|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-01-20                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Jan. 20, 2004
South Texas Leads Way for Banner Hunting Season
AUSTIN, Texas -- When the hunting is good in South Texas, few places in the nation can compare and hunting has been excellent this season, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists.
As the 2003-04 seasons wind down, state officials are already making comparisons to the 1997-98 banner season. Ideal weather conditions throughout the past year set the stage for a boom year for white-tailed deer and quail and hunters were not disappointed.
TPWD quail program leader Robert Perez had noted going into the hunting season textbook-perfect conditions for quail reproduction throughout South Texas and above-average conditions across the Rolling Plains. "These kinds of conditions and alignments don't happen often, maybe once every 5-7 years in South Texas, but it happened this year," he said.
The results of those favorable range conditions? "Incredible would be a fair assessment," beamed TPWD biologist Macy Ledbetter at the James Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area. "Quail hunters are still encountering up to 42 coveys of bobwhites per day of hunting, although the averages are more like 10-12 coveys per hunt with as many as a dozen birds per covey not uncommon."
TPWD Biologist Alan Cain added that the quail hunting in Karnes County "is probably one of the best this area has seen in 20 years. Several ranches are busting 15-25 coveys a day."
The same ideal habitat conditions benefited deer as well, according to TPWD Big Game Program Director Clayton Wolf, who noted that timely spring 2003 rains resulted in range conditions that helped jump-start antler development in most areas of the state.
Just how good has the deer season been? In South Texas and much of the Edwards Plateau, awesome might be an understatement. "Body weights began the season off the charts," said Ledbetter. "We had mature bucks dressing out at 200-225 pounds and 170-class (Boone and Crockett score) deer are fairly common. Many mature bucks were carried over from last year and this year's harvest has many ultra-old bucks present."
Wolf said that while veteran South Texas hunters are already drawing comparisons to the '97 boom season and other regions saw some quality deer harvested, the overall statewide harvest may be off some. "We got off to a slow start and a good portion of the harvest usually occurs during those first two weeks of the season," he said. "It's tough to make up what you missed on opening weekend, but I think hunters did alright. But, it did turn out to be near perfect for South Texas."
The brush country may be getting all the attention for producing so many quality whitetails this season, but the biggest buck in Texas happened to be the state record non-typical mule deer taken in Reeves County. The huge mule deer boasted 29 measurable points and a gross Boone and Crockett score of 288 6/8 points. The new state record could rank among the world's top 40 all-time.
Although deer hunting in East Texas got off to a relatively slow start due to moderate temperatures, TPWD's Northeast Texas Project Leader Kevin Herriman gives the overall season a thumbs up. "No really nice antlered deer have been harvested, but hunters did report observing some nice bucks during our later hunts on several of our wildlife management areas."
Post Oak Savannah District Leader David Sierra would agree, but added that harvest increased as the season progressed, with some mature bucks showing up later in the year.
While deer and quail made the biggest splash of the 2003-04 hunting season, waterfowl barely made a ripple in some areas of the state, according to TPWD Waterfowl Program Leader Dave Morrison.
Panhandle duck hunters did not get a repeat performance of last year's outstanding season, since less than 10 percent of the playas had water compared to more than 30 percent last year. "Hunters that found water had a fairly good season," said Morrison.
In East Texas, few areas received enough fall rains to even hold ducks, although the region saw a typical November migration of birds that provided some hunting opportunity during the first split of the season.
"We had a fairly normal migration through Thanksgiving and temperatures remained normal, but then it started becoming more moderate and we didn't get a push of reinforcements," said Morrison. "The greenwings didn't start showing up until Christmas, so we were behind on migration."
Morrison noted that birds along the coast appear to be dispersed throughout the marshes and have become pretty wary of hunting pressure, making conditions tough for hunters toward the end of the season.
But as any hunter will tell you, there's always next year.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Jan. 20, 2004
Scientists Discover New Species of Fish
AUSTIN, Texas -- Two scientists have reported the discovery of America's newest vertebrate species. The species, a fish, is described in the current issue of the prestigious, quarterly international journal Copeia, the official publication of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
The San Felipe gambusia (Gambusia clarkhubbsi), was discovered and described by Gary P. Garrett, Ph.D., of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Robert J. Edwards, Ph.D., of the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, in their article titled, "New species of Gambusia (Cyprinodontiformes: Poeciliidae) from Del Rio, Texas."
Scientists say the discovery of the fish is likely linked to an innovative plan by the City of Del Rio and a local country club golf course to improve and protect aquatic habitat along San Felipe Creek in Del Rio. They believe that as enhanced vegetation and more environmentally friendly approaches to creekside land management have been introduced, aquatic habitat has improved, causing native fish populations to rebound and become more widespread and visible.
New descriptions of vertebrates, especially within the U.S., are very rare. The new species joins the 30 other species of Gambusia which have a mostly subtropical distribution, including nine species which have been known to inhabit Texas waters. The recent find of a new species is remarkable since the state and the type locality, in San Felipe Creek, have been relatively well-sampled by scientists.
The last new fish species discovery in the state happened more than 30 years ago, when a species in the same genus was found to inhabit the San Marcos River in Central Texas. While that species is now extinct, the new species in Del Rio is abundant and is doing well, although this is the only place in the world were they are known to live.
The new species belongs to a group of fishes called mosquitofish, named because they consume vast quantities of mosquito larvae and are instrumental in the control of mosquito-borne disease vectors. They have been introduced world-wide as mosquito control agents. The adults of this new species are typically one inch long and female adults are about an inch-and-a-half long.
The species was named in honor of Clark Hubbs, an emeritus-Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, not only for his long-standing interest in this group of fish but also for his long involvement in the conservation of rare Texas fish.
The San Felipe Springs which feed the creek, inside the city of Del Rio, are the third largest springs in Texas, and the new species is a characteristic type of fish that depends upon spring water sources.
The discovery is thought to be related to two recent events. It is believed that the species was once restricted to very limited habitats until the city of Del Rio and the local golf course initiated proactive changes in land use operations around the San Felipe headsprings and creek in 1997. Also, a major flood in 1998 scoured the stream. These two factors in combination apparently removed impediments to the abundance of the species, leading to its discovery.
Garrett and Edwards have long histories of involvement in fish conservation in Texas and the Southwest. Edwards is currently the Team Leader of the U.S. Department of the Interior's San Marcos and Comal River and Associated Ecosystems Recovery Team, the Team Leader of the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Recovery Team, and a member of the Rio Grande Fishes Recovery Team. Garrett is also a member of each of these teams and is one of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's major research scientists. Endangered species recovery teams are legislative-mandated groups of biologists which have the responsibility of providing the U.S. government with guidance about how to best conserve endangered species and the ecosystems on which they depend.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Jan. 20, 2004
Texas State Parks Welcoming Adventure Racers
AUSTIN, Texas -- In the coming months, a handful of Texas state parks will host a fledgling sporting event -- Adventure Racing -- that offers a physical challenge, lessons in teamwork and yet one more excuse to enjoy the great outdoors.
This close cousin to the triathlon, a popular swimming-biking-running event popularized by Hawaii's Ironman, marries a myriad of skills such as mountain biking, paddling, climbing, hiking and map-reading (orienteering). Two, three and four-person teams, many of them coed, participate in outdoor competitions that last from 2-48 hours.
During the next seven months, state parks from the verdant Pineywoods of East Texas to rugged canyonlands of the Texas Panhandle will welcome this burgeoning breed of athlete looking for both adventure and the thrill of competition amid some of the most scenic terrain in Texas. Park managers and event organizers have come to appreciate the symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone involved.
Bill Smart, who manages Tyler State Park where events have been staged the past two years, views the adventure races as both an opportunity to expand the park's customer base and a way to generate additional revenue. Recent events, he said, have earned the state park more than $1,000 per event and as well as public relations points. He expects this year's event to draw more than 100 competitors and supporters.
"The races bring in a totally different kind of customer who begins to understand what kind of things they can do in a state park," Smart said. "And they pay camping and entry fees that help us operate our facilities. We also get Internet exposure and local media attention. It's all good."
Rodney Skyles runs SteelSports.net, LLC, which organizes and stages the adventure racing events. The former Fort Worth seminary student, himself an adventure racer, and has found states parks to be ideal sites for the events due to their excellent trails and water access, as well as providing necessary facilities, such as restrooms and campgrounds that make race logistics so much easier.
"It's cool to use state parks because all around Texas you have these natural gems," Skyles said. "They're all different with trail systems offering varying degrees of difficulty, access to cool rivers and lakes and clean facilities."
Individuals pay about $100 to participate in one of the Texas & Southwestern Adventure Race Championship Series events. The fee covers race entry, t-shirts, post-race meal, maps and other race materials, as well as park entrance and camping fees.
Typically, Skyles explained, race participants and their supporters show up at the park on a Friday evening, set up camp and await the starting gun the next morning. Participants never know exactly what time the race will start and in what order the events will be staged. Winning teams accumulate points for the race series, with the top three winning prize packages at the end of the season.
The first state park on this year's race schedule hosting an adventure race will be on Feb. 28 at Martin Dies, Jr. State Park near Jasper. A 50-team limit has been established for the event that will feature mountain biking, paddling, trekking and orienteering over a distance of approximately 30-40 miles. A 24-foot climbing wall has been added to the competition mix as well.
Other state parks serving as race event sites are: Caprock Canyons in Quitaque (March 27), Tyler (April 24), Lake Mineral Wells (July 17) and Cooper Lake/South Sulphur Unit near Sulphur Springs (Aug. 21).
For registration forms and information on the adventure racing series, call SteelSports toll free at (866) 447-1426 or access the Web site (http://www.steelsports.net). For additional information about Texas State Parks, call (800) 792-1112.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 20, 2004
TPWD Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Paying the Price -- An Ector County Game Warden concluded an investigation started in August of 2003. The investigation involved an individual who videotaped himself killing a mallard duck and shooting at mourning doves, mockingbirds and killdeers at the Odessa Country Club at Mission Dorado. He then posted the video on the Internet. The individual was filed on for hunting without landowner consent and hunting from a motor vehicle on a public road, both Class A misdemeanors. The subject pleaded nolo contendere to the offenses and was assessed fines of $1,500 plus court costs, 10 days in the Midland County Jail, 80 hours of community service to be determined by TPWD, and two years hunting license suspension. The case was prosecuted by the Midland County District Attorney's office.
'Dreamcatcher' Gets Caught. -- Recently, a Reeves County Game Warden received a call from the Pecos Police Department in regard to a suspect in possession of feathers in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Pecos. The warden responded to the call to find the person was collecting bird feathers to make "dream-catchers." The suspect was in possession of more than 20 protected nongame species' feathers. The suspect had no identification or any documentation to prove who he was, but stated that he was a resident of Alabama. After a search of the vehicle with the help of other officers, a bag of marijuana was found. The suspect was charged with possession of protected nongame species parts. Pecos officers charged the suspect with possession of a controlled substance.
Everything's Coming up Roses, Or Meth -- On Christmas Day, a Wichita County Game Warden received a call from a local rancher about a suspect who was possibly stealing some anhydrous ammonia. The rancher stated they had just hired the suspect and that he was down by the barns around the anhydrous nurse tanks. The rancher had gone to see what the suspect was doing and observed an air tank and some fittings in the back of the suspect's truck. When the man pulled out onto the public road, the warden stopped him. He claimed he was getting the anhydrous for his father's rose garden. He said it made the roses bloom three times per year. When asked if the roses were blooming in the dead of winter, he did not have an answer. The subject was arrested on 3rd degree felony charges of transporting chemicals in an illegal container. Cases are pending.
Snagging Not Fish But Fines -- On New Years Day, Wichita County Game Wardens watched eight suspects fishing on a local lake. The suspects were in three boats in the middle of the lake and fishing with silver spoons with treble hooks, using a jigging type of motion. What was suspicious was that the suspects were catching large flathead catfish. While watching the suspects through spotting scopes, it was noted that the fish were being hooked in the sides and fins. These fish were balled up in a deep hole in the lake, and the subjects were snagging the fish with the treble hooks. As night fell, the suspects came back to shore one at a time and loaded up and left the lake. Once the dust had settled, 16 citations had been issued for possession of illegally taken wildlife and 27 flathead catfish had been seized. Estimated live weight of the seized fish was more than 500 pounds. Fines will total more than $8,800.
Poaching an Endangered Species -- A Matagorda County Game Warden received a tip concerning someone abusing wildlife recently and the resulting investigation uncovered one dead brown pelican. The individual was fishing from the bank in West Matagorda Bay and confessed to luring the bird with his fishing bait until it got close enough that he could "whack it on the head with a stick." The Justice of the Peace "whacked" the violator with a $584-fine, and a very large civil restitution fee is probably pending since the bird is on the state's threatened species list.
Advice if a Deer Ends up in Your Home -- Jan. 8, a Montgomery County Game Warden received a call from a woman near Conroe. She explained that a doe deer had been entangled in a small fence in her backyard. She had gone outside, leaving her door open, to see if she could help the deer. The deer freed itself then entered her home through the open door. The warden suggested that she open all of her doors, get out of sight and that the deer would find its way out of the house on its own. She didn't want to do that and contacted a Wildlife Rehabilitator. The wildlife rehabilitator said he would lasso the deer then take out of the house. The rehabilitator roped the deer around the neck and things didn't go well. The house was demolished from the struggle and the deer died in the process.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
Jan. 20, 2004
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on about 100 Texas stations. Airing the week of Jan. 19-23, we'll visit the only state park named after a marsupial.
For more information, visit the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation. This month's stories include: a look at man's best friend when it comes to hunting; the annual winter trout stocking program brings fishing to new anglers and veterans like 3-year-old Zachary; biologists head out to catch fish to make even more fish; and a profile on one of the newest state parks near Dallas.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. Stories airing the week of Jan. 18-25, Houston students experience Big Bend; the birthplace of Texas' independence; boat ramp etiquette; Balmorhea State Park; and snowy quail.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv).
The January issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine takes readers rainbow trout fishing in the cold, reservoir-fed waters of the Guadalupe River. Also in the January issue, hunt blue quail in West Texas, learn to take care of your hunting dog, read about Texas' wintering sparrows and take a wild bike ride through San Angelo State Park.
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order online (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).