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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-11-27                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than two years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Nov. 27, 2012
Black bear activity on the upswing in the Hill Country and South Texas
AUSTIN -- Black bear activity in the Hill Country and South Texas along the Rio Grande from Del Rio to below Laredo is increasing, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists.
Though historically it has been very rare for bears to be sighted south or east of Val Verde County, so far in 2012 there have been a dozen such sightings.
"This is likely a result of a growing number of bears in Mexico dispersing and searching for food after severe droughts and wildfires," says TPWD biologist Jonah Evans of Alpine, the department's bear coordinator. "Whether these sightings signify a permanent recolonization of Central and South Texas remains to be seen."
While black bears are native to all of Texas, in the early 1900's, heavy hunting and trapping completely eliminated them from the state. Currently, the only established breeding populations are in the Big Bend area of West Texas.
"Black bears are generally not a risk to humans," Evans says. "But they can become a nuisance if they gain a taste for human food, pet food, or trash. We've recently received several reports of bears tipping over and damaging deer feeders and a few raiding trash cans along the border."
Evans says the department's goal is for people and bears to coexist peacefully.
"By eliminating food rewards, we eliminate most of the problems," he says. "Many communities in bear country have effectively adapted to live with bears, but it takes everyone working together and doing their part."
The most effective strategy is for residents along the border to secure their trash, bird feeders, and pet food, so bears don't become habituated to easy meals, Evans notes.
"This cannot be overstated," he continues. "The saying 'A fed bear is a dead bear' is absolutely true. If a bear becomes habituated and food-conditioned, there is little we can do to save it. It will likely have to be destroyed."
TPWD is asking for people to report all bear sightings. If a bear is causing a nuisance, TPWD will work with residents to secure attractants and may attempt to haze the bear. In extreme situations, the bear may be relocated. Biologists are also available to give talks and educational programs on living with bears. Since black bears are a threatened species in Texas, they cannot be legally hunted or harmed.
If you see a bear, please report it to Jonah Evans at (432) 837-2051 x228.
Bear activity reported so far this year includes:
--Maverick County -- Jan. 26 -- Sighting
--Starr County -- July 30 -- Relocated
--Kimble County -- Aug. 6 -- Sighting
--Menard County -- Aug. 8 -- Sighting
--Schleicher County -- Aug. 8 -- Sighting
--Sutton County Aug. 12 -- Sighting
--Webb County -- Aug. 27 -- Killed on road by vehicle
--Uvalde County Aug. 31 -- Sighting
--Kinney County Sept. 25 -- Sighting
--Maverick County -- Oct. 14 -- Relocated
--Val Verde County -- Nov. 3 -- Sighting
--Edwards County -- Nov. 5 -- Sighting
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[ Note: This item is more than two years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
Nov. 27, 2012
The Trout Are Here! The Trout Are Here!
Annual stocking of rainbow trout has begun
ATHENS--Ponds and streams at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center received their first stocking of rainbow trout on Tuesday.
About 1,100 rainbows were stocked in total. Most were put into the TFFC casting pond and the pond next to the Conservation Center, but other streams and ponds received fish as well. Trout were also placed in the Hill Country Stream exhibit in the Visitor Center for viewing only.
From now through March, TPWD will stock upwards of 250,000 hatchery-reared rainbow trout at more than 100 sites across the state. TPWD has been stocking rainbow trout in small urban lakes, state park lakes and popular river tailraces each winter since the 1970s, providing Texans a simple and economical opportunity to go fishing.
Catching these hungry fish can be easy, making the experience ideal for both novice anglers and kids. The fish will bite almost immediately after stocking and typically will take a variety of baits, from whole kernel canned corn or commercial soft bait to artificial flies and even small spinnerbaits.
For more information about the winter trout fishing program, including tips and the 2012-2013 trout stocking schedule listed by city or county, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/management/stocking/trout_stocking.phtml.
A video of trout being stocked into the ponds at TFFC can be viewed on Facebook.
---
On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/management/stocking/trout_stocking.phtml
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Freshwater-Fisheries-Center/128462433868391
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[ Note: This item is more than two years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Nov. 27, 2012
Illegal gill netting increasing along lower coast
AUSTIN -- With more than a month left in 2012, state game wardens already are looking at a record number of seizures of illegal gill nets and long lines in Texas and U.S. waters along the lower coast.
On Nov. 20, the U.S. Coast Guard notified the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that following a three-mile pursuit by one of its boats, coast guardsmen had apprehended a commercial fishing vessel from Mexico in Texas waters. At the South Padre Island Coast Guard station, game warden Sgt. James Dunks removed an illegal gill net from the seized Mexican "launcha" and found some 180 sharks entangled in it.
The captain of the seized vessel, a Mexican national, was taken before a South Padre Island justice of the peace and charged with possession of an illegal fishing device and operating an unregistered vessel. The other person on the boat, a 16-year-old male, was released to the U.S. Border Patrol.
On Nov. 7, the TPWD patrol vessel Captain Williams discovered a three-mile-long gill net about 6 miles north of Brazos Santiago Pass and 7 miles offshore.
Dropping 30 feet deep, the net contained 17 greater hammerhead sharks, 13 unidentified sharks (because of their advanced decomposition), 8 black drum, 6 tripletail, 1 large red drum, and several hundred triggerfish. Game wardens confiscated the net and released all live fish entangled in the net.
So far this year, game wardens working aboard the Captain Williams operating along the lower Texas coast have seized 138,080 feet of long line; 53,840 feet of gill net; more than 6,000 sharks, 300 red snapper, 211 red or black drum; 21 gag grouper and 2 sailfish.
All of the illegal fishing devices are believed to have been set in Texas or federal waters by commercial fishermen operating out of Mexico, particularly from the village of La Playa Bagdad, which lies about nine miles south of the Rio Grande.
"Illegal gill netting has an adverse impact on shark species and also traps a wide variety of Texas game fish," says Special Operations Chief Grahame Jones of the TPWD Law Enforcement Division.
Sharks, the most common target of these vessels, are harvested not only for their meat, but also for their fins. Shark fins, used for soup, are considered some of the world's most expensive seafood and its high demand supports a world-wide black market.
In another recent trend, the U.S. Coast Guard recently found illegal long lines with hooked live brown pelicans being used as floats.
"They sometimes use live pelicans in an attempt to hide the lines, since they know we are looking for more traditional floatation devices," explains Sgt. Dunks, who pilots the Captain Williams.
Dunks says that arrests in gill netting or long line cases are rare. When the commercial fishermen are caught in the act, the only charges that can be filed are misdemeanors punishable by fines. However, the illegal fishing equipment and vessel can be seized.
Marine interests spotting gill nets or long lines in Texas waters are urged to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-792GAME (4263), contact a game warden or notify the U.S. Coast Guard.
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