"Texas Wildlife" - May 2013

Page 1


The Mountain Lion Texas’ Largest Cat

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president’s remarks


All-Time High: Membership Membership is the lifeblood of any organization. If you lose your membership, you lose everything. As we survey the situation today, it is a fact that the Texas Wildlife Association has reached an all-time high in Membership. Congratulations, TWA, the road goes on. For the last two years, Membership has increased month after month, every month. The list of Members, Professional Staff, Officers, and Directors responsible for this accomplishment remains too numerous to enumerate. However, I would be remiss without providing an honorable mention to Kendra Roller, TWA Director of Member Relations. I often tell Kendra she is my hero, and I mean it. TWA snagged this Aggie with a Master’s degree from Purdue University over three years ago. Kendra immediately formed a partnership with Deborah Clark, then TWA Membership Chair. Together, they did a fabulous job. Kendra and Deborah developed a strategy to hold Membership events across Texas in conjunction with other TWA events and/or TWA leaders. The strategy worked. We went to old places with old friends and to new places to gain new Members. Their efforts spanned the state and brought brighter lights to the TWA brand name. We held events in Houston (twice), Victoria, Abilene (twice), Midland/Odessa, San Angelo, McAllen, Beaumont, Boerne, Alpine, Austin, San Antonio, Georgetown, Fort Worth and Dallas. Poor Kendra even had to endure the Red Raiders on a beautiful fall day in Lubbock. These two went everywhere and did everything for you: the Members of the Texas Wildlife Association. For the first time in a long time, we said thank you to our partners, such as Capital Farm Credit: Texas largest rural lender. We met with them and listened to their concerns. We asked for more, and they said, “You bet, we believe in TWA.” Capital Farm Credit has provided a TWA membership for 129 of their customers in 2013 alone. Moreover, the renewal rate of members from Capital Farm Credit has increased impressively to 50 percent, and in 2012 Capital Farm Credit became the exclusive sponsor of the Texas Big Game Awards Landowner of the Year Award. The Hoffpauir Outdoor Superstore continues to provide a TWA membership to customers who purchase a unit or a certain amount of parts from its store in Goldthwaite. Thank you for TWA Life Member Lee Hoffpauir for promoting the TWA mission and message in this special partnership arrangement. In addition to the Membership events, Kendra supervised an overhaul of the TWA Membership database. We deleted mistakes and duplicate members in the database. We increased the efficiency of the Texas Wildlife magazine, while decreasing shipping costs. We streamlined our electronic outreach to each and every one of our Members and increased the quality of our publications. For the first time, we created an Online Membership at a substantially discounted rate to our Members. Moreover, we increased the renewal rates for all Members. All of these Membership efforts directly benefited the TWA Financial Statements – greatly. Are we done? No. Is there more to do? Of course. But, under the leadership of our current Membership Chair Jackie Serbus, the future remains bright. We are headed back to Dallas and Fort Worth. I continue to advocate that the DFW area has the potential to double TWA membership. In 2013, Jackie and Kendra initiated a Membership Drive, featuring deep-sea fishing trips, duck hunts, Remington rifles, and Yeti coolers as incentives. These prizes will be announced July 13, 2013, at the Grand Auction of our Convention. Also in 2013, Jackie and Kendra, in conjunction with TWA Director John Miller III, formed the first TWA Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity in order to advise the TWA Membership Committee on ideas to increase membership diversity: a noble task long overdue. Thank you, Kendra, and our entire TWA membership team. A job well done…. Leave it to the Aggies.

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.



May 2013

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 Glen Webb, President, Abilene Greg Simons, Vice President, San Angelo Marcus T. Barrett IV, Treasurer, San Antonio Vacant, Second Vice President for Programs 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 Kari Hudspeth, 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 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 Henry Chappell 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 2013 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.


Mission Impacts


Volume 29 H Number 1 H 2013

8 Mountain Lions by mary o. parker


conservation legacy

For the Children, For the Future by Mary o. parker

46 The Pig Explosion by russell a. graves

50 Saline Lakes of the

Texas High Plains by Warren c. Conway, ph.d.

Dear TWA, I have been a member of TWA for several years. My family and I enjoy the magazine very much, and the information has been helpful since we purchased our small ranch in Guadalupe County. The other day, my eight year-old daughter, Paige, harvested her first Spring Turkey. She proudly took the attached photo to school with her the next day. She returned home later that day with a disturbing report that her teacher scolded her and told her to never bring another hunting picture into her classroom. Needless to say, I was disappointed and angry, and it upset my daughter. She was left wondering what exactly was wrong with responsible hunting. I sensed her pride had turned to shame. I contacted the school principal and teacher the next day to discuss the matter. They both reassured me that hunting pictures are allowed in the classroom but need to be approved by the teacher. The teacher also shared that the photo was not the problem and that my daughter was asked several times to put it away. So, it seems, that her enthusiasm may have been a bit excessive. Anyway, I believe we have a happy ending and would encourage others to support, promote and be proud of our hunting and outdoor legacy. It has been a tremendous blessing for my family. I know that I have seen hunting pictures submitted by members in your magazine in the past. If you are able to use this in one of the publications, it would go a long way to restore her pride in responsible hunting and conservation. Thanks a ton and keep up the great work!


Issues and Advocacy


hunting heritage


TWA Foundation


members in action

by Gary Joiner

Partnering for the Future by COL (R) Jerry Warden

by Kendra Roller

26 What's Your Fish I.Q? by Dr. Billy Higginbotham

28 Tell it to the Zombies by Ralph Winingham

32 A Few Words in Favor of Mutts by Henry Chappell

Jeff Kilgore Houston

36 Use of Camera Traps to Determine

Editor’s Note: Thank you, Jeff, for the great note and sharing your support for our state’s hunting heritage. It’s clear from the smile on Paige’s face and her apparent enthusiasm at school that she greatly enjoys the outdoors and the wildlife resource that you and other Texas private land stewards manage so well. Thank you for sharing her passion and harvest success!

Prey Availability for Mountain Lions in the Davis Mountains by Catherine Dennison, Patricia Moody Harveson, and Louis A. Harveson


In the June issue, Burt Rutherford writes about whitetail doe and fawn management, while Steve Nelle discusses the vital importance of Texas grasses for everything from wildlife to water. And, Eileen Mattei reports on the application of knowledge of bird behavior gained in recent years, and the need for further research, so that windpower and wildlife can coexist. This month will have more information about WildLife 2013, plus much more.

On the Cover

In 2011, thanks to major funding from private donors, a team of West Texas researchers, spearheaded by Dr. Patricia Moody-Harveson and working through Sul Ross University’s Borderlands Research Institute, began a study designed to learn more about mountain lion ecology. The project includes mountain lions on private land in the Davis Mountains and is slated to run up to a decade – the longest - D study ever of its kind in Texas. Learn more in Mary O. E Parker’s article beginning on page 8. (Photo by Jim Whitcomb, TPWD) TO THE LEGIONS OF HUNTERS...

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MAy 2013

The Mountain Lion

Texas’ Largest Cat




Meetings and events

For information on hunting seasons, call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (800) 792-1112, consult the 2012-2013 Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual, or visit the TPWD website at www.tpwd.state.tx.us.



May 10 Open Gate Learning Series: Focus on Practices to Mitigate Drought, facilitated by Holistic Management International. Spring Creek Ranch, Boerne, Texas. 9:00 - 4:00 pm. Learn from other ranchers including Steve Lewis, owner of Spring Creek Ranch and Peggy Sechrist, rancher from Gillespie County as well as Agricultural Professionals, Steve Nelle, Riparian Specialist and Richard Teague, PhD TAMU, Range Ecologist. Registration $20 includes lunch. Register at holisticmanagement. org. For more information, contact Peggy Sechrist at peggysechrist@gmail.com.

june 1 TBGA Sportsman's Celebration, Regions 1, 2, 3. Abilene Civic Center, Abilene. For more information, contact Justin Dreibelbis at jdreibelbis@texas-wildlife.org. june 20 Wildlife for Lunch Webinar, Small Acreage Wildlife Management presented by Rufus Stephens. See details on page 27 of this magazine. For more information, contact Helen Holdsworth at hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org.

May 2013


jANuA ry






TPa henN hob anle dle PhPea hea sasa ntnt s

TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION 3660 Thousand Oaks Dr., Suite 126 San Antonio, Texas 78247

July 11-14 WildLife 2013, TWA’s 28th Annual Convention, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. For more information, visit www.texas-wildlife. org or call TWA headquarters at (800) 839-9453. (See pages 38-41 of this issue for more details).

July 27 TBGA Sportsman’s Celebration, Region 4 & 8, Y.O. Ranch Hotel and Conference Center, Kerrville. For more information, contact Justin Dreibelbis at jdreibelbis@texas-wildlife.org.



Contact David Brimager dbrimager@texas-wildlife.org 800-839-9453

July 18 Wildlife for Lunch Webinar, Water for Wildlife presented by Steve Nelle. See details on page 27 of this magazine. For more information, contact Helen Holdsworth at hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org.




Texas PredatorsThe Quest The Iconic for Quail White-tailed Deer

May 16 Wildlife for Lunch Webinar, Predator Control presented by Mike Bodenchuk. See details on page 27 of this magazine. For more information, contact Helen Holdsworth at hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org.

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May 15 Social Media for the Sake of Natural Resources, presented by Amy Hays, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, TWA office, San Antonio. For more information, contact Helen Holdsworth at hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org.

May 18 TBGA Sportsman's Celebration, Regions 5, 6, 7. Fireman's Training Center, Brenham. For more information, contact Justin Dreibelbis at jdreibelbis@texas-wildlife.org.


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Two known breeding populations of mountain lions occur in the state: one in South Texas and the other in West Texas. A recent study using DNA samples found that the South Texas population has lost 10-20 percent of its genetic diversity in the last 70 years.



May 2013

Mountain Lion s Questions Outweigh Answers About Texas’ Biggest Cat Article by Mary O. Parker

Photo by Jim Whitcomb, TPWD


n his story, “The Panther’s Scream,” beloved folklorist J. Frank Dobie writes of a character who’d just shot six turkeys in the Nueces River bottom. As the character lugged his harvest back to his horse “…the scream of a panther right behind him in the brush curdled his blood…The man knew what the panther was after; he dropped a turkey. He had gone but a short distance farther before he heard the awful scream again. He dropped another turkey. The next time the squall came from brush to one side of him. Finally, he had only one turkey left to drop…And, now, the scream came nearer, more terrifying. He dropped his last turkey.” The story ends happily with the man mounting his steed and “tearing a hole through the brush.” That scream, known as a “caterwaul,” has been described as spine-tingling, chilling, akin to a woman’s cry of terror. No surprise that it would strike fear into the heart of a man alone in the brush. It served not only as the impetus for this Dobie tale, but for many a great campfire yarn as well. The truth is that the real reason for the panther’s “scream” is less dramatic. That eerie cry comes from a female in estrus communicating both her location and her reproductive availability to nearby males. In reality, had the cat truly intended to grab a turkey – or a man, for that matter – she would have done so silently. Panthers – a.k.a. mountain lions – utilize a stalk-andambush hunting method in which silence plays a key role. These “selective predators”

carefully and quietly evaluate prey before expending valuable energy resources on the kill. In other words, explained TWA member and Director of Borderlands Research Institute, Dr. Louis Harveson, “They’re looking for the best food source with the least amount of energy expended.” So would the lion in Dobie’s tale have gone for those turkeys? Mountain lions sometimes scavenge and, had those turkeys been lying about who’s to say the cat wouldn’t have taken an opportunistic meal? But, add to the mix a man walking upright who (thanks to those six turkeys he carried) looked much larger than usual, and a female clearly sidetracked by her desire to mate, and the myth materializes. These shy animals have actually been known to abandon fresh kills when disturbed by humans. With the average mountain lion sighting lasting a mere 10 seconds, it’s easy to see why so many tall tales have grown around these charismatic creatures. TPWD gets up to a thousand reports of mountain lion sightings a year, but can validate only 1 percent of them. Scientists find them challenging to study since their solitary and elusive nature makes them difficult to observe; even after decades of research, questions about Texas’ largest cats – males average 120-150 pounds – still outweigh answers. In 2011, thanks to major funding from private donors, a team of West Texas researchers, spearheaded by Dr. Patricia



Photo courtesy of Borderlands Research Institute

m o u n tai n li o n s

Photo by Jim Whitcomb, TPWD

Home ranges of adult female mountain lions (yellow, red, and green) in the Davis Mountains averaged 30,822 acres, while the male (blue) averaged 128,915 acres.

Moody-Harveson and working through Sul Ross University’s Borderlands Research Institute, began a study designed to learn more about mountain lion ecology. The project includes mountain lions on private land in the Davis Mountains and is slated to run up to a decade – the longest study ever of its kind in Texas. The Davis Mountains Study, as it’s casually known, seeks to answer two primary questions: 1) Is mountain lion predation a limiting factor for prey in the Davis Mountains? 2) Are demographic patterns for mountain lions on private lands different from previous studies on public lands? To help answer those questions, researchers have so far outfitted 16 lions with GPS collars that download data every six hours. Information collected during the first 18 months from 104 documented kill sites provided insights regarding prey selection. The animals consumed deer about half (46 percent) of the time. Feral hogs were selected the next most often (15 percent), followed by javelina (11 percent), and the non-native aoudad (8 percent).

Until researchers know more about birth rates, survival, mortality, immigration, emigration, population density, and age and gender composition, no one is comfortable estimating Texas’ mountain lion population.



May 2013

Photo courtesy of Borderlands Research Institute

m o u n tai n li o n s

Photo courtesy of Borderlands Research Institute

Sul Ross State University graduate student, Ron Thompson, is shown here with a tranquilized mountain lion from the Davis Mountains Study. The first time a cat is captured for the study, researchers collect blood and feces samples, age and weigh the animal, and insert both an ear and PIT tag (a computer chip about the size of a grain of rice).

Data from the Davis Mountains Study shows the diet of mountain lions as determined by 104 verified kill sites. The “other” category includes 4 coyotes, 4 skunks, 2 foxes, 1 porcupine, and 1 coati. Said Bert Geary, a landowner participating in the study, “It was a little surprising to me how much they’ve adapted their diet to the invasives.”

Mountain lions go through a process which includes “search, pursue, kill, and consume” – what’s known as “handling time” – thus, predation rates are not spontaneous events, especially considering that consumption typically takes one to three days. Studies have shown that, on average, six to 10 days pass between large-game kills, while a female with two 5-month-old cubs needs to hunt a large-game animal about every four days to feed herself and her two cubs. Specific predation rate data for the Davis Mountains Study, however, is still in the works. Both male and female mountain lions disperse at 1-3 years of age to establish home ranges of their own, within which they’ll exclusively hunt. Female home ranges are smaller and tend to overlap with other females. If the habitat supports it (has the ecological carrying capacity), females often choose a home range close to where they were born. Males, on the other hand, disperse much greater distances in order to minimize inbreeding and avoid competing with other males for both females and prey. Female home ranges in the Davis Mountains Study have, thus far, averaged 30,822 acres. So far, a male home of 128,915 acres has been documented. Even with the small sample size, the findings correlate with a 1990s study conducted in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Therefore, it could be that home ranges in West Texas remain comparable regardless of whether lions create home ranges on public or private land. (But, keep in mind this caveat: the Davis Mountains Study has just begun, and the Big Bend Study took place over 20 years ago). In 2012, to better understand mountain lion distribution in



m o u n tai n li o n s

The Davis Mountains Study seeks to answer two primary questions: 1) Is mountain lion predation a limiting factor for prey in the Davis Mountains? and; 2) Are demographic patterns for mountain lions on private lands different from previous studies on public lands?

Texas, Moody-Harveson and Harveson created a map to model suitable habitat. It reflected highly suitable mountain lion habitat in areas – such as the Gulf Coast Plains – where modern-day mountain lion presence has not been confirmed. It also hints at regions that the species may have historically inhabited. The identification of such areas may be helpful in the future as dispersing lions inadvertently find their ways into urban areas and become problematic, creating the need for relocation sites. The predictive map also identified areas such as the Trans-Pecos and portions of South Texas as regions with highly suitable habitat. Currently, these are the only two areas in Texas with known breeding populations of mountain lions. TWA members and research scientists Dr. Mike Tewes and Dr. Randy DeYoung,



May 2013

and Texas A&M-Kingsville doctoral candidate Joe Holbrook, examined these two breeding populations during a study that began in 2009. The project, funded by TPWD, genetically compared past and present mountain lion populations from the two regions of Texas. When they compared 103 DNA samples from mountain lions stored in museum archives to nearly 200 samples extracted from cats in 1985-2010, they found that South Texas lions have experienced a 10-20 percent loss of genetic diversity within the past 70 years. Genetic diversity within the West Texas population, however, has remained stable. The West Texas population receives an ongoing influx of immigrants, which adds fresh genes to its pool. Because it is situated between two major sources of mountain lions – the Rocky Mountains of the western

United States and the Sierra Madres of Mexico – the location of the Trans-Pecos region helps prevent isolation. South Texas lions, on the other hand, face rising urbanization as human population not only grows in the Rio Grande Valley but pushes downward from Central Texas and upward from Mexico. Add to the mix man-made structures (e.g. roads, fences too high to jump) and the clearing of habitat, and the combination contributes to the population’s isolation and vulnerability. Said DeYoung, “Part of why South Texas mountain lions are vulnerable is that they aren’t surviving or reproducing. We’re getting some exchange, but what’s probably happening is that some of the survival rates aren’t very good.” But, he stressed, like much else about lions in Texas, no one’s quite sure what truly lies at the root

Photo by Jim Whitcomb, TPWD

Photo by Jim Whitcomb, TPWD

m o u n tai n li o n s

of the problem. “What I do know for sure is that increased monitoring of the population is much needed,” he added. As DeYoung noted, the South Texas population receives some exchange – including a West Texas lion every now and then – but no one knows just how much genetic exchange is going on. To better understand how, when, and where mountain lion immigrants and emigrants come and go, said Tewes, “I would like to see some studies on landscape connectivity, some work on mountain lion corridors’ particularly, in South Texas, where they’re vulnerable for a variety of reasons.” Considering the vulnerability of the South Texas population, one wonders what constitutes a viable population. And, what would a viable mountain lion population figure look like elsewhere in Texas? Said Moody-Harveson, “We’re a long way from being able to answer that kind of question. We’re still trying to determine answers to the simple questions like density rates and what a good survival rate would be.” Without understanding more about birth rates, survival, mortality, immigration, emigration, age and gender composition, and population density, trying to come up with a figure for a sustainable population is like putting the cart before the horse, before you’ve bought the cart. Okay, what about this question: How many mountain lions live in Texas? No one knows that one, either. And, anyone who tells you he does just might be Texas’ next great storyteller.

Photo courtesy of Borderlands Research Institute

Mountain lions are termed “short-range cursorial predators.” When pursuing prey, they accelerate rapidly and give chase at a high speed; however, they cannot sustain such speeds for long.

A litter of two kittens has been among the mountain lions captured so far during the Davis Mountains Study.



issues and Advocacy


TWA Supporting Measures to Protect Private Property Owners article by GARY JOINER


he Texas Wildlife Association is supporting legislative efforts in Austin to improve protections for Texas private property owners. TWA supports HB 3547 by State Rep. Rene Oliveira of Brownsville. This bill addresses the common carrier permit application process at the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC). These applications are submitted by private pipeline companies. If these application permits are approved, then private companies are automatically granted the power of eminent domain to condemn private property to construct a pipeline. The intent HB 3547 is to create a meaningful process for review and approval of these applications. Such a process will provide for an opportunity to present facts at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). The bill also creates specific points for pipeline companies to further prove they will conduct business as a common carrier, whereby resources owned by another company can transport their commodity through the single pipeline so as to reduce the number of pipelines constructed across private property across the state. These provisions provide better proof that a private pipeline company will operate in the sense of public use, and thus, ought to be granted the power of eminent domain. Without these requirements, private pipeline companies are not held accountable, and private property rights will be compromised. TWA supports the committee substitute for HB 3168 by State Rep. Susan King of Abilene. The bill relates to wind energy facilities and the rights of landowners on which winder facilities are



May 2013


Photo by Texas Bison Association

measures to protect private property owners

located. TWA believes the legislation provides improved process transparency and greater protections for private landowners involved in wind energy development contracts. TWA supports HB 1713 by State Rep. J. M. Lozano of Kingsville. The bill establishes a special fund within the county to reimburse landowners whose fences and gates are damaged or destroyed by human smuggling, human trafficking and evading arrest. Funds for this fund will be generated by the sale of abandoned vehicles arising from this crime and a $15 fee, as a result of probation, from one of these offenses. The responsibility for reimbursement in HB 1713 still rests with the county Sheriff, who will have to develop procedures for taking/ evaluating claims and taking the claims the Commissioner's Court for consideration and payment. TWA supports HB 677 by State Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth (TWA Life Member) and SB 1271 by State Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler that provide permanent exemption from unreasonable Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) rules and the agency's overreach against owners of dams where total capacity is 500 acre feet or less and in counties with a population of less than 350,000. TWA supports SB 174 by State Sen. Craig Estes of Wichita Falls. This legislation adds bison to the current Estray Law. The Texas Agriculture Code does not include bison in the list of animals protected under the Estray Law. This is likely because bison have been regarded as wildlife and have not traditionally been “owned� as private property, like cattle or other livestock.

Under the current classification, when a bison roams from its owner’s land onto another person's property, the property owner is not required to provide notice to the owner of the bison, as is the case with roaming cattle under the Estray Law. The property owner may dispose of the animal, as they see fit. This bill strikes a balance between the private property rights of bison owners and the real property rights of neighboring landowners by adding bison to the current Estray Law. Other bills of TWA interest in Austin: The Texas Wildlife Association supports HB 2933 by State Rep. Tracy King of Uvalde that creates a game animal meat safety task force. The task force shall: (1) study and examine trends in the commercially raised game meat industry in this state, including the current regulations and safeguards regarding game meat, and the differences in the inspection of game meats compared to the inspection of traditional meats, including beef, pork, and poultry; and 2) develop a short-term and a long-term commercially raised game animal food safety plan to strengthen safeguards for commercially raised native and nonnative wildlife game animals. Not later than December 1, 2014, the task force must submit the short-term and the long-term commercially raised game animal food safety plans to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House of Representatives.



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


Partnering for the Future article by COL (R) Jerry Warden photos by Jerry Warden, and TYHP Archives The Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) was founded on the principal of partnership. Initially, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) joined together in the mid 1990s and created TYHP. As the program was being developed, it became obvious that a coalition of likeminded organizations would be necessary to achieve success. Over the years, numerous conservation organizations, sponsors and individuals have joined forces to promote the future of hunting by providing an easy, affordable, and efficient means of developing future generations of safe, educated and ethical hunters. Many of these organizations have elected to support TYHP because of the complexities associated with developing their own youth programs that go beyond outdoor education and actually take kids hunting. These partners provided the necessary funding that has resulted in TYHP becoming the recognized model for youth hunting. While TPWD provides funding

for about 50 percent of the program, TWA looks to the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation (TWAF) for the balance of the budget. TWAF, in turn, strives for grants and donations to support youth hunting. These partners, along with TYHP landowners, Huntmasters and volunteers who provide millions of dollars worth of support in irreplaceable resources and labor, make the program possible. Over TYHP’s history, the combined efforts of all partners has allowed TYHP to take over 18,000 youth hunting, which, in reality, has provided hunting experiences to 39,305 individuals. Without a doubt, these individuals, who do not include the 16,000 volunteers that conducted these hunts, will be lifelong supporters of hunting, the outdoors and what TWA stands for. If you know any of these sponsors/supporters, please thank them for their role in preserving our Hunting Heritage. American Conservation and Education Society is the funding organization of the Houston Safari Club (HSC). TYHP’s relationship with HSC dates back to 1998. This year, it provided major funding for scholarships, primarily for inner-city Houston youths. It also provides funding for Houston Area Huntmaster Workshops, which provides volunteer training for the program.


Wonder what a deer might see?



May 2013

Austin SCI has provided indirect funding for scholarships through its Christo Kaiser Award. Annually, it has provided both the food

A successful hunter at the Gerry Stearns Memorial Hunt.

and meal preparations for the World’s Largest Super Hunt that takes more than 60 kids hunting over the course of a single weekend. Counting landowners and supporters, the hunt easily exceeds 200 participants. SCI-A has assisted TWA/TYHP with its Life’s Better Outside Experience and other displays by providing Sensory Safari wildlife mounts. This year, it awarded TYHP with an unsolicited grant. Blaine Smith Memorial Fund was established in honor of Blaine Smith, one of the program’s physically-challenged hunters who passed away. The funding is to be used primarily to support our hunts that are intended for physically-challenged hunters. Cabela’s is one of the program’s continuing partners. Its generous donation has provided the trademark TYHP orange caps given to every youth hunter as part of their required equipment, as well as other support. This donation has resulted in thousands of dollars of savings to the program for many years.

partnering for the future


Helpful instruction at the Hixon clay range.

G. Rollie White Foundation has a long history of supporting TYHP. Its substantial funding provided scholarships for youths statewide and for volunteer training, which allowed for program expansion. It also provided funding for TYHP’s much-needed marketing efforts and enhancements to its interactive website designed to increase youth participation in hunting. Louie Schreiner Youth Hunt Sponsoring Syndicate, has supported TWA and its programs for 23 years. Financial support from the Syndicate provides a hunt of a lifetime each year for youth on the world famous Y.O. Ranch. The syndicate is a group of unrelated individuals who come together for the common interest of preserving our Hunting Heritage. McBride Foundation is affiliated with the Austin Woods and Water Club (AWWC) and has been funding TYHP since its beginning. Its grants have provided needed, direct funding of TYHP for general use of the program. Additionally, this foundation has also provided funding directly to the AWWC Youth Hunting Program that operates under TYHP. This indirectly resulted in major cost savings to TYHP. This program has increased the quantity of new hunters and serves as the model for other outdoor organizations. National Rifle Association (NRA) has been one of the program’s key partners since the inception of TYHP. Grants from the South and West Texas chapters have provided the program with equipment for hunts, equipment to be used for recruiting/ introducing individuals to hunting and shooting, and funding for volunteer training.

A happy hunter, sporting a Cabela’s cap, with a nice buck harvested under the Managed Lands Deer Program.

National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has supported TYHP by conducting and sponsoring youth turkey hunts since 2002. It is one more organization that goes beyond providing financial support. It has trained members through Huntmaster Workshops, so they can run all types of youth hunts, not just turkey hunts. It also assists with program insurance. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has provided support and funding since 2000 to TWA and TYHP. RMEF funding supports TYHP hunts, Huntmaster Training and volunteer appreciation measures. RMEF has also provided for educational outings and summer camps designed to introduce inner-city youths from the Houston area to outdoor, wildlife and hunting activities. RMEF has also helped finance youth elk hunts in New Mexico for TYHP’s essay contest winners. Rotary Club of Corpus Christi’s Harvey Weil Sportsman Conservationist Award Trust is a focus of the Corpus Christi Rotary Club, which has been supporting TYHP with substantial grants since 2005. These grants have provided scholarships and funding for Coastal Bend and South Texas Area hunts.

Texas Farm Bureau has partnered with TYHP for more than a decade and has provided funding used to recognize volunteers, landowners and other supporters who make the program possible. Texas Youth Hunting Partners is a funding source developed by TWAF. To date, it has raised significant funds used to provide both full and partial scholarships for the program. Key contributors who shy away from accolades but deserve recognition are Cargill Inc., Dynamic Systems Inc., Vicky and David Black, Evelyn and Carroll Summers, David Darr, The Alfred S. Gage Foundation (Roxana C. Hayne, Joan N. Kelleher, Julie Stacy & Nancy Hayne, Directors), Susan and Steve Lewis, and many more partners, including some who wish to remain anonymous. In addition to funding, Southwest Trailers, Planet Pickup, Buckhorn Creek Ranch (Jim Lucas), South Branch LLC, Insurance One (Jerry Carrigan), and Laden Pools (Rick Laden) provided the program with an enclosed cargo trailer and needed equipment.

Family bonding – an essential ingredient.




partnering for the future

A portion of the participants at the Cave Creek Super Hunt, supported by Austin Woods and Waters Club and Safari Club International-Austin.

TPWD Cooperative Grant, since 1997, has provided competitive support, as funds were available. In addition to the highlighted support, a number of other organizations and individuals have provided funding to support special needs of the program. Many of these organizations and supporters have gone the extra mile by committing to Huntmaster training, providing hunts and/or direct, hands-on participation in our program. TYHP could not function at its cur-


rent level and continue to expand without these important partners. Thanks to these and others for their grants, donations and invaluable support that contribute to our joint efforts to ensure hunting will be around for future generations to enjoy. If you or your organization was omitted, please contact Jerry Warden at (800) 460-5494. It is very important to us that all of our contributors receive the proper recognition.

More than rifles and shotguns.

A hunter skills trail being conducted by local Game Wardens and Huntmasters.



2013 SPONSORS (AS OF MARCH 31, 2013)












May 2013


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corporate partners program TWA has partnered with these quality companies to offer our members quality products and/or discounts, with a portion of the proceeds to support TWA’s mission efforts!


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.

Texas Wildlife Association texas-wildlife.org

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 01/31/14



stand aside, mesquite. sendero® coming through.

New Sendero® herbicide is the most effective, most consistent chemical control of mesquite ever. In aerial trials, it provided control of mesquite at more than 10 percentage points over a mixture of Remedy® Ultra and Reclaim® herbicides,1 which has been the industry standard for 25 years. Also, with Sendero, control was nearly 40 percent more consistent,1 making it the new standard in mesquite control. Clear the way to more low-cost grass for livestock, more fringe habitat for wildlife and a lasting legacy for future generations on the land. Sendero is the path to long-term range management. Find out more at www.RangeAndPasture.com.

1 Cummings DC, Langston VB, Burch PL. 2012. GF-2791 [Sendero], a new herbicide containing aminopyralid and clopyralid, for honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) control in southwestern rangelands. Technical Presentation, 65th Annual Meeting and Trade Show of the Society for Range Management, Spokane, Wash. ®™ Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow. Sendero, Reclaim and Remedy Ultra are not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions. ©2013 Dow AgroSciences LLC R38-890-004 (03/13) BR 010-58024 DARPRANG3058

TWA 2013


RECRUIT YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS TO JOIN TWA IN 2013! TWA’s Membership Drive Begins on Jan. 1 and Ends on June 28.

Results of the Membership Drive contest will be announced on July 13 during the Grand Auction at TWA’s WildLIfe 2013 convention in San Antonio. RECRUITER PRIZES: The member who recruits the highest number of new members will receive a full-day deep sea fishing trip for two people out of Port Aransas on a 47-foot Viking and receive a YETI cooler. This fishing trip is being donated by Jason Ardoin of Southern Technical Control. The member who recruits the most membership dollars will receive a three-day goose and duck hunt for two hunters in Eastern Alberta, Canada, with Great White Holdings. Thank you to our donors Lloyd McMahon & Jon McMahon of Great White Holdings. *Travel not included with these donations.

NEW MEMBER PRIZES: TWA will reward two new members who join Jan. 1 – June 28. All new members will be entered into a drawing, and two winners will be announced on July 13 at the Grand Auction during WildLife 2013 in San Antonio. One member will receive two half-day bay fishing trips out of Corpus Christi for four people, available July 2013 – June 2014. Thank you to our donor Southern Technical Control. A second new member will receive one Remington Model 700 BDL .270 rifle. Thank you to Remington for this donation.

Thank you to our donors Southern Technical Control, Great White Holdings, and Remington!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: New members can join online or mail/fax their membership application or call the TWA office directly to join. New members MUST mention the name of their sponsor (current TWA member) at the time they join or include the sponsor name on their membership application. If the sponsor is not mentioned or listed, the recruiter will not receive credit for the new member for purposes of the TWA Membership Drive contest. To find printable membership forms, visit the News section on the front page of our website www.texas-wildlife.org. If you have questions, please contact Kendra Roller at kroller@texas-wildlife.org.

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


TWA Participates in Texas Game Warden Association Event

TWA Director Amanda Hurst visits with a participant of the 1st Annual Justin Hurst Memorial 5K Run prior to the event’s start at Brackenridge Recreational Complex in Edna.

TWA’s exhibit at the Brackenridge Recreational Complex featured a Wii console and programs for youth of all ages to enjoy during the two days of the Texas Game Warden Association’s even in Edna.

The Texas Wildlife Association was honored to be an exhibitor at the Texas Game Warden Association’s event in Edna, March 15-16, which featured a Catfish Tournament and Benefit Concert and the 1st Annual Justin Hurst Memorial 5K Run. Justin Hurst was a Game Warden and active TWA member who tragically died



May 2013

in the line of duty. His End of Watch was March 17, 2007. Amanda Hurst is a TWA Director from El Camp who invited TWA to be a part of the special event that honored her late husband and raised funds to help introduce as many youth, as possible, to the outdoors through activities such as fishing and hunting.

TWA Director Amanda Hurst and son Kyle visit with a guest prior to the start of the 1st Annual Justin Hurst Memorial 5K Run on March 16 in Edna.


Get Involved with YOUR Association! The Texas Wildlife Association has many venues for members who desire to volunteer and take a more active role within the organization. One way to get more involved is to participate in events within your region. There are eight regions within the state, and each region has volunteer leaders that help organize TWA events, recruit new members and

TWA Statewide Membership Chair:

serve as a voice back to TWA headquarters. Each region is looking for more involvement from our membership. If you have an interest in getting involved in your region, please reach out to the appropriate Region Chair, or contact the TWA Office for more information.

Jackie Serbus, jackieserbus@gmail.com

Region 1 (Trans-Pecos): Misty Sumner, mmiissttyy@aol.com Chance Parker, tntbuilders.alpine@sbcglobal.net Mac Stringfellow, macstring@sbcglobal.net Region 2 (Panhandle): Ken Cearley, ken@cornerstoneranchingsolutions.com Region 3 (Cross Timbers): Ray Henicke, rayhenicke@yahoo.com Russ Hayward, rhayward@sbcglobal.net Region 4 (Edwards Plateau): Dr. Dan McBride, danlinmc@tstar.net Doug DuBois, Jr., dedhm1@att.net Team Austin: Bill Knolle, wmk@khkclaw.com

Region 5 (Post Oak Savannah): Dr. Larry Redmon, l-redmon@tamu.edu Team Dallas: Stephen Hill, hill2222@sbcglobal.net Region 6 (Pineywoods): John Baker, rockpileranch@sbcglobal.net Team Houston: Kevin Comiskey, kevin.comiskey@bch-insurance.com Region 7 (Coastal Praries): Vacant Region 8 (South Texas): W.W. Jones, III, wwjonesiii@aol.com Baron Clifford, bear.clifford@yahoo.com

Prices Recognized with National Environmental Stewardship Award Texas Wildlife Association members Gary and Sue Price of the 77 Ranch in Blooming Grove were recognized in March as the national winner of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Environmental Stewardship Award during the 2013 Cattle Industry Convention. The award recognizes the family’s outstanding environmental stewardship of their ranch. Sue Price serves TWA as a Director. The Prices and the 77 Ranch actively participate as field tour hosts for school groups and students, as part of the TWA Conservation Legacy L.A.N.D.S. program. In a press release, NCBA stated that the Prices’ land under their stewardship is under tremendous pressure from urban and suburban development because it is just 53 miles from the ever-growing Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area.

Thanks to their efforts, a jewel of a prairie still exists, complete with native grasses and habitat. NCBA pointed out that although the majority of producers in their area were destocking their ranches and marketing their calves early due to the exceptional drought in Texas in 2011, the Prices were able to maintain their entire herd and Gary and Sue Price of the 77 Ranch in Blooming Grove (middle of their normal production schedule photo)are recognized by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) for its Environmental Stewardship Award during the 2013 for the year. Cattle Industry Convention. The Prices began assembling their ranch as a young couple 36 years their extensive improvements and efforts ago. Over the years, they have carefully to preserve wildlife habitat, the Prices purchased land that joins their original have been honored by the Texas Parks and ranch or that is nearby. The land under Wildlife Department with the statewide their management ranges from farmed- Lone Star Land Steward Award. out cotton fields to untouched remnants of the Blackland Prairie. As a result of




fish & fishing

What’s Your Fish I.Q? Article and Photos by

Dr. Billy Higginbotham, Professor and Extension Wildlife and Fisheries Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service The ability to identify and manage various species that comprise your private impoundment’s fish population is essential for producing sustained quality fishing. Let’s find out how much you know about fish and fish management by taking a true/false multiple choice “fish exam.” 1. Coloration of a fish species is a good method for identification. True or False?

2. Which fish species is NOT a member of the sunfish family? a. Redear sunfish b. Largemouth bass c. Bluegill d. White crappie e. All are sunfish species f. None are sunfish species

3. This forage species is to largemouth bass, as browse species are to whitetailed deer: a. b. c. d.

Fathead minnows Bluegill Threadfin shad Tilapia

8. The greatest impediment to achieving satisfactory aquatic weed control in Texas private impoundments is: a. Stocking too few grass carp b. Mis-measurement of pond size/volume c. Mis-identification of the targeted weed species d. Failure to follow herbicide label directions

9. A season-long (April-September) fertility program is an effective method to:

a. Double fish production (pounds/acre) b. Create additional aquatic weed problems c. Clear a muddy pond d. Increase a pond’s pH value

4. Rotenone can be used to selectively remove bullhead catfish from a pond without harming blue or channel catfish present.

a. b. c. d.

One-fourth One-half One-third Three-quarters

a. Establish spawning containers for catfish b. Feed a floating fish ration to the catfish c. Stock 8 inch or larger catfish fingerlings every 3-5 years d. Remove bass-bluegill populations to reduce catfish predation e. Stock 4 inch catfish fingerlings every other year

13. Those little yellow grubs you sometimes find in your bass and catfish fillets involve a complex life cycle with host species that include:

a. Anglers, fish and mussels b. Wading birds, snails and fish c. Bullfrogs, crawfish and fish d. Aquatic plants, mosquito larvae and fish

14. The ideal ranges of pH and dissolved oxygen, respectively, for fish in Texas ponds, are:

True or False?

5. Largemouth bass can efficiently utilize bluegill that are no more than _____ of the largemouth’s total length:

12. What is the best method to maintain a channel catfish population in a bassbluegill pond?

10. Identify the species in the above photograph: a. b. c. d.

a. b. c. d.

pH 6.5-8.5, d.o. 5-10 ppm pH 6.5-11.0, d.o. 4-8 ppm pH 6.0-8.0, d.o. 2-5 ppm pH 4.5-5.5, d.o. 4-12 ppm

Fathead minnow Black crappie Longear sunfish Bluegill

6. Which species are capable of decimating fish populations in small ponds: a. Double-crested cormorant (water turkey) b. River otter c. Great blue heron d. Alligator snapping turtle e. b & d f. a & b

7. The biggest obstacle to producing quality largemouth bass fishing in private impoundments is: a. b. c. d.


Wrong forage fish present Overabundance of aquatic vegetation Under-harvest of small bass Muddy water


May 2013

15. This species is often misidentified. What is it? (See above image.) SEE QUESTION 6. One of these birds poses a threat to your fish population, while the other is harmless. Do you know which is which?

11. Which compounds are normally used to clear a pond that is muddy, due to suspended clay particles: a. Salt b. Alum c. Hydrated lime d. Gypsum

e. a & c f. b & d

a. b. c. d.

Channel catfish Black bullhead catfish Bowfin Flathead catfish

fish & fishing

There are more than one million private impoundments in the Lone Star State.

KEY 1. False. Coloration is a poor characteristic to use for fish identification, as water quality (e.g., water clarity) greatly impacts coloration. For example, the clearer the water, the more vivid the coloration of fish. 2. E. All four species are members of the sunfish family, Centrachidae. 3. B. The bluegill’s ability to spawn throughout the summer months and over-winter provides largemouth bass with the sustained source of forage they need to maintain growth. 4. False. Unfortunately, most fish species present in Texas are more sensitive to rotenone than bullheads. When bullheads begin to die as a result of a rotenone treatment, rest assured that every other fish species present succumbed to the chemical, as well. 5. C. The shape of bluegills prevents a 12-inch-long bass from feeding on bluegill much more than 4 inches long, which is one-third of the predator’s total length. Managers must maintain “All sizes of bluegill for all sizes of bass” to maintain a balance between bass and bluegill populations. However, for more streamlined shaped forage species such as threadfin shad, bass can feed on individuals approximately one-half of their total length. Bass swallow their food whole – if it will not fit in their mouths, they cannot eat it! 6. F. River otters can be controlled as nuisance furbearers, while double-crested cormorants can be controlled via a permit issued by TPWD. All other species listed have a negligible impact on fish populations. 7. C. Without a doubt, under-harvest of 8 to 12-inch-long bass results in a stunted bass population. Private waters often have limited fishing pressure, and this can lead to an over-abundance of these smaller predators that suffer from competition among themselves for forage. 8. C. A tremendous amount of time and money is wasted annually by Texas pondowners, because they do not properly identify the problematic weed species before initiating chemical, biological or

mechanical control efforts. Consult the Aquaplant website (http://aquaplant.tamu.edu) for weed identification and control assistance. 9. A. By increasing the base of the food chain (phytoplankton), a fertility program easily doubles the standing crop of fish present from an average of 100 pounds per surface acre to 200 pounds. 10. D. If you want to grow largemouth bass, you have to have bluegill in your pond. They can be differentiated from “imposters” by four characteristics: 1) small mouth, 2) black/blue short earflap, 3) vertical bars on each side and 4) a dark “ink blotch” on the rear of the dorsal (top) fin. Other species commonly used to supplement the bluegill as forage include redear sunfish, threadfin shad and tilapia. 11. F. Gypsum and alum are the compounds of choice to facilitate the clearing of a muddy pond. 12. C. Predation on channel catfish eggs, fry and small fingerlings will prevent successful catfish recruitment, whenever bass and bluegill are present. However, stocking advanced (8 inch or larger) fingerlings every few years will guarantee you a source of fillets for your family fish fries. 13. B. A wading bird (e.g., heron) drops an intermediate stage of the parasite into the water where it burrows into a snail. After further development, another life stage leaves the snail and burrows into the flesh of a fish host, where it may remain in the grub stage for up to two years. The cycle is completed when a wading bird ingests a fish infected with the grub stage of the parasite. 14. A. These are the ideal ranges for pH and dissolved oxygen. As pH drops below 5.0 and dissolved oxygen drops below 3.0 ppm, fish populations could be adversely affected. 15. B. Black bullheads are often called “mudcats” and can be identified by their black barbels (whiskers) and blunt (as opposed to deeply forked) tails. They compete with desirable catfish species for food and space.


Predator Control Michael Bodenchuk


Small Acreage Wildlife Management Rufus Stephens


Water for Wildlife Steve Nelle


Brush Sculpting with Wildlife in Mind Ken Cearley


Deer Antlers as a Management Tool David Hewitt The Texas Wildlife Association and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension sponsor lunchtime webinars one Thursday of each month. If you are not able to attend the live webinar, each presentation is archived on the TWA website.

It’s Easy! 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, sciencebased wildlife management options delivered by experts to you in the comfort of your own home or office.

NO NEED TO TRAVEL! 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.

QUESTIONS? So how did you do? If you scored 13-15 correct answers, you deserve an honorary fisheries degree from Texas A&M University! If you answered only 8-12 questions correctly, we will see what we can do about getting you a degree from Auburn University! If you scored 4-7 correct answers, there is hope – contact your local county Extension agent for help. And, if you scored 3 or less correct answers? Close the magazine now, and head straight to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Wildlife and Fisheries website at http://wildlife.tamu.edu, and peruse the publications targeting farm pond management! Spring is upon us…Good Fishing!

Contact Helen Holdsworth at (210) 826-2904 or hholdsworth@texas-wildlife.org

LIVE WEBINARS NOON - 1 P.M. www.texas-wildlife.org



Guns & Shooting

Tell it to the Zombies Article and Photos by

Ralph Winingham


he fascination about zombies – with the release of “The Night of the Livthe brain-eating undead horde so ing Dead,” directed by George Romero. popular in movies, television and print – In that movie, the recently deceased are can be a little confounding for old-school re-animated into slow moving cannibals, hunters and target shooters. apparently as the result of radioactive Growing up in the rural farm land of contamination from a Venus space probe Nebraska, my firearms and gear of choice that exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere. were designed to punch holes in alumiThat black and white film established num cans or slash through cardboard the living dead – probably the perfect exwhile visualizing an advancing threat of ample of an oxymoron – also known as war-painted Indians or six-gun shooting zombies, could only be stopped by incinbanditos. eration or a blow/shot to the head. Perhaps those threats of older days This past year, the Center for Disease have fallen to the wayside because of poControl became a part of the zombie litical correctness or maybe today’s firecraze by releasing Taking the Mossberg Model 464 ZMB Lever Action rifle out for arm enthusiasts demand more exciting “Zombie Preparedness” information a little range time, with a handy Browning Zombie Apocalypse knife on my belt, just in case, joining the zombie craze just seems targets. Another theory is that zombies on its website. Federal officials reported “a like the timely thing to do for any outdoor enthusiast looking for an entertaining experience. are more acceptable targets, because they tongue in cheek campaign to engage new can be shot without the possibility of ofaudiences with preparedness messages fending anyone or becoming the subject has proven to be a very effective platform. of criticism. Nobody has rushed forward to organize “People for We continue to reach and engage a wide variety of audiences on all the Ethical Treatment of Zombies.” hazards preparedness via Zombie Preparedness; and as our own No matter what the reason, zombie targets and zombie fighting director, Dr. Ali Khan, notes, ‘If you are generally well equipped gear have taken the outdoor industry by storm. The list of items to deal with a zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for a hurspecifically designed to make a potential zombie killer the best ricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack.’ So please log on, equipped, most effective destroyer of the undead is nearly endless. get a kit, make a plan and be prepared!” “The craze has been around longer than people thought it Stepping up to the plate to provide the most effective means of would,” said Scott Grange, director of public relations for Brown- stopping a zombie, outdoor equipment and firearm industry maring. keting managers have gone to great lengths in creativity. Firearms, “It just seems to be the latest marketing phase. They go in cy- knives, targets, accessories, optics and a variety of other items have cles. We introduced our zombie knife last year as just kind of a been tossed into the mix of undead-fighting equipment. whim. Deciding whether the gear is actually a necessity or is just anoth“Diane Carver, our knife product manager, introduced the er fun outdoor tool is up to the individual, but based on the popuzombie knife at the summer blast (one of three major trade shows larity of the products, it seems that a lot of people have adopted the held each year), and it was huge,’’ Grange said, explaining that Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.” sales of the knife eclipsed all other models. The following are just a few examples of must-have products The firearms division at Browning has not seriously gone after designed to successfully prepare for the zombie threat – if it ever the zombie market, he added. The only Browning firearm that happens. could be considered as specially geared for undead action is the Mossberg Model 464 ZMB Lever Action .30-30 Rifle: Like the new T-Bolt .22-caliber bolt action rifle called the “Varmint Reap- ugliest puppy in a litter, this little rifle is a modern-day transformaer Suppressor Ready.” tion of one of the most popular calibers in the county that is so While much of the zombie gear fascination is relatively recent, radically different that it prompts a love it or hate it reaction from the roots of the craze in this country most likely date back to 1968 shooters.



May 2013

Guns & Shooting

Clearly identified as “not a toy” and designed for use on “zombies only,” the Hornady Zombie Max rifle ammunition is a bit more expensive than standard ammo, but it seems to be quite popular.

Released last summer “on a whim,” according to Scott Grange with Browning, the Browning Zombie Apocalypse knife quickly became the best- selling blade produced by the sporting goods company.

It features a quick-adjusting, tacticalstyle 6-position synthetic stock; Picatinny tri-rail forend with rubber ladder rail covers; durable black oxide receiver; compact 16 ¼-inch barrel with removable A-2 style flash suppressor; adjustable 3-dot fiber optic sights; front and rear sling swivel studs; six-round total capacity; matte blued metal finishes; and drilled/tapped receiver with scope rail included. A field test of the rifle found that it was quick and easy to handle. Even with the short barrel, 50-yard, three-shot groups of less than three inches from center to center were achieved with regularity. Recoil was minimal with both the special zombie ammo (see below) and standard .30-30 rounds. The suggested retail is $535. Hornady Zombie Max Ammunition: The only ammunition available that is specifically designed for zombies and only zombies, the Hornady Zombie Max rifle rounds can be found in .223 Remington, 7.62x39 mm, .308 Winchester and .30-30 Winchester calibers. The bullet tips are specially designed for rapid expansion. As a disclaimer, Hornady states on its website that “the ammunition is NOT a toy, but is intended only to be used on ZOMBIES, also known as the living dead, undead, etc. No human being, plant, animal, vegetable or mineral should be shot with Hornady Zombie Max ammunition. Again, we repeat, Hornady Zombie Max ammunition is for use on ZOMBIES ONLY, and that’s not a nickname, phrase or cute way of referring to anybody, place or thing. When we say Zombies, we mean ZOMBIES.”

The suggested retail price for the rifle ammunition ranges from $21.79 to $38.47 per 20-round box. Birchwood Casey Splattering Darkotic Targets: Preparing for a potential zombie assault requires practice, and using specially-designed targets to help practice make perfect would seem to be a good idea. The Birchwood Casey targets feature such zombie creatures as a pizza delivery guy, office worker, butcher and mall shopper; with an undead hog, dog, rabbit, rat and

Quite nice accuracy, particularly with the short barrel of the Mossberg Model 464 ZMB Lever Action .30-30 rifle, would be appreciated by any potential zombie slayer who would know only a head shot will dispatch the undead.

Complete with a lime-green case and working exactly the same as their other cleaning products, the Hoppe’s Elite Zombie Kit will help keep any shooter’s firearm in good working order.

deer thrown in for good measure. “The images are so realistic, you’ll think it smells like someone died,’’ according to the press release about the targets that show a white halo around each bullet hole. In addition, the company states: “Remember, shooting a zombie in any body part is loads of fun, but it takes a head shot to stop them cold.” An eight-pack of the 12-inch by 18-inch full color targets retails for $12.70. Browning Zombie Apocalypse Knife: Featuring a seven-inch, razor sharp drop point blade and an ultra secure lime-green handle, this knife is billed as providing “optimum balance and control when slashing and dashing or hacking through the detritus of a city in ruin.” On a more serious note, Browning officials state on the package that: “Despite what pop culture might lead you to believe, zombies or the chance of a zombie apocalypse are not real. The Browning Zombie Apocalypse Knife, however, is a very real knife that is sure to come in handy for a variety of camping and hunting tasks.” The knife package includes a black nylon sheath and bright red paracord lanyard, listing for a suggested retail of $61.95. Hoppe’s Elite Zombie Kit: Once the gunsmoke clears, any successful zombie slayer should make sure their firearm is in good working order, and the best way to do that is with a good cleaning. This year, Hoppe’s, which has been offering gun care cleaning products and accessories since 1903, introduced two new cleaning kits to help zombie fighters keep their firearms up and running.



Guns & Shooting

The Hoppe’s Elite Zombie Kit is available in a rifle/shotgun combination or pistol cleaning kit that contains four ounce bottles of Hoppe’s Elite Gun Cleaner; Hoppe’s Gun Oil with T3 and a cleaning cloth; and BoreSnakes in the most popular pistol, rifle and shotgun zombie-fighting calibers. The pistol kit includes 9mm, .40 and .45 caliber BoreSnakes, while the rifle/shotgun kit includes a 12 gauge BoreSnake as well as .223/5.56mm and .308/7.62mm BoreSnakes. Each kit is packaged in a reusable green hard plastic case. The Hoppe’s Elite Zombie Kits sell for a suggested retail of $59.99.

A variety of Birchwood Casey Splattering Darkotic targets depicting zombie creatures offer shooters some creative practice experiences on the range.



May 2013

Chef Ralph’s Seasoning Helps Keep Zombies Away! In an effort to stay on the cutting edge of the zombie apocalypse, Chef Ralph has offered the following recipe from the website www.ralphwiningham.com that is practically guaranteed to keep any member of the living dead horde from invading your kitchen. While Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning makes all kinds of wild game, meats, fish and vegetables delectable for normal people, zombies probably can’t handle the flavor boost. Keep a bottle of Chef Ralph’s handy for your extra seasoning pleasure, serve up a plate of this meatloaf, and then get ready to enjoy a zombie-free fine dining experience. Zombie Proof Macaroni Meatloaf 2 pounds ground venison 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs 1 tablespoon Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning 2 eggs 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 cup chopped onion 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 can (14.5-ounces) petite diced tomatoes in sauce 1/2 cup ketchup 1 teaspoon prepared mustard 2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup milk 1 cup Velveeta cheese, cubed 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning, to taste 1/2 cup grated cheddar or Gouda cheese

In a large bowl, mix ground meat, bread crumbs, Chef Ralph’s, eggs, Worcestershire, onion, garlic, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard. When well mixed, spread meat mixture in the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch casserole dish. Melt butter over medium heat in a large cooking pot. Add milk, Velveeta and macaroni to melted butter. Stir until cheese is melted. Pour macaroni and cheese mixture over meat mixture, sprinkle with a little Chef Ralph’s and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle grated cheddar or Gouda cheese over mixture and cook for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve with fresh garlic bread and garlic mashed potatoes – side dishes that might help repel any potential vampire threat. – Ralph Winingham

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Sporting Dogs

A Few Words in Favor of Mutts The late, great mountain lion hunter Henry McIntyre and his hounds. In a 2008 interview, McIntyre told me, “I like to breed them half-and-half, cold trailing dogs [blueticks and redticks] and running dogs [Walkers].”

Article by


henry chappell

tart with the ancient Spanish pointer, and cross it with a bloodhound. Now, breed the best of the litter to the best foxhound you can find. Again, choose the best of this litter, and breed it with a fine English pointer. Now, you have a litter of nondescript mongrels, right? Actually, you have something pretty close to the makings of a German shorthaired pointer, one of the most popular and versatile sporting breeds in the world. Of course, those old German hunters probably made lots of other crosses long lost to history, and many generations of line breeding set the breed’s characteristics; but, you get the idea. Our beloved purebreds resulted from judicious (and, let’s be honest, accidental) crossings of different breeds or types of dogs. While some of the old-time hunters and stockmen kept breeding re-



May 2013

Photos by

wyman meinzer

cords, they couldn’t afford to get hung up on pedigrees and notions of blood purity. A dog earned his keep, or he probably didn’t live to pass on his genes. My appreciation for mixed breed hunting dogs started early, when Toby, a Llewellyn setter, the best all-around shooting dog my father ever owned, followed his nose through a layer of pea gravel and several inches of Central Kentucky clay, under his chain-link kennel, to a remote kennel containing Fanny, a fine lemon-eared pointer bitch who’d just come into her full glory. Once there, he laid siege to her kennel with the single-mindedness for which males of the class Mammalia are justly infamous. After Dad got over his initial irritation, he shrugged and said, “Well, you know the pups will point a bird.” Sure enough, word got around Taylor

County that James Chappell’s Fanny was bred by his Toby. Dad had no trouble placing the large litter of “droppers.” Being setter-pointer hybrids, the pups varied in appearance from very setter-like to very pointer-like, with a couple scruffy ruffians in between. All made solid shooting dogs, except for one of the scruffy pups, Andy, who, being the beloved member of a family of my non-hunting first cousins, lacked opportunity. He did achieve a measure of fame, however, by jumping through an open backseat window of Aunt Ethel’s Buick and inhaling five pies intended for a family gathering. His memory lives on. Although people have long bred working dogs of similar type, as in “breed the best to the best, and hope for the best,” the concept of pure “breeds” is fairly recent, largely a product of a burgeoning, status-conscience

sporting dogs

middle class in Victorian and Edwardian England. Rather suddenly, people of a certain social strata turned up their noses at the working man’s efficient vermin-killing terrier, a general “type” recognized by all practical dog people, deeming it inferior to a purebred whose previous halfdozen generations of ancestors had never killed a rat. Fortunately, terrier prey-drive and hunting ability have been preserved in working lines of Jack Russell Terriers, rat terriers, and various practical crossings. Shooting dog breeds became more refined as breeders line-bred for certain hunting styles. Regional and bloodline difference arose within breeds. In the U.S., New England grouse hunters favored methodical English setters, while Southern bobwhite hunters breed for speed and range. The aforementioned German Shorthair, large and methodical in Europe, now runs the horizons with the best of the long tails in the U.S. (Some malicious people have gone so far as to suggest that discreet crosses to English pointers might account for those horizon-busting, open-coated shorthairs. Surely not!) Practical backwoodsmen have been reluctant to join the pedigree purists. In Big Thicket Legacy, edited by Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller, informant Cecil Overstreet describes the all-purpose “cur-dog” used to pen livestock, tree ‘coons and squirrels, hunt bears, and protect the home place: “What we call a cur dog was just a general mixture of dogs. They had dogs of all kinds and descriptions, took the best ones and interbred them, developed the cur dog, and the strain breeds true, the best dog in the world.” Nearly all of the East Texas cur dogs I’ve seen in old photos favor the modern blackmouth cur. This consistency suggests that the yeoman bred dogs very deliberately. Even today, Southern tree dog men won’t hesitate to cross a talented rat terrier with a feist, or a mountain cur with a treeing cur. Whitey, a treeing cur owned by my old hunting buddy and dog training mentor Donny Lynch, is one-eighth Walker hound. Not surprisingly, she’s a little more mouthy and cold-nosed than most curs, but deadly on squirrels and ‘coons. Yet, because she falls within the working parameters of a “treeing cur,” Whitey is eligible for registration with the National Kennel Club (NKC) and other working dog registries that place performance above purity and appearance. Likewise, my own Cate is recognized as a mountain cur, though she’s about 80 percent Kemmer cur or Kemmer Stock Mountain Cur. She could be bred to an Original Mountain Cur or a Kemmer cur, and her litter could be registered with the NKC. Serious hunters would never call her a mutt, and most would think of her as purebred, but the American Kennel Club (AKC) doesn’t even recognize her type. Stockmen take a similar approach. I often meet cowboys on West Texas ranches. Often as not, there’ll be a cowdog in the bed of the truck, if not in the passenger seat. The

Hunter Meinzer with a pair of future cowdogs, both 12-week-old border collie-kelpie mixes.

Ronnie Wells of the Texas Department of Corrections and Texas Ranger Richard Johnson with hounds trained to track fugitives. Most TDC hounds come out of treeing hound lines, but Wells and Dog Sergeant Steve Crowley don’t worry about pure breeding. Their motto: “Breed the best to the best, and demand the best.”



sporting dogs


@texaswildlife Randy Walker’s cowdogs – a border collie (left) and border collie-Catahoula cross.

conversation will go something like this: “Australian?” “Yes sir, mostly. There’s a little Catahoula cur-dog way back. Puts extra grit in her, I believe.” While tweedy hunters and members of the “Fancy” might be appalled by open registries (and open minds), any veterinarian will tell you that “hybrid vigor” isn’t a myth. Sure enough, the hip, eye, and skin problems so common among today’s purebred dogs are rare among the backwoods types. Still, given the abundance of excellent bloodlines, why would anyone looking for a pointing dog or retriever take a chance on a crossbreed? Today’s breeders produce precocious purebred puppies with incredible consistency. Furthermore, you can get a hunting dog pup out of a famous bloodline for less than half the price of neurotic, over-coiffed, over-bred, dwarf lap-yapper. Anytime serious hunters are breeding dogs for their own use, take notice, especially if you’ve seen the dogs work and liked what you saw. If a particular crossing has produced excellent pups in the past, all the better. In most cases, the owners of the sire and dam will keep only one or two puppies and will be happy to sell the rest for just enough to cover food and veterinary expenses. It goes without saying, but I suppose I’d better say it anyway: I’m not advocating casual backyard breeding. Furthermore, while I might take a hard look at your setter-pointer, setter-Brittany, or pointerGerman shorthair puppies, I won’t be interested in a Lab-redbone or beagle-springer



May 2013

mix. Crosses between dogs of similar type and function usually work out best. Not to say that a Setter-Lab mix wouldn’t be a very interesting and useful member of the family, a perfect jogging partner that entertains the grandkids and keeps the varmints out of the garden. I just wouldn’t be making hunting plans around her. Dogs, like other mammals, including humans, tend to breed toward an average. That’s why line-breeding is so critical to producing puppies with consistent physical and temperamental traits. This is why a hardcore pointing dog man can look at a string of English pointers and say with confidence, “Those two are Elhew.” A litter of cross-bred pups may vary widely in appearance, some favoring the dam, others favoring the sire. Working styles may be less consistent, as well. A cross between a stylish setter and hard-going Brittany will likely produce puppies with strong pointing instinct. Still, given the genetic diversity, some of those puppies may be stylish lock down pointers, while others creep into a soft point. Both styles can be effective. Are you open-minded enough to adapt to quirks and stylistic imperfections? If you’re a practical sort of waterfowl hunter who values results above style, don’t be too quick to pass up a litter out of Bill’s excellent Lab and Sarah’s fine Chesapeake Bay retriever. Chances are, the price will be right, and you may save on veterinary bills and kennel club registration fees. Chances are, you won’t be skimping on performance.


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community bankers in support of twa

Interested in joining these banks in support of TWA and seeing your logo featured monthly in Texas Wildlife Magazine? Contact TWA Director of Member Relations Kendra Roller at (210) 826-2904 or kroller@texas-wildlife.org. Photo by D. K. Langford


B orderl ands news Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management

Use of Camera Traps to Determine Prey Availability for Mountain Lions in the Davis Mountains Article by Catherine Dennison (Research Assistant), Patricia Moody Harveson (Research Scientist), and Louis A. Harveson (Director) and Photos courtesy of bri


redator-prey relationships are some of the most difficult aspects in wildlife ecology to understand. Questions like... Do predators regulate prey? Are predators selecting for specific prey? How much prey is lost annually? ...and many others require substantial data to draw conclusions. These

questions become increasingly difficult to address when there are multiple predators and prey in the system being studied. Beginning in 2011, we initiated a largescale study on the ecology of mountain lions in the Davis Mountains of Texas. (For more information, please read Mary O. Parker’s story on page 8 of this issue and visit www. sulross.edu/brinrm.) One of our primary objectives was to evaluate the impact of mountain lion predation on prey populations. To truly address predator-prey dynamics there are five types of data that are needed: (1) density estimates of prey populations; (2) density estimates of predator populations; (3) characteristics of available prey, including reactions to predators, and Relative abundance of prey and predator species in the Davis Mountains. their nutritional condi-

Using remote cameras, mountain lions were observed in 20 of 38 camera stations, indicating they used a variety of habitats throughout the Davis Mountains.



May 2013

tion; (4) estimates of density and quality of alternative foods available to the predators; and (5) characteristics of the predator, such as its means of attack and food preference. Our study site was exclusively on private lands in the Davis Mountains and encompassed over 100,000 acres of mountainous terrain. Potential large prey species in our study site included desert mule deer, Carmen Mountain white-tailed deer, elk, aoudad, feral hog, javelina and livestock. Because other studies have shown that up to 33 percent of a mountain lion’s diet may include small and medium sized animals, we also predicted that raccoons, ringtails, skunks (three species), coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and a variety of rodents may be included as prey in our study site. We established 38 grids across our study site and then established one pair of remote cameras in each grid (76 cameras total). Paired cameras were placed facing each other and spaced a short distance off established game trails, saddles, or other areas where prey or predators were most likely to travel within each grid cell. Cameras were checked regularly to download photos. Since Summer 2012, we have recorded over 7,000 trap-nights (10 trap-nights are equivalent to one trap being “open” for 10 nights or 10 cameras being “open” for one night). We have downloaded almost 200,000 photographs. Each photo was (painstakingly) reviewed on the computer to ascertain if a prey or predator species was visible. As with any photography, not all pictures are good. In fact, only 14,607 had animals in them. We reduced the number of photos further to 3,099 by eliminating repeats (successive pictures of the same animal in a short timeframe or photos of the same animal taken by both cameras at the paired station).

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A variety of potential prey species occur in the Davis Mountains including aoudad, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, hogs, and javelina.

As seen from the pie chart below, the feral hog was the most common species documented in the camera traps, followed by elk and coyote. Aoudads were prevalent in the area, but we rarely captured them on camera. We believe this is because aoudads preferred drastically different habitats (steep, rocky terrain) than those in which we set our camera stations. Our data also provides some insights into the distribution of various species. For example, feral hog was the most wide-spread

species occurring in 84 percent of the trap sites. Elk and gray fox had the second highest distribution and were both recorded in 80 percent of trap sites. Coyote, javelina, and mule deer ranked third in distribution where they each occurred in 66 percent of camera stations. Incidentally, our primary prey species, mountain lion, was recorded in 53 percent of the camera stations – suggesting a broad distribution within our study site. Although our project is still ongoing, our

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preliminary data suggest that there is a robust predator-prey ecosystem in the Davis Mountains. Our data demonstrates relative abundance but it does not provide absolute abundance (how many animals are in the study site). Density of species will be ascertained in the near future using common survey techniques like spotlight or helicopter counts. We will also be using a combination of genetic and telemetry data to estimate predator abundance for our study.

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For the Children, For the Future Literacy Isn’t Just About Reading and Writing, Anymore

In addition to its classroom program, Kritters 4 Kids offers a Kritter Kamp, which includes bug hunts, learning about tracks, dissecting owl pellets, building bird houses and other “cool-tokids” activities.

TWA member Bruce Hoffman visited a group of 24 third graders near Corpus Christi and watched as they grew more enthralled with each full-color image – Collared Peccary, Nine-banded Armadillos, Osprey, Crested Caracara, and much more – all of it native Texas wildlife, all of it beautifully photographed. Hoffman, who’s served as president of Coastal Bend Habitat Educational Program (CBHEP) for three years, recounted: “They’d say, ‘Wow! That looks scary! Where’s it from? Africa or something?’ I’d look over, and the child would be looking at a bobcat or coyote that lives right here in the Coastal Bend.” The Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest and the Kritters 4 Kids Program both reside under CBHEP’s non-profit umbrella. At first glance, a photo contest and a children’s educational program might not seem to have much in common, but look again.



May 2013

Photo by Leslie Wittenburg

Photo courtesy of Coastal Bend Habitat Educational Program

by Mary O. Parker

Koy Coffer (center) leads TWA’s L.A.N.D.S. Intensive program. “We want to do more,” she said. “There are schools waiting in line.”

“We use Wildlife in Focus, the book we create from the winning contest images, along with a TEKS-based curriculum for our Kritters 4 Kids Program,” Hoffman explained. TEKS stands for “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills,” and refers to a set of standards mandated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for each subject and grade level. Since Kritters 4 Kids began in 2002, it has delivered TEA’s science TEKS to children in nearly 200 Texas schools. As of February 2013, 20 others wait to participate, but, said Hoffman, “We’re shallow on the funding needed to hire staff to reach more schools.” Ask Hoffman about Kritters 4 Kids, and watch his face light up. He believes in this program, because it exposes kids to the flora and fauna that live in their own environments. “If we can get kids at a young age to look at these photographs, to

learn about the animals that we have right here in Texas, eyeball to eyeball, they might want to take better care of what we have out there,” he said. “Young people just aren’t getting out there, getting outside, doing things where they can understand the circle of life, that animals eat other animals, that some animals eat plants, that plants need sun,” he said. Then, with a grin, added, “You know, the science TEKS!” Hoffman refers to a phenomenon known as “nature-deficit disorder,” a phrase coined by author Richard Louv and now widely used, thanks to Louv’s 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods. Louv’s researchbased best-seller put a name to a problem that had already troubled many: children are spending less and less time in nature, becoming divorced from the natural world, and rarely taking part in unstructured freeplay.

Photo by Gail M. Hoffman

for the children, for the future

TWA member Bruce Hoffman (far right) explained his commitment to Kritters 4 Kids: “When my son was little, we sat together four feet from a pack of javelinas, so close you could hear them breathing. You can’t get that from a textbook. Brent still lives on the ranch today and is raising our grandson there.” (Brent Hoffman (left); Briggs “Tarzan” Hoffman (center)

usually on private land. “We work with the teacher to custom fit the lesson plan. Our whole goal is to enhance what the teacher already has to do,” Coffer said. During visits to private land, children participate in a plethora of activities that might include a plant walk, learning about radio telemetry, learning how quail forage, and journaling about their experiences. Browning recalled watching children’s faces during L.A.N.D.S. visits to their Cedar Mountain Lodge: “The thing that Art and I noticed…was when Koy has a quiet time for them to listen to what they hear. Many of the kids had not heard nature before! The buzz and excitement from all the kids telling Koy what they heard…” Like Kritters 4 Kids, L.A.N.D.S. has placed much of its focus on reaching children in urban areas. “We’ve worked with thousands of urban kids,” explained Coffer. These kids, she explained, are most in need of literacy. But as the term “nature-deficit” implies, these days fewer children from all walks are getting direct experiences in nature. TWA member Paula Smith, who, with her husband, Ernest, hosts L.A.N.D.S. groups on their Rocksprings ranch, said,

themselves perfectly to the sorts of handson lessons geared toward natural resources literacy. “Kids want to get into nature, it’s just that there’s so much else going on now that it’s hard for them to do,” Hoffman said. “But, to understand the natural world, you’ve got to get into it, not just study it. There’s stuff you just can’t get from a textbook,” Hoffman insisted. Cheryl Browning agreed that kids want to get out into nature. She and her husband, Art, never have trouble filling slots in their own summer camp near Scurry. “We created Camp Wildlife in memory of our 8-yearold son, Hunter Mason Browning, who we lost 5 1/2 years ago. Each summer, we hold one-day camps for boys and girls ages 8-16. All of the activities are wildlife and habitat related,” she shared. Since October 2011, the Brownings have also participated in TWA’s Learning Across New Dimensions in Science, more TWA members Paula and Ernest Smith (center) hosted a L.A.N.D.S. educator workshop at their Rocksprings ranch. Paula Smith said, “About 15-20 teachers came commonly known as the and spent the weekend. What was interesting was that the so many of the teachers, themselves, had so little exposure to the flora and fauna here.” L.A.N.D.S. Program. Like Kritters 4 Kids, L.A.N.D.S. focuses on natural resource literacy. Koy “Many of the kids we had here live in Coffer, the TWA professional staff member Brackettville, which is only about 23 miles who directs the L.A.N.D.S. Intensive away, but many of them had never been to program, explained that it’s designed so the country, never had anyone talk to them that learning begins in the classroom with about flora or fauna, even the flora or fauna culminating lessons occurring in the field, of this region.” Photo by Koy Coffer

In Texas, Louv’s book and other factors sparked momentum for what would, by 2009, become The Texas Partnership for Children in Nature. With TWA and TPWD at the forefront, the non-partisan coalition, comprised of 81 representatives from various fields, took a hard look at how we could reverse those trends. By fall 2010, the coalition released its State Strategic Plan, which included recommendations from six teams, with each team setting forth specific goals and objectives. In the plan, the Education Team set as its mission to: (1) provide opportunities for every Texas child and family to engage with nature; and (2) increase understanding of Texas natural resources. Another way to phrase #2 would be to increase natural resource literacy across the state. Ultimately, the goals set forth by the Education Team resulted in the Natural Resource/ Environmental Literacy Plan, which was unveiled on January 25, 2013, at a one-day Natural Resources Literacy Summit in San Antonio. Typically, we think of “literacy” as the ability to read and write, but, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, a literate person could refer to one who is well-educated, or one who shows extensive knowledge. It follows then, that a person in Texas who is “natural resource literate” would possess knowledge of Texas’ major natural resources and the knowledge, skills, and ability to analyze the issues – social and environmental – relating to them. Many of TEA’s current TEK’s lend




L.A.N.D.S. strives to get to the heart of “literacy” by making natural science relevant to students’ lives. The Trinity L.A.N.D.S. Program provides a powerful example. The program, a joint effort by TWA, Trinity Waters, TPWD, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, allows students to get real-world experience as they measure, analyze, filter, and test water and evaluate impacts of use and stewardship practices upon the watershed. The take-home message speaks louder than any textbook ever could, and kids learn first-hand the importance of water in Texas and the role each individual plays in its quality and quantity. Coffer stressed, “But we couldn’t do any of it without private landowners, volunteers and community outreach.” L.A.N.D.S., Kritters 4 Kids, and other like-minded groups – some formed by communities and homeowners’ associations – across the state all have the same goal: to reverse the “nature-deficit” trend and improve natural resource literacy. TPWD, which has played an important leadership role throughout the children-innature movement, recently made another contribution when it hired a part-time Texas Children in Nature coordinator. “It’s not a process of advancing any one agenda,” insisted Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD and a member of TWA. “It’s about building science-based knowledge and experiences to help people make informed choices. With the longterm challenges our state faces, such as how to provide water for people and the environment, we can’t afford an illiterate citizenry when it comes to our natural resources.” When The Partnership for Texas Children in Nature held its Natural Resources Literacy Summit to unveil the Natural Resource/Environmental Literacy Plan on January 25, 2013, former First Lady Laura Bush, gave the keynote speech. Two years ago, Mrs. Bush formed the conservationminded non-profit, Taking Care of Texas, which counts former TWA President Tina Y. Buford, former TWA Vice President Dr. Neal Wilkins, TWA Director Katharine Armstrong, TWA Director Mark Bivins, and former TWA professional staff member



May 2013

Photo by Koy Coffer

for the children, for the future

“It gives us great pleasure to share this place. Especially with children who have limited access to nature. We have four endangered species – two plants and two birds. I think it’s important for kids to learn to protect our endangered species,” said TWA member Paula Smith, shown here with children journaling about what they’ve learned during a L.AN.D.S. visit.

Photo courtesy of Coastal Bend Habitat Educational Program


Since Kritters 4 Kids began in 2002, it has delivered TEA’s science TEKS to children in nearly 200 schools. As of February 2013, 20 others wait to participate, but funding is needed to hire additional staff.

Tamara Trail (who played a key role in getting The Partnership for Texas Children in Nature off the ground), among its board members. Those who’d ever made a simple, but profound, discovery in the outdoors as a child understood Mrs. Bush when she shared how formative and instrumental her girlhood moments of free-play in nature were and how vital it is that children continue experiencing such moments. And, when Mrs. Bush said, “Nature and the natural world are like a foreign language to many of today’s kids in Texas and around

the nation,” Hoffman’s anecdote seemed especially telling. But, as TWA members Paula and Ernest Smith discovered when they hosted a group of educators for a L.A.N.D.S. workshop at their Rocksprings ranch, today even fewer adults seem to speak the language of nature. Paula Smith said, “What was interesting was that the teachers, themselves, had so little exposure. One young teacher was entranced with a cactus. She’d never seen one before up close and asked if she could take it home.”

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The Pig Explosion How a species went from obscure to a nuisance in a quarter century

Article and Photos by russell a. graves Pulling through the gate of Mills isn’t alone in his frustrations. Land- with them and spread the livestock spehis northeast Texas ranch, Garry Mills in- owners and agriculturists across Texas are cies throughout North America. Over the stinctively knew what his eyes were about continually affected by the once domesti- past 500 years, pigs were generally domesto tell him. Just a couple of weeks prior to cated strain of pigs. ticated. In some cases, however, a few pigs our visit, hundreds of native pecan trees on The ubiquitous wild pig is now a staple escaped or were turned loose and eventuhis place yielded a bumper crop of nuts this across the Lone Star landscape. Domes- ally reverted back to their wild ways – thus year and littered the ground with the brown ticated pigs were introduced to the North giving us the ancestors of the wild pigs we and black nuggets. have today. Most years, the trees yield a Over the past three decades, limited harvest – just enough the population reached a critical for his family to pick a few and mass, and everywhere pigs can share the rest with close friends. live, pigs probably exist. This year, however, the trees be“There are but two kinds of came heavy with nuts and with landowners in Texas: Those with a complimentary price spike, he wild pigs and those that are about thought he could make a little to have wild pigs,” says Dr. Billy extra money with the harvest. Higginbotham, Professor and Mills planned to pick the bounty Extension Wildlife and Fisheries with the help of contract labor Specialist for the Texas AgriLife using pecan harvesting equipExtension Service in Overton. ment. Dr. Higginbotham is on the front Before the mechanical pickers line in the war on feral pigs and could arrive, pickers of a differthe damage they cause by reent sort beat him to the punch. searching control methods and Over the course of two nights, a ways to mitigate hog populations pack of wild pigs in untold numand the damage they inherently bers swept through his small cause. His assessment on the patch of ground and ate nearly landowners and the hog populaevery pecan they could find. tion, while simplistic, provides “The pigs really wiped me information on the breeding sucout,” he says with a bit of expectcess of a species whose numbers ed trepidation. “I had expected continue to explode. to make a bit of money off these Historically, wild pigs were relpecans, but the hogs beat me to egated to the rural areas of Texas. them.” The prolific porcine, however, Wild pigs root up lawns and damage recreational areas, while the wallows they leave behind provide a medium for standing water. Mills says that it’s not the first has continually expanded its time pigs have damaged his range and now encroach inside crops or ranch infrastructure. In fact, he American continent by Hernando de Soto city limits of small towns across the state as, says that the pigs are an ongoing problem. during a period of expansive Spanish colo- well as suburbia. “I am constantly dealing with some kind nialism and conquests in the 1500s. When “Pigs are a constant concern for us,” says of damage that the pigs leave behind,” he the Spanish arrived, the pig was already do- Ryan Mills, who works for the municipal says referring to broken fences, busted up mesticated by Europeans and was brought golf course in Childress, Texas. “We are hay equipment, and rooted wheat fields the continent as a food source for the new always finding areas where they’ve rooted. where he grazes stocker cattle in the winter. inhabitants. They are attracted by the water we irrigate “While I can’t put a number on it, I know As the area that became the United with and cause us a continual maintenance they are costing me money.” States was colonized, settlers brought pigs issue.”



May 2013

Supplemental feeding (usually aimed at feeding and attracting deer) benefits wild pigs.

“The funny thing is we never see them,” he admits. “They come out and do their damage at night.” Wild pigs root up lawns and damage recreational areas, while the wallows they leave behind provide a medium for standing water. The water can create breeding pools for mosquitoes, thus increasing the risk for mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus. An increase in West Nile is noteworthy, since Texas suffered 43 fatalities in 2012, as a result of the disease. While pigs are difficult to count, best estimates place the statewide population at 2.6 million animals -- that’s about a third of the total U.S. wild pig population and about twice the number of domestic pigs found in Texas. Over the past three decades, wild pigs have slowly spread their range across Texas and now occupy nearly two-thirds of the state, with the western Panhandle and far West Texas being the only places where hogs haven’t spread to yet. “Several reasons converged to create the ‘perfect storm’ resulting in the population boom,” says Dr. Higginbotham. “Indiscriminate stocking to new habitats by

landowners and hunters facilitated rapid increase. This was done regularly, despite being illegal, in the 1970s through the 1990s.” He says that the stockings were very successful in establishing populations across the state. Dr. Higginbotham also points out that supplemental feeding (usually aimed at feeding and attracting deer) benefits wild pigs. The higher level of nutrition promotes larger litter sizes and piglet survivability at birth. Since the species is the most reproductively prolific large mammal on earth, favorable environmental and nutritional conditions promote their reproductive efficiency -- and the population soars. “Population increases are not just a Texas phenomenon,” Dr. Higginbotham advises. “For various reasons, populations have expanded in many states, and now some 48 states have established wild pig populations.” The increase in numbers has also created an increase in pig and people encounters. While the pig’s aggressiveness is generally overhyped on network television, the real danger of pigs comes in other ways.

A helicopter with a shotgunner is an efficient means of putting a small dent in a hog population that is problematic.



the pig expl o si o n

With few natural enemies and a reproductive explosiveness that is unprecedented in large mammals, pigs are made to multiply.

Wild hogs incessantly root in search of food.

make a quick trip between the San Antonio and Austin areas. According to Bloomberg.com, pigs versus vehicle collisions begin to occur even before the highway opened. Pig collisions aren’t uncommon; but, when they occur at the posted 85 mph speed limits, the encounters will be undoubtedly devastating. Insurance industry estimates Some estimates place the total damage caused by pigs at $200 place the total damage per pig/ per pig per year. auto collision at $1,200. As the pig In 2004, the Texas AgriLife Extension population expands across the state, anecService conducted a survey that placed the dotally, the number of collisions is bound annual pig damage to Texas countryside to be on the rise, thus resulting in more at $52 million, with an additional $7 mil- money out of the pockets of consumers. To combat the growing pig problem, lion spent to control the animals or correct the damage. Some estimates place the total state agencies are implementing programs damage caused by pigs at $200 per pig per to help counties organize and battle the year. The damage is defined primarily as ag- invasive species. The United States Department of Agriculture, along with Texas ricultural damages. While numbers are sketchy, potentially Parks and Wildlife Department, is working the most devastating damages come from on a poisoning program that will only tarwhen cars collide with hogs. East of Austin, get wild pigs. In 2010, the Texas Department of AgState Highway 130, or the “Pickle Parkway,” is a newly- opened road that’s touted as the riculture (TDA) launched the Hog Out fastest highway in the United States. With a County Grants program. The program is speed limit of 85 mph in some sections, the designed to encourage counties to “make tollway is designed so that motorists can a concentrated and coordinated effort to



May 2013

reduce the feral hog population and damage caused by these animals…” According to the TDA, counties compete for funding to further their hog eradication efforts and are scored on various metrics, including the number of hogs killed and the number of county residents participating. The Hog Out occurs each year from October through December; and, in 2012, 15 counties participated, and 7,157 pigs were eliminated. Over the course of the program, the challenge has removed 27,934 pigs, with an estimated savings of more than $4 million to Texas landowners. The Hog Out program is just part of the solution for controlling wild pigs, and hunters like Brian Strickland of Colorado Springs, Colorado, are eager to do their part. Brian, who is originally from Texas and has family property in East Texas, comes to the Lone Star State each year to kill pigs. “I know I am just making a dent, but I still feel like I am doing my part,” says Strickland on a recent hunt near Childress. During the hunt, Strickland harvests a pig with a bow. While the pig is maybe 130 pounds in size, it is a sow, and with her out of the herd, the local population is set back at least for a bit.

the pig expl o si o n

“She had four babies following her when I shot her,” Strickland says. They were about half grown, so I’m sure they’ll make it to adulthood.” Chances are that the sow (who was maybe a couple of years old) had already had a dozen or more babies spread out over two or three litters and, according to research, probably spent her entire life within her home range of 1,000 acres or so. With few natural enemies and a reproductive explosiveness that is unprecedented in large mammals, pigs are made to multiply. A female wild pig reaches sexual maturity at 6-8 months old and typically has 1 1/2 litters per year that average between five and six pigs per litter. Therefore, their capacity for populating an area is tremendous. In fact, biologists estimate that just to keep their numbers in check, two-thirds of the pigs in Texas should be thinned annually. That’s a total of 1.7 million pigs harvested annually just to keep populations stagnant. It’s a tall order. Luke Boedecker says that he was often hired to pilot his Robinson helicopter and fly the badlands of northwest Texas to eradicate pigs from ranchers who reserved his services. “From the ground, you can see where

From the air, the damage wild pigs cause to rangelands is apparent.

the hogs root,” explains Boedeker, as he checks the integrated GPS unit in helicopter to make sure that we’re within the ranch boundaries. “But once you get in the air, you can actually see how much area they actually tear up.” On a warm February day, I joined Luke in an attempt to eliminate some pigs on an expansive ranch northeast of Lubbock. Boedeker is licensed to perform animal damage management, and in the big country of northwest Texas, a helicopter with a shot-

gunner is an efficient means of putting a small dent in a hog population that is problematic. “Control is the key word,” he tells me. “We can’t eradicate them, because they breed too fast. This is the third time in the past couple of years that I’ve flown this ranch; and, by the number of pigs I see each time I come here, you wouldn’t know that we’ve done anything. All we can do is hope to control them to the point that we can slow down the damage they cause.”

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arthur temple college of forestry and agriculture

SFA news

stephen f. austin state university

Saline Lakes of the Texas High Plains – The Other Wetland Type in the Playa Lakes Region Article and Photos by

Warren C. Conway, Ph.D., Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University


ny student of waterfowl, sandhill crane, and even ring-necked pheasant or Northern bobwhite ecology, biology, and hunting in the Texas High Plains is familiar with what are known as playas. Relatively small, hydrologically unpredictable, precipitation filled, shallow, circular depressional wetlands, playas number more than 20,000 regionally and are arguably the most important habitats for maintenance of regional biodiversity in a landscape dominated by row-crop agriculture. When wet, they are critically important ecologically and can also provide fantastic waterfowl hunting opportunities, rivaling any duck hunting destination in Texas. Playas have been a focus of research, management, and conservation efforts for decades, where private landowner efforts are key to their man-

agement, as nearly all regional freshwater playas are located on private property. Although many challenges exist for playa conservation and management, both professional biologists and private landowners have begun to appreciate their value as wetland wildlife habitat on the Texas High Plains. However, there is another dominant wetland type in the region. Few people realize saline lakes even exist, and fewer, yet, appreciate their regional historical and biological importance. Saline lakes (sometimes referred to as salinas) are quite different geologically, morphologically, and hydrologically than freshwater playas. Larger, with harsher environments, and less numerically abundant (only about 40 exist regionally), saline lakes have received only a fraction

A saline lake bottom, with the only water present a result of freshwater spring seeping onto the lake bottom surface.

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of the attention playas have enjoyed during the last 30-40 years. Due to their inhospitable environments, saline lakes possess a fraction of the floral diversity of playas; but, when wet, they serve as large congregational roosts for wintering sandhill cranes, some wintering and migrating waterfowl, breeding shorebirds, and a diverse assemblage of migrating shorebirds. Geologically older than freshwater playas, saline lakes are typically situated on areas of salt dissolution, which perpetuates hypersaline environments when surface water is present. Saline lakes are discharge wetlands, directly connected to the Ogallala Aquifer, with evidence of bird and mammal bones dating to paleontological eras. Many saline lakes also have evidence of human occupation dating back 10-12,000 years. Ogallala Aquifer connectivity to saline lake bottoms provided a permanent and reliable source of freshwater (via artesian springs) to saline lake flora and fauna, livestock, and nomadic indigenous Americans – a fact not lost upon indigenous scouts who purposefully led early Spanish explorers away from these reliable sources of freshwater. Although counterintuitive, the freshwater artesian springs and areas surrounding those springs are critical to saline lake natural history, but springs located within most saline lakes have ceased (or have dramatically reduced) flowing during the last 50 years. Currently, these lakes receive most surface water via direct precipitation and from overland flow, which tends to evaporate very quickly, leaving salt and calcium carbonate residue behind. Conser-

Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University and Rumsey Research and Development Fund

May 2013

vation concerns surrounding saline lakes are multifaceted, but cessation of artesian spring flow causing a reduction in surface water residence time and an increase in salt concentrations are arguably the most pressing. Research conducted through collaborations with students and partners at the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Tech University, Museum of Texas Tech University, U.S. Geological Survey, Kansas State University, Lee College, Arizona State University, and the Rumsey Research and Development Fund during the last 15 years has shed more light and focused conservation attention to these systems. For example, a recent saline lake flora survey identified 49 vascular plant species – a little more than 10 percent of the number recorded in freshwater playas – with only 19 species in common between the two wetland types. Most of these plants were found in associa-

Sandhill cranes have used saline lakes for thousands of years during winter as communal roosts.

A snowy plover nest nestled in dry gravel area along the perimeter of a saline lake.

than 30 percent in nest success. In 1999, we estimated that 2.1 hatchlings per adult per year were required to maintain population sizes during that time. However, in 2008 and 2009, we estimated that 6-10 hatchlings per adult per year were needed to simply maintain current population size at that A female snowy plover pausing while foraging in mudflats associated with freshwater springs in a saline lake. time, not recover populations to the late 1990s estimates. This is a three to five-fold increase in retion with artesian springs. Interestingly, the only species common quired production. Given that snowy plovers only produce three to all saline lakes surveyed was the exotic invasive saltcedar. How- eggs per clutch and may renest, if one nest fails – this production ever, at the center of long-term research has been the snowy plover, requirement seems unattainable. The fate of regional snowy plover a regionally uncommon and regionally obligate saline lake-nesting populations is clearly dependent upon restoration of spring flows shorebird, in which dramatic declines in nesting success and popu- in these systems. lation size have been recorded. Freshwater availability and use – whether for wildlife, drinkOver the course of two studies, more than 400 nests have been ing, or irrigation – has become a prominent conservation issue monitored, but their occurrence and success is dependent upon throughout Texas and is certainly on the minds of folks in the surface water during the breeding season – clearly linked to func- High Plains, as the Ogallala Aquifer has been the center of wationality of the artesian springs mentioned above. Between the late ter use conservation concerns for decades. Much of the focus has 1990s and late 2000s, we estimated declines of more than 75 per- been on reducing quantities used and improving efficiency. Howcent in abundance in some lakes and an overall decline of more ever, declines in the Ogallala have resulted in more expensive ir-



sali n e lakes o f the texas high plai n s

rigation practices and directly impacted the suitability of these saline lakes as nesting snowy plover habitat. Clearly, surface water presence (and residence time) operates as a driver of biological community attributes in saline lakes. However, some evidence suggests that groundwater elevation in saline lakes is at least 20-25 feet lower than 25,000-55,000 years ago. Given that nearly all regional saline lakes have been impacted by declines in the water table and by saltcedar invasion, efforts to conserve and understand these unique Texas ecosystems will continue to focus upon snowy plover ecology and biology, but also upon water conservation practices and removal of this exotic invasive phreatophyte by private landowners and public land managers.

For more information or questions, please contact Dr. Warren Conway, Professor of Wildlife Management, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Stephen F. Austin State University (wconway@sfasu.edu). A recently-hatched snowy plover chick hiding among plant and insect casing debris along the shoreline of a saline lake.



May 2013


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ICF –Your Images, Their Future

Saving W ildlife One Image at a Time

I C F S n a pshot of th e month

by Mack Hicks Photographer Mack Hicks captured this award-winning image of a Ground Squirrel at Dos Venadas ranch owned by TWA member Steve Bentsen during an ICF Pro Am Tour of Nature Photography competition. TWA is 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. Images for Conservation Fund is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created in 2003 for the purpose of conserving wildlife habitat and generating a sustainable income stream within rural economies through the establishment and prosperity of the Private Lands' Nature-Photography Industry (PLNPI). Images for Conservation encourages private landowners to restore, preserve, conserve, and enhance wildlife habitat through the business of nature photography. ICF has established and will continue creating a strong Private Lands Nature Photography Industry (PLNPI) that provides economic incentives for private landowners to conserve and enhance wildlife habitat. ICF does this primarily through its photography tournaments. It also engages in community outreach and education efforts and help landowners with marketing and land preparation support. For more information on ICF, visit www. imagesforconservation.org.



May 2013




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