|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-07-19                                    |
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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]
July 19, 2004
Texas Gets 9-Day Teal Season, Shift in Dove Zone Boundary
AUSTIN, Texas -- A shorter teal season in Texas this September won't necessarily mean less hunting success, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
This year's teal season in Texas is set for Sept. 18-26 with a four-bird daily bag limit. Based on results of recent aerial census surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over duck breeding and nesting grounds in the northern prairies the blue-winged teal breeding population stands at 4.07 million.
In order to have a 16-day teal season, blue-winged teal breeding numbers must meet or exceed the 4.7 million population target set in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
"My impressions are that a lot of bluewings moved into the breeding areas a little late and fell in on good habitat conditions resulting from precipitation later in May," said Dave Morrison, TPWD waterfowl program leader. "As a result, I believe that production will be good and despite a nine-day season it should be a good one."
Although the final decision about the 2004-05 Texas migratory game bird hunting seasons still needs formal federal approval, TPWD's executive director has approved dove, teal, rail, gallinule, snipe and woodcock hunting regulations for this fall.
In addition to teal, the season dates and bag limits for mourning dove in Texas as approved by the executive director are:
--North Zone: Sept. 1-Oct. 30 with a 15-bird daily bag limit.
--Central Zone: Sept. 1-Oct. 31 and Dec. 26-Jan. 3 with a 12-bird daily bag limit.
--South Zone: Sept. 24-Nov. 10 and Dec. 26-Jan. 16 with a 12-bird daily bag limit. In the Special White-winged Dove Area in the south zone, the season would run Sept. 4, 5, 11, 12 then Sept. 24-Nov. 10 and Dec. 26-Jan. 12. During the special whitewing season, the bag limit would be 10 in the aggregate, no more than 5 mourning dove or 2 white-tipped dove.
The major change to this year's dove regulations involves a shift of the Central Zone boundary to include areas within San Antonio's South Loop (FM 1604), which will give hunters earlier access to a huge population of white-winged doves, according to Jay Roberson, TPWD dove program leader.
"In those portions outside the city limits where discharge of firearms is allowed, hunters can capitalize on those feeding flights of whitewings," he said. TPWD conservatively estimates San Antonio's whitewing population to be in excess of 1.25 million birds.
Although whitewing numbers continue to increase in Texas, particularly in urban areas, biologists are concerned about a long-term decrease in mourning dove populations. Recent call count survey estimates by TPWD are tracking a trend that has seen a 15 percent decline during the last couple of decades.
In order to get a better understanding of mourning dove ecology, biologists in Texas and 27 states are participating in a massive bird banding study. This cooperative effort is hoped to provide information that will update existing information about the biology of this species to improve management.
Doves will be marked with metal leg bands containing a unique number and a toll free telephone number (800-327-BAND or 2263) which hunters can call to report the band. Bands may also be reported on the Internet at (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl). Hunters may keep the bands. It only takes a minute and doesn't cost a cent and hunters receive a certificate of appreciation that identifies when and where the dove was banded.
Dove hunting prospects for this fall look good, according to Roberson. Moisture conditions have been good for feed production throughout most of the state. "I think we'll see good dove production this year despite the heavy rains in some areas," he said. "We're seeing a lot of young birds collected during our banding efforts. Hunting success should be good, provided feed conditions remain good."
Rail and gallinule seasons are set for Sept. 11-26, and Oct. 30- Dec. 22. Common snipe or jacksnipe may be taken Oct. 30 through Feb. 13, 2005. The TPWD Outdoor Annual or digest of hunting regulations will be available at stores where licenses are sold beginning in August. Please check the Outdoor Annual for daily bag limits and restrictions regarding hunting means and methods.
The general waterfowl seasons won't be set until late August by the Service. Overall breeding population estimates along the traditional survey area released July 8 put ducks at 32.6 million, down 11 percent from last year and 3 percent below the long-term average.
While mallard numbers remain similar to last year's, some of the "bread and butter" ducks for Texas hunters have taken a dive. Pintails were down 15 percent from last year and wigeon numbers dropped by 22 percent. Gadwall, shovelers and green-winged teal are either above or similar to last year's numbers and canvasbacks showed an increase of 11 percent above last year's estimates. Although down from recent all-time highs of the early '90s, all remain above the long-term averages.
Information about goose populations is still being compiled and season proposals will be finalized following the Central Flyway Council discussions later in July.

[ 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 ] [NT]
July 19, 2004
Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles Set Texas Nesting Record
AUSTIN, Texas-The world's most endangered sea turtle has returned to nest on Texas beaches in record numbers this year, a hopeful sign for biologists watching the species come back from the brink of extinction.
A total of 41 Kemp's ridley nests have been reported in Texas this year, breaking past the previous Texas record of 38 nests in 2002.
For the past several years TPWD has worked with a host of other agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Gladys Porter Zoo, University of Texas and officials in Mexico to restore the Kemp's ridley turtles.
"One tactic was to bring some of the eggs from Mexico, hatch the turtles here in Texas, and imprint them on our beaches," said Mike Ray, of the Coastal Fisheries Division at TPWD. "The hope was that some would return to the Padre Island area and the good news is they are doing that."
In 1985, there were fewer than 350 nesting females reported, and this year that number is approaching 3,000. Hitting the 10,000 mark could down-list the turtles from endangered to threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
"We're getting there," Ray said. "Hopefully within 10 years we could achieve that level. The Kemp's population is expanding by about 14 percent a year."
There are several likely reasons for the increased number of turtle nestings on Texas beaches. The rapid increase in the nesting population in Mexico probably caused the Kemp's ridley to expand their nesting range. In 2001, TPWD put into action new commercial shrimping regulations that restricted the size and number of shrimping trawls per vessel in near-shore waters from the beach to nine nautical miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, an area where sea turtles feed, mate and come to the beach to nest. Another shrimping regulation includes a seven-month seasonal ban on shrimp trawling from lower coast Gulf beaches to five miles offshore. Both regulations were designed to reduce fishing pressure on shrimp near the beach; however, sea turtles were afforded more protection from the regulations as well. Importantly, the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) by the commercial fleet is a major reason the Kemp's ridley and other sea turtle populations are rebounding since the device allows turtles to escape shrimp trawls.
In an effort to protect as many sea turtles as possible, the Padre Island National Seashore incubates most of the sea turtle eggs found along the Texas coast and releases the hatchlings into the Gulf of Mexico.
Donna Shaver, Ph.D. and Chief of the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore has been working with sea turtle conservation efforts for more than 20 years. She is also excited about the record number of nesting sightings this year.
"We've had more nests than ever this year," Shaver said. "We are very hopeful to set another record in 2006."
Shaver said that all of the work for sea turtle conservation is truly a cooperative effort by all of the participating partners and also the public.
"About half of the nests that we record are due to public sightings," Shaver said. "We always encourage the public to keep their eyes peeled for sea turtle nests."
The public can view sea turtle hatchling releases this summer on North Beach of the National Seashore. The releases usually take place around 6:45 a.m. and are free to attend.
For more information about the hatchling releases including specific release dates, check online at (http://www.nps.gov/pais/pphtml/events.html) or phone the national seashore Hatchling Hotline at (361) 949-7163.

[ 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]
July 19, 2004
How To Avoid Pitfalls When Buying Used Boats
Extra! Read All Aboat It!
AUSTIN, Texas -- The transfer of boats and motors appears to be getting sloppier, with more and more people not getting titles, some sellers altering sale prices on transfer documents to avoid higher taxes and others who are inadvertently purchasing stolen crafts. So game wardens want to advise people to treat the buying or selling of a boat like they would that of an automobile.
"We see people buying boats at garage sales and receiving no paperwork and wanting to transfer it to their name," said TPWD game warden Tony Norton of Henderson County. "You wouldn't buy a car without getting the title."
If the seller doesn't have a title but has proof of boat ownership, they can request a duplicate title and then transfer it over to the buyer. The penalty for not transferring a title is a fine of as much as $500. And without a title, the boat can't be registered.
It could be worse.
"What if somebody steals it? They have to come up with proof they own the boat and a lot of them can't," said a member of TPWD's Marine Theft Unit.
Another common mistake is getting a title but not completing the boat transfer and motor transfer forms correctly. The forms can be obtained at any TPWD office or at (http://tpwd.texas.gov/boat/forms.phtml). A separate transfer form must be filled out for the outboard motor title. There is a civil tax penalty and a fine for not registering and paying the sales tax on the boat and outboard motor within 20 days of purchase.
Since boat registrations are good for two years, some people may have boats for as long as 18 months before they try to register the boat in their name and by then, it may be impossible to track down the previous owner and get a bill of sale to prove it was a legitimate transaction.
Most people don't worry about it until the registration expires. Then they realize what a mess it is.
Another common violation is people selling boats without endorsing the title in the first place. They thereby skip paying taxes on the boat -another violation punishable by a fine of as much as $500.
Norton says he also sees changes made in the tax affidavit sections on transfer forms, (title applications). "They change the price of the boat so they don't have to pay as much tax," he said.
Title applications are government documents and falsifying information or altering them for financial gain is a felony, according to TPWD.
"Because people see boats as toys, they don't put as much importance on the titling process as they do with cars," said a TPWD marine official. "People don't realize that when they alter documents to save a couple hundred bucks, and those documents are presented to us and processed a felony has been committed," he said. And that violation is punishable by as much as 2-20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

[ 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]
July 19, 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 July 19-23, Texas educators are having the state's ecosystems shipped to them one trunk at a time. Plus we'll tell you why the state's natural resources don't stop at the Rio Grande.
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: Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens are out in force this summer to promote boating safety; more than 350 Largemouth bass have been loaned or donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife's Budweiser Sharelunker Program. Recently four of these lunkers were released back into the lake they were caught by the anglers who caught them at the same time; since most of the land in Texas is privately owned, landowners are key to conservation efforts. This year's Lone Star Land Steward transformed his "worn-out South Texas ranch" into a sight to behold; and the people who love Enchanted Rock State Park near Fredericksburg are volunteering to rebuild its trails.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. The episode that airs the week of July 18-25 includes: west Texas oasis at Balmorhea State Park; the birthplace of Texas independence; boat ramp etiquette; making a connection with Big Bend; 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).
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/).