|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-12-06                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 12 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]
Dec. 6, 2004
Whooping Crane Population Reaches Record High
ROCKPORT, Texas -- This winter, the world's last natural wild population of whooping cranes pushed past the 200 mark, a landmark event for an endangered bird species that has come back from the brink of extinction in the past six decades.
Biologists at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge completed a census flight on the Texas coast and tallied 216 birds recently. That number exceeds the previous high of 194 whoopers counted in the winter of 2003-04.
The whooper population that winters in Texas and nests in northwestern Canada reached a low of only 15 birds in 1941 when efforts to protect the species and its habitat were just beginning. The population has since been growing at about four percent annually.
Although the federal refuge and nearby state lands provide the historic nucleus of whooper wintering habitat, state biologists say private landowners play an important, if often overlooked, role in helping whoopers and other wildlife, since they manage and protect private property along the coastal bays and estuaries where whooping cranes winter.
This year's increase in numbers is due to good nest production last summer. A total of 54 nesting pairs hatched 66 chicks on their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada, according to the Canadian Wildlife Service.
This year's record population of 216 includes 33 young cranes that have completed their first migration to Texas. The 33 juvenile cranes, including two sets of twins, are the most to ever arrive at Aransas, three more than the previous record high of 30 juveniles in 1997.
Although the whooping crane population remains endangered, the comeback of the species sets a standard for conservation efforts in North America.
"It's been a slow process for recovery of this species," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Biologist Lee Ann Linam, who speaks from experience. Her father Frank Johnson managed the Aransas refuge when Linam was younger and helped to bring the population to the 100-bird mark in 1986. "It takes 3-5 years for a whooping crane to mature, and when they nest, they usually only produce one chick."
"We were hoping for 200 whooping cranes in the year 2000, but the population went into a decline for a couple years before rebounding back to 194 cranes last winter. Getting a record-high count right around the Thanksgiving holiday is certainly something to be thankful for," said Tom Stehn, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service whooping crane coordinator at the Aransas refuge.
The whooping crane population continues to face many threats, including collisions with power lines during migration, limited genetic variability in the birds themselves, loss of crane migration habitat, and winter habitat threatened with loss of productivity due to reduced fresh water inflows and chemical spills.
Also, Linam notes, sandhill crane and snow goose hunters in Texas have a special responsibility in safeguarding whooping cranes that may still be migrating through Texas during hunting seasons. Hunters need to be able to recognize the difference between these similar-looking species. TPWD has posted a file on its Web site titled "Be Sure Before You Shoot," which offers drawings and information to help hunters distinguish whooping cranes from game birds.
This sole natural wild population of whooping cranes nests in the Northwest Territories of Canada in summer and migrates 2,400 miles to winter at the Aransas and Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuges and surrounding areas.
Their winter range stretches out over 35 miles of the Texas coast about 45 miles north of Corpus Christi. Wintering whooping cranes use salt marsh habitat foraging primarily for blue crabs. Unlike most other bird species, whooping cranes are territorial in both summer and winter and will defend and chase all other whooping cranes out of their estimated 350-acre territories.
Since whooping crane migration starts in mid-September and is usually not completed until mid-December, it is still possible that a few additional cranes will turn up to be counted on the weekly census flights conducted by the USFWS. It takes as many as eight hours of flying to cover the 55,600 acres of marsh over a 35-mile stretch of the Texas coast to find all the cranes. These flights determine the size of the total population, locate crane territories, and note any deaths that may have occurred.
"Counting every whooping crane every week is quite a challenge. We have thousands of other white birds in the marsh, including pelicans and egrets that make aerial spotting of cranes more difficult. Also, the cranes can move during a census flight and either not be counted or else be counted twice," said Stehn.
During the last several decades, biologists have implemented several measures to try to bring whoopers back to the wild in other locations.
Since 1993, captive bred whooping cranes have been released annually in central Florida. Today, that non-migratory flock numbers approximately 75 birds. During the past three years, these cranes demonstrated their maturity by nesting and producing chicks on their own.
In addition, a migratory flock was established using an ultra light aircraft to teach the whooping cranes a migration route between Wisconsin and Florida. This migratory flock now numbers 49, with the cranes flying solo after being led on their initial trip across the eastern U.S. behind the aircraft.
This number includes 14 juvenile whooping cranes currently in Georgia being led by the migration team. The team of pilots and biologists assigned this task make up the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.
On the Net:
“Be Sure Before You Shoot”: http://tpwd.texas.gov/hunt/regs/2005/waterfowl/pdf/besure.pdf

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: http://southwest.fws.gov/refuges/texas/aransas.html

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Dec. 6, 2004
Rains Delay Trout Stocking in Guadalupe River
Update -- Dec. 28, 2004: The stocking of 4,429 trout below Canyon Dam on the Guadalupe River Dec. 29, 2004, is postponed because of dangerously high water. Flow is currently 1,600 cubic feet per second. Trout will be stocked the morning of Dec. 31, 2004, when flow, according to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, will be reduced to 900 cubic feet per second. Normal stocking locations will be used.Update -- Dec. 8, 2004: The trout stocking for the Canyon Tailrace, scheduled for Dec. 17, is rescheduled for Jan. 21, 2005, because of high releases from Canyon Reservoir.
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is delaying the stocking of rainbow trout in the Canyon Tailrace along the Guadalupe River until at least mid-December, due to high water flow.
The stocking site is among the most popular of the 100-plus Texas water bodies that annually receive hatchery-raised rainbow trout during the department's winter trout stocking effort. Tentatively, Canyon Tailrace is scheduled to receive its first shipment of trout on Dec. 17, according to Todd Engeling, TPWD hatchery program director.
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. The success of the program is evident by the participation level.
"It's not uncommon to find 50 to 75 people at the stocking site along the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam waiting for the truck," Engeling said. "A lot of folks print out the list of stocking dates and tack it up on the fridge or bulletin board, but it's important to remember to check our Web page before making plans because the dates do change. The online schedule is updated constantly and is the most accurate schedule."
Engeling said in most cases the truck will be at the delivery site by noon, depending on how far it needs to travel. The posted dates are the days the trout are available to the general public. Many sites offer special events for youth prior to allowing the public to fish, and those are usually the day before. On this matter, folks should check with local parks and recreation departments or water authorities for additional information.
While most sites get an annual dose of between 1,000-2,000 trout, popular fishing holes like the Canyon Tailrace receive multiple stockings from December through March. As the only fishable place in Texas where rainbow trout can survive during the summer months, the Canyon Tailrace will get about 18,000 fish.
For the same reason, special regulations have been implemented along a 10-mile stretch of the Guadalupe River below the tailrace. For additional details about the special harvest regulations and the location of that river stretch, please consult the Outdoor Annual Guide. The special regulations are not in effect in the area immediately below Canyon Lake Dam. There, as in other Texas waters, the daily bag limit is five trout and there is no minimum length.
And for the first time in many years, Texas anglers do not need a special trout fishing stamp in order to fish, however a freshwater fishing package is required. Youth ages 16 and younger and anyone fishing from the bank in state parks are exempt from the fishing package requirement.
Catching these hungry fish can be easy, making the experience ideal for both newcomers to fishing and to kids, according to Engeling. "The fish will bite almost immediately after stocking and typically will take a variety of baits, from corn or soft bait to flies and even small spinnerbaits. You can have success with anything you cast at them, which makes them attractive to use for youth fishing events."
On the Net:

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Dec. 6, 2004
San Jacinto Marsh Project Wins Coastal America Award
HOUSTON - A project to restore the site of the battle for the independence of Texas from Mexico and to preserve one of the last natural tidal marshes on the Houston Ship Channel has been selected to receive a Coastal America Partnership award in a recognition event set for Dec. 9.
The award to the San Jacinto Marsh and Interpretive Trail Project is bestowed to only a handful of outstanding projects each year by Coastal America, a partnership of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, 12 federal departments, and state, local and private organizations.
To date, the $600,000 San Jacinto project has directly involved some two dozen federal, state, local and private partners. The project has restored 115 acres of the historic marsh and constructed a trail system through the marsh and adjacent prairie and bottomland forest. As a result, dozens of species of birds, along with river otters, coyotes, alligators and fish, have returned to the marsh, as have thousands of school children and other visitors.
The project is part of a larger effort to restore the entire battleground and its environs to their historic condition and provide better interpretation of the site's cultural and natural values to the public. More than $15 million has been spent on both restoration of the grounds and the 1936 San Jacinto Monument itself. Funding has been contributed to the restoration effort through a number of sources, including the Texas Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP), a public-private partnership that supports the goals of Coastal America and the State of Texas to protect, restore and preserve wetlands and aquatic habitat areas for present and future generations to enjoy.
P. Lynn Scarlett, U.S. Department of the Interior assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, will present the award on Dec. 9 on the prairie overlooking the project site.
"It brings me great pleasure to be presenting this award," Scarlett said. "Your effort, from the federal and state government, to non-profit organizations, to private citizens and corporations, indicates your collective dedication to preserving the historic and natural resource values of this special place."
In his letter of congratulations, President George W. Bush added, "By restoring this wetland, you have protected valuable habitat from degradation and preserved an important landmark of our country's history. This project is in line with my administration's goal of a net-increase in our nation's wetlands over the next five years. I applaud and support your efforts to bring together collective resources to meet common goals and better our coastal environment."
At the time of the famous 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, where some 800 Texas volunteers defeated a larger and better equipped army of Mexican regulars, the two armies were hemmed in on three sides by Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto marsh. The marsh played a crucial role in the outcome of the battle, as it prevented the escape of hundreds of Mexican soldiers routed from their encampment by the unexpected afternoon attack. Since 1836, however, the marsh has suffered from subsidence, erosion and use as a dredge disposal area. By the 1980s, the original marsh was unrecognizable.
In 1993, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) organized a task force to study the causes of marsh loss and look for solutions. In 1996-97 water control structures were constructed and clean, dredged sediment was pumped into shallow-water areas to raise the elevation to inter-tidal levels. This allowed marsh grasses and other wetland vegetation to become re-established, creating the important habitats necessary for proper functioning of the marsh system.
By 2000, the new marsh was teeming with birds and other wildlife, and park visitors - especially local schoolteachers - began requesting that TPWD construct a trail to provide access to the marsh. Bolstered by assistance from educators, volunteers and several grants, the first phase of the trail, which crosses 700 feet of prairie and 500 feet of marsh, was opened to the public in April 2002. Response to the trail exceeded expectations, attracting not just classrooms of public-school children but nature-watchers and other members of the general public. Many trail users said they had never seen a tidal marsh up-close before.
Almost immediately, plans began to take shape to expand the trail system. The success of the project attracted more partners, and another $177,500 was donated to complete the boardwalk portion of the trail across the marsh, making possible the completion of a 3-mile trail loop. The loop includes a marsh observation deck, two outdoor classroom areas and views of the battleground, monument and Houston Ship Channel. In some places, no development is visible at all, and visitors are amazed to discover a little slice of wilderness planted in the middle of one of the largest petro-chemical industrial complexes in the world.
"Most people understandably think of San Jacinto as an important place in Texas history, but it is also a vital natural area," said Robert L. Cook, TPWD executive director. "By restoring the marsh and creating trails and interpretive facilities, we'll have a richer experience for our visitors connecting natural and cultural history."
The Coastal America Partnership was established in 1992 to protect, preserve and restore coastal watersheds by integrating federal actions with state and local government and non-governmental efforts. Federal partners include the Departments of Agriculture, Air Force, Army, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Navy, State, Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Executive Office of the President.
To recognize outstanding partnership efforts, Coastal America established a national awards program in 1997. In 2002, the Coastal America Partnership Award went to the TPWD-led task force for wetland restoration efforts at Galveston Island State Park. The San Jacinto Marsh and Interpretive Trail Team is one of 10 partnership initiatives selected to receive the 2004 award.
The award will be presented to the team at 10 a.m. on Dec. 9 under a tent overlooking the marsh on the north side of the Monument. Immediately following the ceremony, TPWD project manager Ted Hollingsworth will lead a tour of the project site and trail for anyone interested.
On the Net:
San Jacinto marsh project: http://tpwd.texas.gov/park/sanjac/marsh.htm

[ Note: This item is more than 12 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]
Dec. 6, 2004
New Landowner Brochure Offers Advice
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Private Lands and Public Hunting Program at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a new brochure available -- primarily for new owners of rural land.
"A Place in the Country - Guidance for New Landowners" offers advice and recommendations for the growing number of people purchasing land for recreational use.
Topics include what to consider when purchasing recreation land, understanding the habitats and wildlife found on your land, wildlife management as an agricultural tax option, being a good neighbor, and technical/financial assistance available from TPWD and other agencies. The new brochure is being distributed to Wildlife Regional and District offices, urban biologists, and wildlife field staff assisting landowners.
For more information or to obtain copies, please contact Marla Bays at (512) 389-4959.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Dec. 6, 2004
TPWD Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
No Trolls Under This Bridge -- A Hardeman County Game Warden responded to a tip recently about something "strange" under the river bridge there. The warden found six signs that had been stolen from nearby Copper Breaks State Park and about 30 pumpkins. The investigation continues.
Same Song, Second Verse -- A Shelby County Game Warden apprehended three Orange residents hunting deer at night in the Sabine National Forest recently. Two of the violators had been dealt with by the warden in 2001 when they had killed a doe in closed season less then a mile from where they were caught this time. One of the violators repeatedly tried to convince the warden that they were not night hunting, until another suspect told him, "Shut up; he has dealt with people like us before." Cases are pending.
Never Steal From a Federal Agent -- San Augustine County Game Wardens responded to a call from a local hunting club about trespassing and the theft of a firearm. The suspects entered the property by boat from the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. As the caller was checking a deer feeder, one of the suspects ran up, took the rifle from the caller's 4-wheeler and fled. The caller gave chase and was able to get the ID number from the suspect's boat. After several phone calls, the suspects were arrested as they left work in Beaumont some time later. They gave written statements and the location of the rifle and were charged with criminal trespass and theft. Thanks to the members of the hunting club, who happen to be DEA and FBI agents, for their help. Cases are pending.
Sounds Like Nature -- A Briscoe County Game Warden was patrolling recently and located a Sandhill Crane hunter. As the warden approached the area the person was hunting, a group of cranes were coming into the person's decoys. The warden did not want to disturb the hunt, so he drove down the road to observe. The person then called the warden on his cell phone and asked if he needed something. The warden responded that he was going to check him once the cranes passed. As they were talking, the warden noticed that the cranes had passed, but he could still hear a large group of cranes via the phone. The warden asked the person if some of the cranes were on the ground near him, and the subject said no. The warden then asked the subject if he was using an electronic call, and the subject said yes. Case is pending for the use of an illegal electronic call.
VFW Honors Game Warden -- Sutton County Game Warden Will Allison was presented a Life Saving Award from the District Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, on behalf of the National Commander of the VFW. The award honored Allison for his heroic action in saving the life of a Brady resident whose truck had been washed off the road during a flash flood situation in September 2004.
Herb'Ivore Hunter -- Freestone County Game Wardens checked a suspect recently who was leaving a deer camp. The person did not have his hunting license with him so they returned to the camp. After being confronted about his extreme nervousness, the person handed over a bag or marijuana. A search of the camp revealed more marijuana and a bag of cocaine. The suspect was already on probation for distribution of marijuana. His probation officer's business card was found in the same container as the cocaine. Cases are pending.
Need Your Help Catching a Poacher -- Limestone County Game Warden Kurt Slaughter needs help in locating a set of horns. A 12 or more point whitetail buck was killed during Nov. 9-10 in Leon County. The buck was a mature deer and supported heavy horns. The buck can be easily identified by the five points on the G-1's. The right bow tine has three points and the left bow tine is split into two points. The G-1's are approximately six inches long. Someone killed the buck in a High Fence Ranch, scaled the fence, and recovered the head. The rest of the carcass of the deer was left behind. If you have any information about this crime, please call Game Warden Dwight Myers at (903) 922-2774.
Don't Mess With Troopers -- Motley and Lamb County Game Wardens apprehended three individuals who were hunting without the landowner's consent. The three decided to hunt property leased to the local Department of Public Safety trooper who called the wardens. Charges are pending.
I Confess -- Van Zandt County Game Wardens were visiting the Justice of the Peace in Ben Wheeler when the wardens noted a large metal bowl covered in blood in the front yard at a house next door. The wardens visited with the occupant of the home who stated he had helped a friend clean a deer. When asked if he had killed a deer, the man replied, "I can't hunt anymore because I'm a felon!" When asked the name of his friend, the man became confused and stated, "I knew this was going to happen." The man went on to confess to killing three deer on opening day. A 4-point and two 8-point antlers were seized along with one rifle. Cases are pending.
Setting the Wrong Example -- Again! -- A Rusk County Game Warden was flagged down by a deer hunter while checking camps recently. The hunter advised that he and his hunting companions had been heavily peppered by some duck hunters during their morning hunt. The hunter believed the duck hunters were trespassing. Later that evening, the warden patrolled the area where the duck hunters had been and discovered the hunters had returned for an evening hunt, continuing until 20 minutes after sunset to kill three wood ducks. Three adult males and three juvenile males (ages 14, 13 and 6) were apprehended. Two of the three adults were filed on last year for hunting migratory birds after legal shooting hours on Lake Striker in the same county, by the same game warden, and under the same judge. The landowner signed criminal trespass affidavits against the adults. Five shotguns were seized and six cases are pending. The judge offered the defendants a choice: $250 per offense and the forfeiture of their shotguns to the state or $500 per offense with the return of their weapons. Cases are pending.
Here Comes the Judge -- A Dewitt County Game Warden responded to a call concerning shots fired from a public road in a subdivision. He tracked down two suspects who confessed to shooting a hog. Three cases were filed against the suspects. It turns out the two men shot the hog in front of the house of the judge who will handle their cases.
Bulldozer Hate Crime -- Grayson and Denton County Game Wardens, along with a federal agent, investigated a criminal mischief incident that occurred at the Hagerman Refuge, where equipment had been damaged. After a series of interviews, two young men living next to the refuge gave statements admitting to the crime. More than $2,000 in damage was done to a bulldozer with an axe.
Once Expensive Brew -- A Howard County Game Warden was patrolling a ranch that bordered a rural road in Andrews County when a group of motorcyclists stopped on the shoulder of the road and began drinking beer. One of the riders tossed his empty can in the ditch. The warden approached the men and issued a citation for littering to the one who tossed the can. A records check revealed an outstanding warrant for the person for criminal mischief in Ector County. During the trip to jail in Andrews, the suspect stated that it was just not right that game wardens drove green pickups. He said he thought they should drive black and white vehicles with light bars like the Department of Public safety troopers.
Breaking All the Rules -- Hardeman and Mason County Game Wardens met in Potter County to patrol opening weekend of deer season on the Canadian River by horseback. The horse patrol apprehended one suspect who had killed a white-tailed buck and had tagged it with a mule deer tag. The suspect also failed to cut the dates out and didn't log the kill on his license. While one warden was issuing a citation, the other two wardens backtracked where the deer had been dragged. It turned out to have been taken from private property. The suspect claimed to have shot it on public property and advised that it had run and jumped the fence. All of the evidence found indicated otherwise, and the suspect finally gave a statement indicating it was on private property. Wardens said being on horseback helps them patrol more dense areas.
Above and Beyond the Call -- A Williamson County Warden responded to a call for assistance from the area Sheriff's Office to rescue residents in a trailer park along the San Gabriel River in the recent floods that affected east and central Texas. The waters had risen out of the banks and immediately flooded the access to the park. One resident was very appreciative of the warden retrieving the victim's wife's heart medication and another was grateful for the assistance of moving some family heirlooms out of the flooded trailer by boat.
"Catch Me If You Can" -- Walker and Brazos County Game Wardens teamed up to work in an area where the wardens had received information about baiting and hunting late for ducks. The wardens walked into the area and heard a volley of shotgun shots, then the sound of a four-wheeler. As contact was made, it was clear that the area had been baited for ducks and the suspects had unplugged guns and were hunting late. Two of the hunters had been known to say, "We can't get caught. The wardens aren't that good." A total of seven citations were issued, and three wood duck drakes, three shotguns and a 50-pound bag of corn were seized. One of the hunters begged the wardens not to tell anyone that they had been caught. Cases are pending.
Experience Is Not Always the Best Teacher -- A Montgomery County Game Warden and a U.S. Forest Service official were patrolling in the Sam Houston National Forest recently and came across two hunters and one had received five citations last year from the same officers. Apparently he did not learn his lesson. The hunting group had entered the forest by boat and taken an 8-point buck. Once the investigators rounded up all the hunters and completed their investigation, the violations included: one for no public hunting lands permit, four for hunting on A Wildlife Management Area without wearing hunter orange, one for hunting on a WMA with buckshot, one for no hunting license, three for no hunter education, two for hunting from a permanent stand on a WMA, one for expired boat registration, one for failure to transfer the title of a boat, one for giving false information, and one for possession of marijuana. Cases are pending.

[ Note: This item is more than 12 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]
Dec. 6, 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 more than 100 Texas stations. Airing the week of Dec. 6-10, for a brief moment, one of the rarest endangered marine species in the world surfaced on the Texas coast. Plus, Texas school children are being asked to help find out what happened to one of the state's most beloved reptiles.
For more information, visit the Web.
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.
For more information, go to the Web.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web.
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.
On the Net:
Passport to Texas: http://www.passporttotexas.org/
TPWD Video News: http://tpwd.texas.gov/news/tv/vnr/thismonth/
TPWD on PBS: http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv
TPW Magazine: http://www.tpwmagazine.com/