Stephen Hill

Jeffrey.Gunnels@tpwd.texas.gov jccathey@ag.tamu.edu hill2222@sbcglobal.net

Region 6-Pineywoods

Jackie Harker Steven Harker Mark Kidd

Jharker10@gmail.com Sharker99@gmail.com mark@mkiddproperties.com

Region 7- Coastal Prairies

Robin Walker Bill Walker

walker@walkerfortexas.com walker@walkertexasrancher.com

Region 8- South Texas

Whit Jones

wwjonesiii@aol.com

Team San Angelo

Team Houston

Upcoming TWA Membership Receptions Pearsall, Thursday, February 20th

Corpus Christi, TBA

Midland-Odessa, Thursday, February 27th

Houston, TBA

Lubbock, Friday, June 6th

Dallas/Fort Worth, TBA

Kerrville, Friday, August 8th If you are interested in attending or serving on a planning committee for any of the above receptions, please contact Kendra Roller at kroller@texas-wildlife.org. Also, if you have interest in hosting a TWA reception in your city, please let us know.

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TEXAS WILDLIFE

february 2014


2014 TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION’S ANNUAL MEETING AND EXHIBITS

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c o n s e r vat i o n l e ga c y

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Shared Vision, Valuable Partnership Article by helen holdsworth Photos by helen holdsworth, Mary pearl meuth and submitted by students

S

ince 2004, San Antonio Livestock Exposition, Inc. (S.A.L.E.) has been a key partner in enabling the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation to expand existing and deploy new conservation education programs across the state of Texas. Born from

a shared vision of a Texas lead by citizens educated about our state’s bountiful natural resources, S.A.L.E. and TWA’s Conservation Legacy program have educated over 1.1 million Texans about our state’s abundant and diverse wildlife and natural resources. The Conservation Legacy program includes a wide range of educational services, from public events, like the San An- Dana Northern and students, Crosby Elementary tonio Stock Show & Rodeo, to classroom presentations to land manage- School has developed an aquatics program ment field days and webinars. at his school. The funds will be used to cover S.A.L.E. has also generously funded teach- the final expenses of a four-year project to er and college scholarships. In the fall of build a functional aquatic research center 2013, five $10,000 college scholarships were on campus that will be available for student awarded to college freshman: two at Texas learning for decades to come. This facility A&M University, one at Cisco College, and has been designed and built by the students. two at Texas Tech University. In seven years, Dana Northern of Crosby Elementary was S.A.L.E. has contributed $290,000 in college the second teacher awarded $2,500 for her scholarships through this partnership. school project. To complement the learnTwo teachers were awarded scholarships ing that occurs indoors, students will design for their schools in 2013, instituting in- and build an outdoor learning area that will novative natural resource education in the include a butterfly and hummingbird habiclassroom. Greg Schwab at Pleasanton High tat and a purple martin house. Students will

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TEXAS WILDLIFE

february 2014

Aquatic Science project, Pleasanton High School


making a difference

2013 Scholarship Winner Stefanie Wolf

CONSERVATION LEGACY

Students will have the unique opportunity to observe adaptations, such as the specialized movements of dragonfly wings. Purple martin house observations will allow students to observe behaviors of young birds and their parents. Outdoor learning creates excitement among the students, which bolsters learning and expands their horizons. This 10-year partner2013 Scholarship Winner 2013 Scholarship Winner ship between S.A.L.E. Meagan Hooker Skyler Henderson and TWA’s Conservation Legacy program has proplace a camera on the purple mar- vided numerous youth and adults the optin house to document the activities portunity to be educated and empowered occurring in and around the house. with knowledge of fundamental, sciencePictures will be uploaded to the based ecological principles, and it fosters a classroom webpage and school dis- connection to the land. Creating tangible retrict website. lationships with the outdoors through these programs creates a natural resource literate citizen, which is so important to the mission Greg Schwab (l) and Pleasanton High of S.A.L.E., TWA and the Texas Wildlife AsSchool Principal Dr. Matthew Mann accept S.A.L.E. Teacher Award. sociation Foundation.

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www.texas-wildlife.org

23


DON’t Miss the bat exhibit & raptor project – new for 2014!

You may know the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo hosts one of the most prestigious professional rodeos in the world. You may also know we have one of the world’s largest junior livestock shows and that we support agriculture and education to develop the youth of Texas. But did you know that we encourage responsible management and the use of our beautiful Texas wildlife and natural resources through the Texas Wildlife Expo? Through interactive educational exhibits and hands-on demonstrations that make learning fun for the entire family, you’ll see that our commitment to Texas youth just comes natural.

Follow Us On

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TEXAS WILDLIFE

february 2014


Texas Wildlife Association Foundation, Inc. Ensuring a legacy of conservation and a heritage of hunting through education.

TWAF is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that was organized in 1991 to serve as a funding source for conservation education and research programs directly related to the foundation’s mission. TWAF does not participate in lobbying efforts and does not engage in political activities, allowing it to solely focus on its educational mission. TWAF has a close relationship with TWA, which is active in the political arena and has an effective issues and advocacy program. Both organizations work to continue to create, establish, and introduce innovative approaches to achieving agriculture and natural resource literacy and foster life-long learning for students of all ages. The Need As Texans become more and more disconnected from the land, the need for natural resource education dramatically increases. Natural resource illiteracy threatens us all. TWAF provides a solution by funding TWA education programs and participating with various partnerships to ensure healthy habitats, train conservation ambassadors, and equip the leaders of tomorrow. TWAF puts nature within people’s reach and helps Texans understand the value of natural resources. The education and outreach programs of TWA that are supported by TWAF are divided into two main categories: Conservation Legacy – Empowers and educates Texans with the fundamental tools necessary to facilitate natural resource literacy and foster a relationship with the outdoors. Hunting Heritage – Supports the proud tradition of hunting and recognizes its place in conservation. Mission Statement Texas Wildlife Association Foundation, Inc. increases natural resource literacy and promotes conservation and educational programs that connect Texans to the land.

www.texas-wildlife.org

25


Photo by Hardy Jackson

Game Management

The central thesis of game management is this: game can be restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it - ax, plow, cow, fire, and gun...; Management is their purposeful and continuing alignment. ~ Aldo Leopold, Game Management, 1933

The Dawn of Game Management ARticle by lorie woodward cantu

editor’s note: This is the first installment in a six-part series examining Aldo Leopold’s Thesis of Game Management and its application in 21st Century Texas.

B

y the end of the 1920s, Americans began to realize the country’s natural heritage was in jeopardy: the buffalo were not coming back; the passenger pigeon was gone; and only 25,000 pronghorn, 50,000 elk and 500,000 white-tailed deer remained in the United States. “In the early 1930s, the idea of conservation, in general, was young, but the notion of game management was almost non-existent,” said Steve Nelle, a 35-year veteran NRCS range conservationist, who is now retired and working as a consultant. “There were no college degrees in wildlife management, no professors researching or studying game management.” Then, in 1933, while Franklin D. Roosevelt was ushering in the New Deal, the Dust Bowl was swallowing up the nation’s bread

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TEXAS WILDLIFE

basket, and others only fretted about the future of wildlife in America, Aldo Leopold fathered the new science of game management. He was a graduate of Yale’s Forestry School, and his laboratory was a depleted farm in central Wisconsin. “Leopold, through his observations, not only seized upon the idea of actively managing game for its benefit, but realized the same tools that had once caused harm could be used for progress, if the goals were changed,” Nelle said. “Then, he condensed the primary principles of an entire field into a two-statement thesis. That is true genius.” One of the beauties of Leopold’s tool box is it is representational, meaning the actual tools change, as technology and techniques advance. Today, the ax represents the tools, either mechanical or chemical, necessary to manage woody plants, whether they are trees in the forest or brush on the rangelands. The plow represents activities that involve seeding, such as installing food plots or reintro-

february 2014

ducing native plants. The cow represents the impact of planned livestock grazing, regardless of species. Fire is prescribed burning in both hot and cold seasons. And the gun represents the recognition of carrying capacity and population management. “The tool box analogy is probably overused, but only because it works,” Nelle said. “Carpenters own a variety of tools, but they don’t use them all on every job, and neither should land managers. A tool, whether it’s a hammer, a chisel, or a saw or an excavator, a drip torch or a herd of cattle, is only effective if it chosen to do an appropriate job and then applied with skill.” As the science of wildlife management matured over the past 80 years, the tools and the thesis have stood the test of time. For many wildlife professionals and landowners, the thesis has become a foundational tenet. “For many wildlife managers, Leopold’s Thesis of Game Management is as central to their philosophical framework as John 3:16


is for practicing Christians,” said Nelle. While the tools and their application garner the lion’s share of attention given to the thesis, it is important that three key words – creative, purposeful, and continuing – not be overshadowed, he said. Leopold recognized creativity – the ability to see the problem and the solution in a new way – was an essential component for success, Nelle said. By choosing the word “purposeful,” Leopold made it clear that successful wildlife management was not a happenstance, but a deliberate decision to move toward a clear goal. Finally, Leopold knew that wildlife management was not a one-time, one-solution proposition, but an ongoing process, because Mother Nature doesn’t sit still. As an example of Leopold’s words in action, Nelle once worked with a Kimble County landowner who wanted to re-establish Indiangrass on his ranch, despite the fact that very little Indiangrass still remained on his land. Indiangrass seed is expensive and relatively hard to establish, so purchasing large quantities of seed and broadcasting it was out of the question. The solution came to the landowner as he was grubbing cedar. He noticed that when he uprooted a tree, he exposed and disturbed a small patch of soil, enriched by years of decaying needle litter. He began hand planting Indiangrass seed in each disturbance, giving the seed the benefit of the extra nutrients and moisture that had been trapped beneath the cedar. Over time, because of his deliberate purposeful steps toward the goal, the landowner has established small stands of Indiangrass throughout the ranch. While the ranch will not be covered by Indiangrass in the landowner’s lifetime, he is taking incremental, positive steps toward his goal and making ecological progress. Interestingly, the Thesis of Game Management appears in the Preface of Leopold’s first book, Game Management, not in the closing pages. “For most people, achieving the simple brilliance of the thesis would have been the end of their work, but for Leopold, it was the jumping off point for his thoughts,” Nelle said. “To me, this demonstrates that Leopold really believed that wildlife management – and the study of wildlife management – was not a one-time proposition, but a continuous process of evaluation, adjustment and progress, built on experience.”

Points to Ponder:

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other is that heat comes from the furnace. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County, Almanac, 1949 We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. Aldo Leopold To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River At what point will governmental conservation, like the mastodon, become handicapped by its own dimensions? Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic

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TWA

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exmark

TWA members receive 5 percent off any new Exmark mower. TWA receives 2 percent of each member’s purchase to support its mission. All purchases must be made through a Texas dealer, which can be found at www.exmark.com. A complete list of conditions and exclusions available by visiting www.exmark.com/partners.

willie’s t’s embroidery TWA’s new official merchandise supplier, Willie’s T’s is the place for all things TWA logo apparel and gift related. An annual contribution is made by Willie’s T’s on each item sold. For more information visit www.texaswildlife.gostorego.com.

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Texas Wildlife Association texas-wildlife.org

NATIVE HABITAT RESTORATION

For information on how to become a TWA Corporate Partner, contact David Brimager at (800) 839-9453 or dbrimager@texas-wildlife.org. ** Some conditions and exclusions may apply to these partnerships. ** offers valid through 12/31/14

www.texas-wildlife.org

27


all the water that will be, is

Jessica Vandivier (r) and Ann Vandivier Brodnax on South Llano River, Llano Springs Ranch. TWA Director Tom Vandivier was the 2008 Lone Star Land Steward Winner, Leopold recipient, Hill Country.

A Water Primer ARticle by henry chappell

editor’s note: This is the first installment of a quarterly column

on water in Texas.

I

n Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Freshwaters, author Robert Glennon attributes this elegant, but not-quite-obvious truth to an anonymous observer. From a general perspective, one could also assert that “All the water that is, will be.” Or, more precisely, “All the water molecules that are, will be.” We can think of earth’s water cycle, or “hydrological cycle,” as a closed system. Per the Law of Conservation of Matter, natural forces and human activity can’t create or destroy water. Rather, they move it around or contaminate it, often making it unavailable or unfit for immediate use. Plants and animals do not consume water; they use it, then return it. We must take in water to live, but we also sweat, produce waste, and, as anyone who has ever exhaled onto a cold window pane knows, we release water vapor into the atmosphere every time we exhale. When we die, our remains desiccate. The water molecules leave the dead tissue but remain in the hydrological cycle. While water cannot be fully consumed or destroyed, it can be rendered inaccessible or unusable. For example, some percentage of groundwater pumped from a desert aquifer and used for irrigation will be returned to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration and evaporation. Much of that moisture may then be carried eastward by winds to fall as rain over the Gulf of Mexico. So, while water drawn from the aquifer is still in the hydrological cycle, it’s no longer immediately available to desert growers. If that aquifer’s recharge rate is slow or nil, as it’s likely to be in an arid region, the growers are depleting their water source every time they turn on their pumps.

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Oceans cover about 70 percent of earth’s surface and, thus, absorb most of the sun’s energy. Solar heating of the oceans causes evaporation. Water vapor rises into the atmosphere, leaving behind the salt. Wind currents carry this moisture landward, where it increases relative humidity, causing precipitation in the form of rain, snow, or hail. As precipitation reaches the land, evaporation begins anew. Although evaporation rates vary drastically with location, about 50 percent of all precipitation returns directly to the atmosphere. Of the remaining 50 percent, a substantial amount returns to the atmosphere indirectly through transpiration by trees and other rooted vegetation. Some of the precipitation flows over the land as runoff. Under force of gravity, which draws water toward the lowest elevation, some runoff makes its way into rivers, creeks and other drainages, and eventually back to the ocean. Finally, a significant portion of precipitation percolates into the ground to recharge groundwater supplies. If left unused, this water may remain in underground reservoirs – aquifers – for years, or even millennia. Less than 1 percent of earth’s water is drinkable or “potable.” Oceans account for 96.5 percent of our planet’s water. Of the remaining 3.5 percent, about 1 percent is brackish – less saline than seawater but still too salty to drink. Currently, about 1.7 percent takes the form of polar ice. That leaves only 0.8 percent in the form of rivers, streams, lakes, marshes and groundwater – fresh water available for use by humans and wildlife. Worldwide, there is 30 times more potable water underground than in all of the earth’s rivers, lakes, and other sources of potable surface water. Texas is remarkably diverse, covering 10 distinct ecological regions. These vary in character, from the cypress bayous of deep East Texas to the Chihuahuan Desert in far West Texas; from the Gulf

© 2013 Chase Fountain, TPWD

Texas Waters


Coastal Marshes, beaches, and barrier islands, to the High Plains shortgrass prairie in the Panhandle. This variation reflects vast differences in average rainfall, from more than 55 inches per year at Port Arthur near the Texas-Louisiana border, to less than 10 inches per year at El Paso. Precipitation increases west-toeast approximately 1 inch per 15 miles. Precipitation, along with geological history, account for the quantity and forms of surface water and groundwater in each region. Temperature influences both rate of evaporation and transpiration by plants. Usable water – water available for use by humans and wildlife – is precipitation leftover after evaporation and transpiration. “Evapotranspiration,” is the sum of evaporation and transpiration. All other things equal, the higher the temperature, the higher the rate of evapotranspiration. Air temperature, surface temperature, atmospheric humidity, sunshine, and wind all significantly affect the rate of evapotranspiration. Potential evapotranspiration (PET) is the amount of water that could be evapotranspired, if it were available. Actual Evapotranspiration (AE) is the actual amount evapotranspired. Thus, annual PET in the El Paso area, with its low humidity and hot summer days and high wind speeds, averages 114 inches, even though mean annual precipitation is only 10 inches. In sweltering, humid Houston, annual PET averages less than 79 inches. We care about PET, because it is the amount of water needed for optimum plant growth. Roughly speaking, then, the amount of irrigation needed in a given area over a given period of time can be estimated by subtracting the amount of precipitation from PET, assuming a normal year in which PET exceeds precipitation. Fluctuations in temperature and precipitation make precise irrigation planning (and water planning, in general) impossible. Texas is a state of extremes. Drought and flooding are common. Precipitation fluctuation, as a percentage, tends to increase in a westward direction. Surface water takes the form of rivers and streams, as well as natural and manmade reservoirs. Fifteen major river systems flow through Texas. Eight of these – the Nueces, San Antonio, Guadalupe, Lavaca, Brazos, San Jacinto, Trinity, and Neches – run their entire course within the state. Seven rivers nourish bays and estuaries on the Texas coast:

Although the devastating drought of 2011 left this large stock tank dry, the water that had been there remains in the earth’s hydrological cycle – a fact that brings scant comfort to West Texas ranchers. Photo by Wyman Meinzer

the Sabine and Neches Rivers flow into the Sabine-Neches estuary (Sabine Lake); the Trinity and San Jacinto feed the Galveston Bay system; the Colorado and Lavaca end at Matagorda and Lavaca bays; the Guadalupe and San Antonio Rivers feed the Guadalupe Bay, San Antonio Bay, and Espiritu Santo Bay; the Nueces River flows into Nueces and Corpus Christi Bays. The Red River, which rises in Curry County, New Mexico, forms the Texas-Oklahoma border for some 200 miles. The Canadian

River rises in Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado, crosses the Panhandle, and flows into Oklahoma, where it merges with the Arkansas River. The Rio Grande flows from its headwaters in San Juan County, Colorado, through the middle of New Mexico, and, beginning at El Paso, forms a nearly 1,000-mile border with Mexico, before flowing into the Gulf of Mexico at Brownsville. The Pecos River runs from its headwaters on the western slope of the Santa Fe mountain range, in New Mexico, to its confluence with

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All other variables equal, the higher the temperature, the higher the evaporation rate. Thus, over the course of a year, the water in this stretch of river in Texas’s semi-arid Rolling Plains region will evaporate faster than water in a New England stream. Photo by Russell Graves

the Rio Grande, northwest of Del Rio. In total, counting all of the tributaries of these major drainages, Texas holds some 3,700 named rivers and creeks, totaling about 80,000 miles, and draining about 49 million acre-feet of water per year. Along these thousands of miles of flowing water, 212 major reservoirs and over 5000 smaller reservoirs cover 1.2 million acres and provide some 60 million acre-feet of water storage. Despite its droughty reputation, Texas ranks second in the nation, behind Minnesota, in total area covered by lakes and reservoirs, and it’s second to Alaska in total volume of inland water. Currently, more than half of all water consumed in Texas comes from aquifers. There are nine major aquifers and 21 minor aquifers in Texas. Except for parts of the desert mountain region, or Trans Pecos Region, in far West Texas, east of El Paso, usable groundwater underlies most of the state. These aquifers vary tremendously in capacity and rate of recharge. Some, like the Edward’s Aquifer, in Central Texas, recharge rapidly during times of adequate rainfall. Others, such as the giant Ogallala Aquifer, beneath the High Plains, have a recharge rate so slow as to be essentially negligible. Groundwater from these low-recharge aqui-

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A precious resource. Only about 0.8 percent of the water on earth is potable. The rest is saltwater, brackish or trapped in polar ice. Photo by Russell Graves


Texas boasts some 80,000 miles of rivers and streams. Only Alaska has more. Photo by Wyman Meinzer

fers is essentially a non-renewable resource; to pump is to mine. Springs occur where groundwater from saturated aquifers escapes to the surface, usually amid exposed and broken rock along fault lines, such as the 300 mile “spring line” along the Balcones Escarpment in Central Texas and the portion Caprock Escarpment that rises from the Rolling Plains in the southeastern corner of Panhandle. Texas may have as many as 3,000 springs, of which, 1,292 are currently named. Springs form the headwaters of some of Texas’s rivers and streams, and many provide crucial seasonal or year-round flow. Some form critical habitat for rare and endangered species. Because springs are dependent on aquifer levels, legal measures under the federal Endangered Species Act have restricted pumping of certain aquifers. Short of desalinization of seawater on a currently impractical scale, we will have to make do with the freshwater we have. They aren’t making any more of it. In the May 2014 column, we’ll examine the political battle fronts formed in response to Texas’s limited water supply and growing population.

Owning land provides endless planting opportunities. Whether you plant nourishing food plots, sheltering grasses, environmentally friendly trees or nutritious crops, you are also sowing the seeds of an investment that will grow over time. You are rooting the foundation where a lifetime of memories with family and friends can be harvested. From the beginning, you can count on Whitetail Properties to cultivate your land ownership goals. At Whitetail Properties, we know land, we understand our customers and most of all, we grow dreams.

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Urban Coyote Population Rising; Research Dispels Some Beliefs This photo of Chicago Park is reprinted from Marinalife Magazine. The photo of the coyote is reprinted from Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune.

Article by COLLEEN SCHREIBER, Reprinted with permission from Livestock Weekly

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oyotes are often enemy number one for livestock producers, particularly sheep and goat producers, and also, in some cases, deer enthusiasts. City dwellers typically do not understand why that is. They do not understand that it’s not about the coyote per se, rather, it’s that a predating coyote is impacting their livelihood. The city dweller’s attitude, however, quickly changes when coyotes intrude on the urban world. Then city officials hear: “Can’t you get rid of these coyotes? They’re eating my precious pets, and I’m concerned for the safety of my children.” The urban coyote is considered by some to be one of the most phenomenal urban wildlife stories, and the final chapter is nowhere near complete. What’s really phenomenal about this story is that while there are more people living in cities than ever before, there are also now more carnivore species associated with cities than ever before. In reality, coyotes are a relatively new resident to most cities throughout North America. It has only been in the last 20 years that the growth has become particularly pronounced. It is because of this growth that coyotes – at least urban coyotes – are in the news now on a regular basis. Stanley Gerht is an associate professor and wildlife Extension specialist at Ohio State University. However, he is, perhaps, best

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known for his long-term research work on urban coyotes. Prior to moving to Ohio State, he served as the principle investigator at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation in Chicago. His work continues today. Gerht’s work is groundbreaking. His first published work on mating systems released in 2012 found that coyotes are truly monogamous animals. “We found no cheating, whatsoever, over 10 years, and there is plenty of opportunity for them to cheat,” Gerht says. In two featured presentations during the Texas Chapter of the 2013 Wildlife Society annual meeting, Gerht talked about what he’s learned, thus far, about the urban coyote in terms of ecology, home range, survival, diet, and disease, and he discussed coyote/human conflict, as well. Gerht’s study area is Chicago, the third largest metro area in the U.S., where a little more than nine million people and an estimated 7000 to 8000 coyotes live. “People say that we’re developing out, and we’re consuming the coyote’s habitat or pushing them into our areas, but that’s not true here. These animals moved into Chicago,” says Gerht. That’s hard to imagine, given the landscape that these animals are living in is encompassed by an intensive road system of interstate highways and tollways. One area where Gerht has long monitored


coyotes is in the northwest suburbs near O’Hare Airport. The goal of the project is to better understand how these coyotes live in this landscape and how they are relating to humans. To get to these answers, Gerht and his team live trap, mark and equip coyotes with radio collars. Pups are also taken from dens and identified with microchips. The project began in 2000, and year to date over 690 coyotes had been captured and marked. About 400 of them have been radio collared, primarily with VHF collars, though some have GPS collars. The radio collars tell each coyote’s story. For example, coyote 21 was caught as a teenage male and was hit by a car 11 years later. When Gerht first began tracking him, he was living with his parents in a large urban park. Two years later, he dispersed and became part of a pack that took over another territory within that same urban park. He went from having a fairly large natal area to a home range of about one square mile. He became an alpha male, and over the next nine years, he raised six litters within that one square mile. Amazingly, there are now five packs living within that one urban park, which encompasses just over six square miles. This particular park, Gerht says, receives about one million human users every year. Three of the alpha animals living here are offspring from coyote 11. What they’ve seen in that one park is happening all over Chicago. Coyotes are carving up the landscape into smaller and smaller pieces, and coyote densities are reaching levels that have never been recorded before. Another marked coyote, coyote number one, a female and Gerht’s favorite, because she was the first to be captured, spent her entire life in downtown Schaumburg, about five miles from O’Hare International airport. Less than 10 percent of her territory had natural habitat, and, yet, she became an alpha female and raised at least seven litters, each averaging eight pups. She died of natural causes. “She was in great health; her heart just gave out,” Gerht says. “Her mate stayed with her throughout her whole life, and he’s still out there.” Even in the urban areas, these coyotes maintain a semblance of social structure. Typically, four or five adults and their pups live together in a pack.

Their territories are usually just slightly over three square miles, a function of urbanization. The size, Gerht says, is dictated, in part, by the amount of open space. In some cases, there is no natural habitat within a territory. The only green space they have is manufactured green space, a golf course, for example, and, yet, these coyotes are able to make a living. Some animals will localize their activity down to a tiny fragment of space. For example, one of their collared females spent a year living in a cemetery. Not all coyotes live within a pack, however. Solitary animals make up from a third to almost half of the population, depending on the year. The coyote’s entire year is geared around the reproductive season, as it determines success for the year. It is also the biggest reason coyotes have the social system they do.

61 percent, compared to 13 percent in rural Illinois. Gerht says the Chicago population is not regulated at all by disease. “These animals are in extremely good health. They’re already positive for everything, so they’re immune to everything. We could make the argument that we’re creating super coyotes in the cities.” Vehicles are the primary cause of death, whereas, in rural areas, it’s hunting. Urban coyotes learn how to survive in this complicated, massive road system. He showed a video of one adult collared female crossing Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago at night and another of her crossing Lake Shore Drive. As she came up to these busy intersections, she knew which way to turn to look for traffic, Gerht says. The coyotes that live in the urban center, in the city, itself, where there is no natural habitat, become very nocturnal.

This photo of a Chicago coyote is reprinted from Chicago Magazine.

“They don’t need to live in packs for hunting or food gathering; they need to do so to raise their young,” says Gerht. Their reproduction system is very flexible. Even though they only produce one litter a year, they can change litter size dramatically, depending on food supply or depending on their own population density. Gerht’s team has learned that the litter size of these urban coyotes is about twice the size of litters in the rural Midwest. “We’re averaging between eight and nine pups per female. Because they are all genetically tested, we know they’re all coming from a single female and a single male.” Survival rates are high and fairly constant. In fact, in all age classes, but, especially, the pups, urban survival is significantly higher than survival of pups in rural areas. Average survival of pups in the Chicago study area is

“There is no cover for them, and they use the sidewalks and the roads, just like we do. Many of them cross dozens, if not hundreds of roads, every single night of their life.” The fact that the home range is relatively small for most of these coyotes is a good indication of how abundant their food supply is. Rodents, Gerht says, make up as much as 90 percent of their diet. For those coyotes living in the more suburban areas, rabbits, depending on the year, make up a significant portion of their diet. Deer consistently make up about a quarter of their diet, he says, though it’s usually from scavenging. Fruits are also relatively high on their preferred list. Contrary to popular belief, domestic housecats and human garbage account for only one and two percent, respectively, of their diet. “That does not mean they are not killing house cats,” Gerht says. “It simply means

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they are not relying on them for food.” Gerht and his team reported some coyote attacks on dogs, usually the small, yappy kind. Medium to large dogs, he says, are rarely attacked, but when it happens, it’s typically done by a pair of alpha animals. Rarely is the dog killed. The reason a coyote might attack a dog is because the dog is seen as a competitor. “There’s a strong instinct in canines to get rid of the smaller canine.” And, while the coyote has a strong instinct to remove its competitors, they found only 17 cases of dog attacks in the Chicago area over a 16-year period. The largest number of attacks occurred in February, which corresponds to the mating season, and then, again, in April, which corresponds to the litter-rearing season. Moving into the topic of human conflicts, Gerht says that although these animals constantly live with humans, their very tendencies make them avoid humans. For example, they’re largely nocturnal, and they don’t depend on humans for food. Thus, the majority of these urban/suburban coyotes never have conflict with humans. From 2000 to 2010, only five percent of their marked coyotes were labeled as nuisance animals. Gerht defines a “nuisance” coyote as any

one that gets complaints. If it’s removed as part of a control operation, that animal is also checked off as a nuisance animal. Thus far, there have not been any reported coyote attacks on people in the Chicago metropolitan area. In fact, he Gerht blames most of the conflict problems on humans. “In each of the cases where we did have true conflict, where the animal was changing its behavior, it was either due to disease or it was due to feeding. We documented that every single time.” He showed video of one of their nuisance coyotes that was attracted to a particular yard during the day. This particular homeowner had large platform bird feeders, and the feed was not only attracting the birds, but squirrels, which, in turn, attracted the coyote. The coyote was removed. While Gerht’s research largely indicates that these urban coyotes are not changing their behaviors, he documented some cases where human intervention has indeed changed a particular animal’s behavior. For

Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist at Ohio State University, inspects a coyote captured in the greater Chicago area as part of a long-running study on this increasingly common urban resident. Photo courtesy of Stan Gehrt/Ohio State University

example, one homeowner was purposely feeding coyotes. As a result, one alpha male became a nuisance animal. The animal was removed, but the feeding continued, despite an ordinance against it. The problem continued. Only when enforcement against the homeowner was implemented, and the feeding was finally discontinued, did the problem stop. Lethal removal, Gerht says, is an option that needs to be on the table in cases where an animal or animals have become habituated to the point where hazing and other proven methods won’t change their behavior. “It’s unfortunate, and legally it can be a challenge, so it’s best in these urban areas not to get to that point.” When lethal measures are necessary, he recommends specific removal, as opposed to general removal.

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TEXAS WILDLIFE

C aesar K leberg W ildlife R esearch institute Texas A&M University-Kingsville

MANAGING THE PROBLEM OF INVASIVE GRASSES Article by Scott L. Mitchell Photos by Eric Grahmann

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f you are a seasoned landowner, you have seen the evolution in approaches to address brush invasion over the years. Starting in the 1930s, landowners engaged in “brush eradication” or “brush control.” In the mid-1970s, it became “brush management.” The latest iteration is “brush sculpting.” The tools and methods have not changed that much, but the perception and knowledge about brush have changed. We came to realize that it is impossible to eradicate brush, and we began “managing” brush to improve wildlife habitat. This is not an endorsement that the same philosophy can or should be applied to invasive grasses, nor does this mean that we will come to view their aggressive presence as a valuable part of the ecological landscape in South Texas. However,

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invasive grasses aren’t going away anytime soon, and, in fact, the problem seems to be growing exponentially. While there is no “one size fits all” approach to invasive grasses, landowners who manage for wildlife should be proactive. As with any land management decision, the answers will be different, depending on the goals for land use (i.e., grazing livestock, wildlife habitat, energy production, or combinations of these). Below are some basic approaches that seem to be universal for any land use. 1. Identify and Monitor – The presence of one or more species of invasive grass on your property is a high probability. It is important to be able to identify these species and to know how they become established and spread. Once you have identified the culprit, keep an eye on it to see whether it is spreading.

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Tanglehead makes a good case study. In sandy and sandy loam soils, tanglehead is extremely aggressive, while its presence in tight or shallow soils generally tends to remain static. On the other hand,Old World bluestems are much less selective, and they tend to be an aggressive invader almost everywhere. 2. Protect and Preserve – Native rangeland is a precious and increasingly scarce commodity that should be protected and preserved. Native rangelands will always be susceptible to invasive grasses. Early detection of invasive grass within native areas provides the landowner the best chance for control. Remember the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If detected early on, invasion by these grasses can often be controlled with


C aesar kleberg wildlife research institute

individual plant treatments (IPT), which require minimal time and financial commitments. If left untreated, these native areas are at high risk of becoming unwanted invasive grass monocultures. Control, then, becomes a long-term and costly venture. 3. Avoid Disturbance – Soil disturbance tends to encourage invasive grass establishment in South Texas. While disturbance of the soil is not completely avoidable incertain situations, measures to restore native vegetation immediately after disturbance offers the best chance of limiting the establishment of unwanted species. Areas that are heavily infested with invasive grasses pose a completely different approach. Control of large areas that have been dominated by invasive grasses for extended

periods of time will require significant inputs to restore a diverse native community. The landowner will have to develop a strategy for control of the affected area, as well as the buildup of seed in the soil. This requires a multi-year commitment. If

control and restoration are not an option, the approach is to limit their impact. One of the most effective and economical management tools is the use of cattle. Cattle grazing offers the best option to break up dense invasive grass monocultures, limit seed production, and the hoof trampling action by the livestock will actually promote forb growth, which is beneficial to both livestock and wildlife. Although not as certain as death and taxes, the impact of invasive grasses on South Texas rangelands – like the impact of woody plant encroachment – has potential long-term consequences. Today’s proactive management approach to the problem, guided by sound science and focused on practical goals, is the best strategy to ensure that the “Last Great Habitat” can be enjoyed by the next generation.

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P lant P r o file

Mistletoe – It’s Not Just for Christmas Article and Photos by Steve Nelle

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istletoe is one of the most well-known plants in Texas. What is not so well known is that mistletoe is also an excellent plant for wildlife. Although the leaves and berries are poisonous to humans, many species of wildlife use mistletoe as an important source of food. There are 10 species of mistletoe in Texas, but only one species is widespread. Christmas mistletoe, Phoradendron tomentosum, is the species that is so common and familiar. Mistletoe is often referred to as a parasite, but this is only partially correct. Mistletoe does graft itself into the vascular system of

the host tree, and it does extract water and minerals from the tree. However, it also carries out photosynthesis on its own, making it a hemi-parasite. The most common trees that become home to mistletoe are mesquite and hackberry. Other trees that serve as host include cedar elm, ash, cottonwood, and chittam. As a cluster of mistletoe begins to grow, the branch of the tree where the cluster is attached starts to form a tumor-like enlargement. Eventually, after many years, the mistletoe will often kill the branch, and the cluster of mistletoe will then die. In extreme cases, mistletoe can become abundant enough to

kill an entire tree, but this is not common. Despite its reputation for harming trees, mistletoe is one of the best deer food plants in Texas. Deer relish the nutritious evergreen leaves and small stems of mistletoe. Deer will even stand on their hind feet to knock mistletoe out of the tree. The leaves are high in protein (19 percent), high in energy, and are green yearlong, making it more valuable than most browse and forbs. Mistletoe made up 38 percent of the winter deer diet in a study done by Texas Tech University in the Rolling Plains. Another study conducted by the NRCS in Llano and Mason counties indicate that mistletoe was the number two

The berries of mistletoe are an important source of winter food for many species of birds.

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plant in their diet, making up 24 percent of the annual diet, and as high as 50 percent to 60 percent of the diet during some periods in fall and winter. If you look closely at the lower branches and even the trunk of mesquite, you will usually find mistletoe plants that have been grazed down to the bark. Some astute deer hunters use mistletoe as bait. Using a long pole with a hook, they pull down the clusters; deer usually cannot resist such an easy meal. Some old-time ranchers also used this same technique to feed livestock, when grass was scarce. Female mistletoe plants produce the characteristic translucent berries in fall and winter. These berries are consumed by a variety of songbirds, including cedar waxwing, robin, bluebird, chickadee, grosbeak, thrasher and thrush. In desert regions, the phainopepla is known to defend a tree full of mistletoe as a primary winter food source. The birds then spread the seed from tree to tree, as they defecate or wipe the sticky berries off their beaks. Mistletoe is a paradox – a plant that is semi-parasitic and toxic to humans is used for romantic purposes at Christmas, and it provides an abundance of food for wildlife.

P lant P r o file

Mistletoe is an evergreen hemi-parasitic shrub that commonly grows on mesquite and hackberry. It is an excellent plant for wildlife.

A mesquite heavily infested with mistletoe is a common sight across much of Texas.

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Land managed with good stewardship principles is more resilient and not affected as severely by drought. The best insurance to cope with dry periods is to keep a good cover of vegetation.

Are We Facing a New Normal for

Wildlife Management in Texas? Article and Photos by steve nelle

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t does not take a genius to figure out that something strange seems to be going on with Texas weather. How many times have you heard the phrase: “It just doesn’t rain like it used to.” That phrase is an accurate statement of changing rainfall patterns over the past 40-plus years. Nothing affects Texas landowners and Texas wildlife more than the weather, especially rainfall; and, in recent years, rainfall has not been generous. The Glory Years TWA member and longtime outfitter Skipper Duncan refers to the 1970s and 1980s as the glory years. Many of today’s landowners got their start in ranching and wildlife management during the glory years. These were decades of milk and honey. During these years, across most of the state, rainfall was good, and there were no significant

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or prolonged periods of drought. With a few exceptions, it was an unprecedented time of hydrologic prosperity. Imagine a long string of 20 to 30 years without a serious drought. Imagine stock ponds and reservoirs nearly full of water, with creeks and rivers flowing strong. Imagine seeps coming out of hillsides and strong flowing springs. That was reality across much of Texas during the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s. It was a time of uncharacteristic abundance. When good times continue year after year, we get accustomed to it. We begin to think it is the norm. Many people became acclimated to season after season of favorable rains. Dry periods were relatively mild and short-lived. Life was good. Grass and water were plentiful. Wildlife was abundant. We got used to it. These abnormally good years became, for many

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people, the benchmark of normal; but, it was a false benchmark. Figure 1 shows the Statewide Palmer Modified Drought Index for 1895 – 2012. The widely-used index takes into consideration rainfall, temperature, evaporation, and infiltration to get a true picture of wet or dry conditions. The graph clearly shows the severe droughts, as well as the periods of favorable rainfall. The period of 1968 – 1997 were mostly good rainfall years, with only a few minor short-lived dry spells. These were the glory years for Texas, although the actual period of favorable rainfall varied from region to region. Reality Hits Hard Beginning in the mid 1990s, the abundance of rainfall and water to which we had become accustomed started to wane across much of the state. By the end of the 1990s,


it came to a screeching halt. For the 15 or so years since then, there seems to be an undeniable change occurring in the bounty of nature. While scientists and politicians talk about climate change and global warming, many perceptive landowners understand that these changes are, to a large extent, simply a return to the more typical pattern of Texas weather. Duncan says, “History tells us of huge climate changes in our area, before the notion of ‘man-made-change.’ Yes, the climate has surely changed in the past few decades, but that seems to be Mother Nature’s way.” The long string of good years was nothing but an aberration. State Climatologist John Neilsen-Gammon said that “the wet period in the 1980s and early 1990s was arguably more unusual than the dry period in the 1950s, based in tree ring records.” Regarding future rainfall predictions, Neilsen-Gammon said that “ocean temperature patterns still favor drought in Texas, and probably will continue to do so for another five to 15 years.” TWA Life Member Bill Eikenhorst says that “the great expectations that may have been culturally woven into land management decisions over multiple generations need to be replaced with more realistic expectations.” Those realistic expectations must include the high probability of drought and multi-year recurring drought. The new normal for wildlife management, as well as for ranching and farming, is the realization that drought periods are a common normal occurrence. Drought is the rule, not the exception. Frequent drought years and multi-year drought is part of the normal and natural fluctuations of nature. Since drought is inevitable and unavoidable, the prudent land manager will always be mentally preparing and anticipating their moves to deal with the next drought. This new normal affects all Texans, not just landowners. No one has to be reminded that lake levels are critically low across much of Texas, despite some recent good rains. The story is much the same, if not worse, for streamflow in most areas, except East Texas. November 2013 streamflow for the middle Brazos, Paluxy, Bosque, Leon, middle Colorado, San Saba, Pedernales, Sandy Creek, Llano, Concho, middle Guadalupe, Nueces, Hondo Creek, Seco Creek, Medina, San Antonio, Frio, Atascosa, Canadian, Pease, North Sulphur, Wichita, and Red are a combined 23 percent of the long-term me-

The Palmer Modified Drought Index for 1895-2012 shows the normal fluctuations for Texas rainfall. Note the long period of favorable moisture from about 1968-1997, with only a few minor dry periods. Many of today’s landowners got their start in land management during these unusually favorable years, providing a false benchmark of normal. The red line represents a smoothing of the data. Graph courtesy of NOAA

dian streamflow. Low lake and pond levels, poor streamflow, and reduced aquifer levels across much of the state seem to all be tied, in large part, to the return to the normal drought prone weather patterns. The same dismal trends for streamflow can be seen in statewide quail populations, some songbirds species, Trans-Pecos pronghorns, as well as in other wildlife species. The great quail years of the 1970s and 1980s may have been just as much of an anomaly as was rainfall during the glory years. We may never see such a great period of quail abundance again in our lifetime. What is Normal? Some will argue that there is no such thing as normal, when it comes to rainfall, ranching or wildlife management. Calculating an average rainfall for a given region has almost no value, when it comes to practical management. Managing according to an average will mean that you will be wrong most of the time. Normal can only be described as a wide range of variation. Rainfall in San Angelo, for example, ranges from 8 inches to 40 inches in any given year. Normal means both drought and floods, and everything in between. The only management strategy that can accommodate the sizeable and erratic variation is one of planned flexibility and constant

adjustment. TWA member John “Chip” Merrill expressed this need for constant flexibility during his active ranching years. He said, “What I am doing now, I wasn’t doing last year, nor do I expect to be doing it this same way next year.” Normal is a range, not an average. The successful manager must be flexible enough to take proper advantage of the good times and be always ready to adjust, as unfavorable conditions develop. Advice from the Experts What can landowners do at a practical and economical level to accommodate the new normal? Texas landowners are not prone to wring their hands and give up. They want feasible and realistic ideas that can help them deal with prevailing conditions. Landowners who are primarily interested in wildlife can learn a lot from some successful Texas livestock producers. Charley Christensen, General Manager for Cargile Ranches. says that “those who really care about what they are doing continually adapt to what we have available to us and not necessarily what we remember from yesteryear.” According to Christensen, “The best message is ‘Forget normal!’ There is no such thing! Work hard to make a living with the resources you have been given stewardship of, and leave it better than you found it.”

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The wildlife resources on the Cargile Ranches are a testament that this philosophy works equally well for livestock and wildlife. Frank Price, in partnership with his son TWA Director Sims Price, has the well-deserved reputation for being one of the most successful ranchers and land managers in West Texas. Frank has seen his share of dry times, as well as some good times, during his tenure on Price Ranches. He has met the current dry spell by reducing livestock numbers, while, at the same time, continuing a very structured grazing management program. On Price Ranches, mature cattle are not given supplemental feed, even during drought or even during winter. Frank’s philosophy is “drought is normal, and the best we can do as range managers is manage our lands as effectively, as possible, so we will be ready for the next 'soon to come' dry spell.”

Jon Taggart, owner of Burgundy Beef, based in the Blackland Prairie, was recently asked how he kept his native rangeland in such remarkable condition during the recent terrible drought. His answer was profound: “We spent the last 25 years preparing for the drought of 2011.” Taggart went on to explain that by always keeping a good dense cover of native vegetation, the soil was kept in excellent condition, with a good protective mulch of litter, high organic matter and good water holding capacity. When the terrible drought of 2011 hit, the ranch was able to weather the storm, maintain livestock production, and maintain range condition. The decades of diligent stewardship and conservation paid off. This is the kind of long-term thinking that must be adopted to successfully cope with a new normal that includes frequent and/or severe dry periods. TWA Director Dr. Dale Rollins offers some common-sense perspective regarding grazing management, pricklypear and the use of fire, in light of the new normal. Dr. Rollins says that the fixed (and, often, too heavy) stocking rates that were the norm in previous wet decades will not work in today’s climate. He says that the competition for grass between cattle and quail demands a different, more conservative and more flexible manner of grazing. However, Dr. Rollins has found that pricklypear serves admirably as a substitute for quail

Quail thrived across much of Texas during the glory years. However, as normal drought patterns have returned, quail numbers have declined to precarious levels.

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Land that formerly produced plentiful grass shows the effect of recent dry years. Learning to live with and manage wide fluctuations in rainfall and production is one of challenges of agriculture and wildlife management.

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nest cover when grass is in short supply. This casts a new and different light on the role of the much-maligned pricklypear cactus. Dr. Rollins also advises that the use of prescribed fire as a range and habitat tool may not be as practical as it was during the years of abundant grass. New Challenges TWA member and former NRCS State Biologist Gary Valentine suggests that the new normal for Texas landowners includes a

lot more than the anticipation of low rainfall years. In a broader dimension, the new normal includes other trends that will forever affect land management. Texas landowners will continue to deal with the effects of land fragmentation, more people, more subdivisions, more roads, more power lines, more pipelines, more water wells drawing more water, more regulation, more predators, and more problems with troublesome exotic species of plants

Across much of Texas, normally perennial creeks have stopped flowing or dried up completely as a result of recent rainfall patterns.

and animals. The challenges faced by Texas private land managers are formidable. Creativity, hard work, determination and deep abiding land ethics will be needed to cope with climatic conditions and a changing Texas landscape. The Texas Wildlife Association is committed to helping landowners face these challenges while continuing to be responsible caretakers of Texas lands, waters and wildlife.

The once bold Medina River near Bandera is reduced to a trickle. The river was flowing at 0.7 cfs in November of 2013, compared to the long-term median flow of 56 cfs. Many creeks and rivers in Texas are suffering from several years of unfavorable rainfall.

With careful attention to grazing management and making frequent adjustments, some landowners have been able to maintain a desirable cover of grass.

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Integrated Predation Management for Quail Managers Article and Photos by Dale Rollins, Ph.D.

Quail and deer feeders are especially good locations to remove problematic raccoons. Game cameras can be deployed to provide intelligence on when, where, and how many raccoons are visiting feeders.

"For a Central American dictator, he died a natural death – he was shot in the back." –Will Rogers

F

or a quail, a natural death is usually from fang or talon. Predation is the primary cause of death for a quail at each stage of its life, from egg to chick to adult. Various “mesocarnivores” (e.g., raccoons, skunks) rule the nesting season, while hawks rule the “quail skies” from October through April. Alas, quail managers, what can we do to mitigate the impacts of predation?

A Bird Nest on the Ground

Because of their relatively small size, and the fact that they spend their entire lives on the ground, quail are extremely vulnerable to predation. However, prevailing paradigms in quail management suggest that predators are rarely a management concern and that predation should be managed only indirectly (i.e., via habitat management). Estimates of predation rates on quail nests are typically high, and hatch success rates

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vary from 12 percent to 45 percent (mean across the range of bobwhites equals 28 percent). Hatch rates in Texas have ranged from a low of 12 percent, to a high of more than 60 percent, with higher hatch rates observed in good nesting habitat. A 50 percent hatch rate was observed in western Oklahoma, with predators accounting for 81 percent of the losses. Hatch rates from 20092012 at the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch averaged 52 percent. Mesocarnivores are the most important group of nest predators. Coyotes were the most frequently photographed nest predator in South Texas, while raccoons were the most common egg bandit (perhaps, that black mask is a tip-off) in the Edwards Plateau. The list of egg robbers is a long one, and it includes various mammals like feral hogs, coyotes and foxes, skunks, raccoons,

february 2014

badgers, opossums and armadillos. Birds such as ravens, crows, caracaras, and, perhaps, roadrunners and wild turkeys are on the list of suspects. Snakes such as rat snakes, bullsnakes, and coachwips round out the line-up. Most of the above, plus various raptors (e.g., Cooper’s hawk, northern harriers) and felines (feral cats and bobcats) also prey on adult quail. It’s a rough neighborhood out there. Chick survival is the least understood aspect of quail mortality. Researchers have attempted to assess mortality of chicks after hatching, but it’s a difficult metric to grasp. A survival rate of 36 percent, from hatching to 39 days post-hatch, was reported in western Oklahoma. Survival of adults and juveniles (older than six weeks) typically ranges from 30 percent to 50 percent from May through


August and about 35 percent during the winter months.

The Times They are a Changing

There is general consensus that mesocarnivore populations (e.g. raccoons) have increased over the last 30 years. Hypotheses to explain this increase include 1) demise of the fur market in the mid1980s, 2) increased supplemental feeding of deer, 3) increasingly fragmented habitats, and 4) a proliferation of farm ponds on the landscape. An example of temporal changes in a predator community is suggested by comparing two studies conducted in northcentral Texas (Wise and Parker counties). A. S. Jackson removed potential quail predators (n = 574) from a 3,000-acre study site in Wise County over a 13-month period (19481949), but he dismissed the predator removal as having no impact on quail abundance. Of particular note, only 11 raccoons (two percent of the predators removed) were trapped during his study. Fifty years later, E. Lyons (Angelo State University) removed 21-40 raccoons from two study sites (640 acres) during only 30-day trapping efforts in an adjacent county (Parker County) during 1999 and 2000, respectively. In other words, Lyons removed about three times more raccoons than Jackson did on study sites only 20 percent the size of Jackson’s sites and with only 10 percent of the trapping effort. Such temporal changes in predator populations may be important, especially in light of landscape changes that may make quail more vulnerable to predation.

Guthery and Beasom (1977) conducted a follow-up study of intensive removal of mammalian predators (e.g., coyotes, striped skunks) from a six-square-mile study area in the western Rio Grande Plains of Texas, but they could not demonstrate a treatment effect on either bobwhite or scaled quail populations. Their conclusion was that, if predator removal was effective at all, the effect would be demonstrated by allowing quail populations on “poorer” areas to be similar to better habitats. If an effect is to be realized from reducing predators, it will most likely be by reducing potential mesocarnivores involved in nest predation. However, reducing the populations of nest predators is labor intensive, costly, and will not necessarily result in an increase in quail abundance. Removal of various mesocarnivores has been shown to be effective for quail in Georgia and for waterfowl in the “Prairie Pothole” region of North America.

Frost (1999) removed approximately one mesocarnivore per 12 acres (mostly raccoons) from 600-acre study areas over a 30-day period, just prior to the 1998 and 1999 nesting seasons in Tom Green County. Survival of radio-marked bobwhites and fate of simulated quail nests were similar on trapped and non-trapped sites. Scent stations indicated that, at this scale and level of trapping (180 trap nights per acre), mesocarnivore abundance (primarily raccoons) was not reduced, even in the short-term.

Predator Paradigms

Although predation is usually the primary source of mortality for quail at all stages of their life cycle, predator control has historically been dismissed as a management recommendation for quail. Long-term studies of bobwhites and predators in the Upper Midwest suggested that habitat, not predators, limited bobwhites. This concept (i.e., manage habitat not predators), has

Cage traps are effective for removing predators like raccoons, skunks, opossums, and bobcats. “Rooster traps” like this one are especially effective for trapping bobcats.

Is Predator Control an Option?

Given these “vital statistics,” should predator control be included in the quail manager’s toolbox? I believe so. But, that doesn’t always mean “nuking the varmints.” Appreciating which species of predators are the most problematic, and what one’s options are for minimizing predation, are important prerequisites as we muse this decision. Empirical evidence of the impact (or lack thereof) of predator removal on quail abundance is limited. Beasom (1974) studied the effects of intensive predator control on bobwhites and wild turkeys in the eastern Rio Grande Plains of Texas. He removed 188 coyotes, 120 bobcats, 65 raccoons, 46 striped skunks, and 38 other mammalian predators from a nine-square-mile study area over a two-year period. He observed moderate gains in bobwhite abundance and strong increases in turkey production.

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Some prefer a 4-foot long cage trap (l) for trapping raccoons over the shorter variety. Longer traps are especially important when trapping gray foxes; they will tend to back out of 3-foot traps.

been pervasive in the quail management since that time. Now, I do not discount the current management paradigm of indirect predator control (i.e., habitat management), and especially, as the “first line of defense.” However, the issue of predation as it relates to quail must be evaluated in a more contemporary context of an increasingly fragmented landscape and temporal changes in predator populations. Our challenge as quail managers is apparent: how to maintain (or restore) quail populations in an increasingly fragmented habitat amidst a rich, diverse community of predators. Perhaps, appropriate predation management techniques should be one of the tools considered in such restoration efforts.

An Integrated Pest Management Approach

Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which has been standard operating procedure in crop production since the 1980s, can be applied nicely to predator management, as well. An IPM strategy recognizes that: 1. Predators can be "beneficials" or "pests" or both, depending on the specific situation. 2. Scouting is necessary to determine the population levels of predators and prey and the amount of damage predators are causing. 3. There are economic thresholds or "action levels" to help determine when the level of

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pest damage justifies control measures. 4. A combination of lethal and nonlethal control practices is usually necessary (and best) in any situation Perhaps the best example of a predator species being “friend or foe” is the coyote. Coyotes are opportunistic – they will catch every quail they can, but they also eat other various predators of quail. A recent threeyear study at RPQRR showed that coyotes consumed more “enemies of quail” (skunks, raccoons, feral hogs, badgers, and snakes) than they did quail (only one of 1,028 scats contained quail feathers). Scouting can be useful in studying game and predator species. Managers can employ game cameras at strategic locations such as wildlife feeders, water sources, fence crossings and game trails to assess the relative abundance of various species of predators. Scent stations are another method for monitoring predator abundance.

Control Options

There are both lethal and nonlethal methods of controlling predators. Lethal methods kill the predator, while nonlethal control options reduce the predator’s efficiency at locating nests or killing birds. In Texas, you must have a trapper's license to trap any animal and retain its pelt for sale. Fur-bearing predators can be trapped without

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a license, but their pelts cannot be traded or sold. Bobcats are not considered furbearers, but you must have a tag from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to sell the pelt. A hunting license is required to shoot the predators mentioned, except for feral hogs. Nonlethal methods (i.e. indirectly via habitat management) are the most natural way to minimize predation. This involves manipulating the habitat to favor the prey species. Generally, the more cover available to a prey species, the better its odds of survival. Habitat enhancement ranges from strategic brush removal to changes in grazing management. The goal should not be to improve only isolated patches of the landscape but, rather, to make the landscape uniformly habitable. This allows the prey species to use the entire site to escape from predators. Lighter stocking rates or rotational grazing systems can improve nesting areas. Bunchgrass (e.g., little bluestem) densities of at least 250 plants per acre are recommended for quail. Brush management (or brush sculpting) should be approached with predation in mind. For quail, suitable brush coverts (or "quail houses") should be spaced about a softball throw apart, and larger brush coverts (e.g., catclaw acacia) and mottes of prickly pear serve as storm


shelters to protect quail from raptors.

Useful References Predator control as a tool in wildlife management. B-6146. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service. http://agrilifecdn.tamu.edu/ txwildlifeservices/files/2011/07/ PredatorControlforWildlifeMgt.pdf

Trapping Tips

Understanding predation and being able to do anything about it are not synonymous. Hawks and roadrunners enjoy “political immunity” (via state or federal laws) and are off-limits for direct control. But common mesocarnivores and feral hogs are fair game. Focus your time, effort, and funds on raccoons, skunks, foxes, and feral hogs. Cage (box) traps are inexpensive, available in many sizes, easy to use, and can be used almost anywhere. Cage traps will catch raccoons, opossums, skunks, foxes, bobcats, feral cats and dogs, and feral hogs – they usually will not catch coyotes. The size of the trap and the bait used should correspond to the size of the target species. Baits may include corn, pet food, meat, fish and eggs. Eggs are good for trapping raccoons and skunks during warm weather, in lieu of meat (which attracts flies and fire ants). A good place to trap for raccoons and skunks is around deer and quail feeders. Large cage (or better yet “corral”) traps that can hold several animals are good for catching feral hogs. Baiting the trap with the door wired open for a while allows the hogs to become comfortable moving in and out of the trap, and it increases the chance of a multiple catch when the trap is set. Pre-baiting cannot be overemphasized. As “Barefoot Bob” Richardson of Aspermont says, “Bait a lot, and trap a little.” Another popular, but relatively new, option for raccoons are the “dog-proof ” traps (e.g., Coon Cuffs, Coon Daggers). These traps target only raccoons. We have employed both dog-proof and cage traps at the RPQRR, and we tend to catch more raccoons with the cage traps. When our game cameras suggest raccoon activity at a feeder site, we’ll set several cage traps and several Coon Daggers. Our goal is to remove several raccoons at one time and, thus, minimizing their ability to become trap-shy.

Websites: Feralhogs.tamu.edu YouTube Webisodes: Nest Predation on south Texas Quail http://www.texas-wildlife.org/ resources/webcasts/nest-predationon-south-texas-quail Hawks and Quail http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=9iPbiUjvndE&feature=c4overview&list=UUi54r2qmzM_ gqOaxiPkcuzw Raccoons are serious predators of quail nests across much of Texas. Male raccoons (as pictured here) tend to forage across the landscape, while females (and kittens) are typically constrained to riparian or more brushy habitats.

Dummy nests and Quail CSI (http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=n8MNaK5sIVw)

Summary

Predator control is similar to supplemental feeding programs for quail – popular, inefficient, and, thus, expensive. But, my stance is, if you want to trap (or feed), and can afford to do it, then do it. The net results can be (at least, nominally) effective. To increase effectiveness, trapping should be done in a continuous manner and at as a large-scale effort, as feasible. Short-term, piecemeal approaches won’t return a dividend.

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TWA Officers & Directors Officers

President – Greg Simons, San Angelo Vice President – Marcus T. Barrett IV, San Antonio Second Vice President for Programs – Dr. Louis Harveson, Alpine Treasurer – J. David Anderson, Houston

Directors Emeritus

Hefner Appling Jr., El Campo Richard Bennett, Batesville M. McLean Bowman, Carrizo Springs (Past President) Robert Bracken, Tilden Richard Butler, Karnes City (Past President) Charles M. Davidson, San Antonio (Past President) Ed Dutch, Marble Falls Derry T. Gardner, San Antonio (Past President) Luke C. Kellogg, Amarillo (Past President) Steve C. Lewis, San Antonio (Past President) Gary Machen, Pearsall (TWA Co-Founder) Paul E. McSween III, San Antonio (Past President) Murphy E. Ray Jr., Somerset (TWA Co-Founder) Wallace "Happy" Rogers III, Carrizo Springs (Past President) Charles Schreiner IV, Salado Jimmie V. Thurmond III, San Antonio (Past President) Larry L. Weishuhn, Uvalde (TWA Co-Founder)

Honorary Directors Emeritus

James L. "Jaimie" Hayne Jr., San Antonio (Past President) A.C. "Dick" Jones IV, Corpus Christi Directors (Terms Expiring 2014) Curtis Anderson, Houston J. David Anderson, Houston Thomas Arnim, San Antonio Ty Bartoskewitz, Weatherford Tom Beard, Alpine James Blackwell, Littlefield R. Warren Blesh, Goldthwaite Gary Bomar, Abilene Randy Cadwallader, San Antonio Randy Cadwallader V, San Antonio Linda Campbell, Austin Dr. Jim Cathey, College Station James Collins, McAllen Cary Dietzmann, Cat Spring Robert Dullnig, San Antonio Justin Field, St. Cloud , FL Joseph Fitzsimons, San Antonio Dan Flournoy, Houston Joel Glass, Encinal Johnnie Hudman, Albany Randall Hudson III, Ft. Worth Ronald Johnson, Missouri City Clayton Leonard, Hondo Steve Mafrige, Tilden Joey McCarty, Bulverde Dr. Michael McCulloch, Odessa Bruce McNabb, Fair Oaks Ranch John B. Miller III, Houston Jason Parrish, Austin Scott Petty, Hondo Bryan Pickens, Dallas Randy Rehmann, Austin (Past President) Mike Reynolds, Austin Homer Saye, Cypress Carroll W. Schubert, San Antonio Gary Schwarz, Harlingen Greg Simons, San Angelo Don Steinbach, Burton

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TWA Officers are (l-r) Greg Simons, President; Marcus T. Barrett IV, Vice President; Dr. Louis Harveson, Second Vice President for Programs; and J. David Anderson, Treasurer Lane Sumner, Kent David Synatzske, Sandia Sidney Terry, Houston J. Timmins, Brownwood Peggy Van Cleve, Carrizo Springs Tom Vandivier, Austin Bryan Wagner, Ft. Worth Stephen "Randy" West, San Antonio Craig Wingrove, San Antonio Clayton Wolter, Sarita Directors (Terms Expiring 2015) John Baker, Houston Connard Barker, Montgomery Marcus Barrett IV, San Antonio James Barrow, San Antonio Kenneth Bell, Spring Branch Mike Berger, Spring Albert Biedenharn, San Antonio Al Bisbey, George West Christine Buford, Harlingen (Past President) William Carrington, San Antonio Chuck Cashdollar, Spring Ken Cearley, Happy Deborah Clark, Henrietta Kevin Comiskey, Katy Keith Crawford, Austin Dr. Bob Dittmar, Kerrville Steve Dutton, San Antonio Donnie Frels, Hunt Chaz Glace, Round Rock Chuck Greco, San Antonio Jeff Hanselka, La Vernia Rebecca Heidelberg, Midland Cal Hendrick, Odessa Mark Hiler, College Station Roger Hill III, San Antonio James Hurst, Barnhart Amanda Hurst, El Campo Crystal Ivy, Brackettville Karl Kinsel, San Antonio Dan Kinsel III, Cotulla William Knolle, Austin Bart Koontz, San Antonio Ben Love, Marathon Mike Martinez, Fresno Con Mims, Uvalde Mike Murski, Dallas William Osborn III, San Antonio John Park, San Antonio Chance Parker, Alpine Jay Robertson, San Antonio A. M. "Mac" Stringfellow, San Antonio Arthur Uhl III, San Antonio Bob Warren, San Antonio Beth Watson, Fredericksburg

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David Watts, Houston Rex Webb, Austin William Wilson, Houston Brad Wolfe, Brownsville Directors (Terms Expiring 2016) Andy Allen, Boerne Ernest Angelo, Midland Terry Anderson, Martinsville Katharine Armstrong Love, Austin Bradford Barnes, Fort Worth Rene Barrientos, San Antonio Susi Bell, Ingram Andrew Biar, Houston Mark E. Bivins, Amarillo Warren Bluntzer, Lometa Lamar Brown, Austin Dr. Larry Butler, Weatherford E.A. "Bud" Christy, San Antonio Hon. Susan Combs, Austin Alan Curry, San Angelo Ernie Davis, Cotulla Doug DuBois Jr., Austin Edward Farmer, Austin Milton S. Greeson Jr., Victoria Cecario "CG" Guererro, Houston Jeffrey Gunnels, Montalba Jay Harpole, Boerne Dr. Louis Harveson, Alpine Elliot G. Hayne, San Antonio Brian Hays, Gatesville Dr. Dave Hewitt, Kingsville Dr. Billy Higginbotham, Overton Richard S. Hill, Austin Timo Hixon, San Antonio W.H. Hoffmann Jr., Eastland Lee Hoffpauir, Lampasas Debbe Hudman, Albany Parker Johnson, Houston W.W. “Whit” Jones III, Hebbronville Buddy Jordan, Bulverde Hon. Kyle Kacal, College Station Wallace Klussmann, Fredericksburg Tucker Knight, Houston Jonathan Letz, Comfort Rob Lindsey, Goldthwaite Keith Martin, San Antonio Walter "Monty" Martin, Flower Mound Mark Matthews, Hondo Kent Mills, Hermleigh Dr. Dan McBride, Burnet Heath McBride, Brady Dr. Robert McFarlane, Tennessee Colony Daniel A. Pedrotti, Corpus Christi Larry Pierce, Brenham Foster “Sims” Price, Sterling City Sue Price, Blooming Grove Nelson Harwood Puett, Austin Russell Rehmann, Austin Dr. Dale Rollins, San Angelo Joe Ruple, Charlotte Jenny Sanders, Freer Jackie Serbus, Bedford Kevin Smithhart, Lufkin Misty L. Sumner, Kent R.H. "Butch" Thompson, Kingsville Tamara Trail, Albany Karla Welch, Hebbronville Dr. Neal Wilkins, San Antonio William B. Wright Jr., Cisco Randy Wyatt, San Antonio William "Carl" Young, Georgetown Max Yzaguirre, Austin


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by Carol Grenier This photo of a Texas Indigo was taken by Carol Grenier on the Santa Clara Ranch owned by Dr. Beto Gutierrez. Grenier was coached by professional photographer Michael Francis. Texas Indigo snakes are predominantly black in color, with a high sheen which gives their smooth scales an amazing iridescence. They are also known as Blue Indigos. The Indigo is the longest snake in Texas growing to more than 8 feet 6 inches. Their prey includes any vertebrate available, including large pit vipers. Texas Indigos are considered rare and are protected in Texas. TWA and Vantage Bank are proud to partner with the Images for Conservation Fund in an effort to present some of the outstanding images captured during its nature photography competitions held on private lands in Texas. ICF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created for the purpose of conserving wildlife habitat and generating a sustainable income stream through the establishment and prosperity of the Private Lands' NaturePhotography Industry. Images for Conservation encourages private landowners to restore, preserve, conserve, and enhance wildlife habitat through the business of nature photography. For more information on ICF, visit www.imagesforconservation.org.

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"Texas Wildlife" - February 2014