|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2005-05-31                                    |
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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 ] [KE]
May 31, 2005
Boating Season Kicks Off With Warning About Boating While Drunk
Extra! Read All Aboat It!
UNDATED -- With the arrival of National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27), Boating While Intoxicated arrests are up statewide. Statewide, there were 193 BWI arrests in 2003 and in 2004, there were 279.
A reminder: a law that took effect in 2001 includes suspension of an automobile driver's license for failing to submit to alcohol testing when suspected of operating a vessel while intoxicated. This applies to watercrafts of 50 horsepower or more.
"Texas is different from many other states in that we have a year-round boating season. We also have more inland water than any of the 48 continental states. We have a coastline and all the activity there as well. We also have one of the highest number of registered boats in the nation. We just have a lot of activity. With all this in mind, we feel like overall, boating is a safe activity in Texas, but boaters should learn and follow basic safety tips," said Willie Gonzalez, assistant chief of marine enforcement at TPWD.
There are about 623,000 boats registered in Texas.
Game wardens will be conducting media ride-alongs all summer. For more information, contact your local game warden office. Also, TPWD boater education courses are available in a traditional classroom setting, online and through a home video course. Call (800) 792-1112 for more details.
Boating Accidents
Area	Fatalities	Injuries	Accidents	Fatalities	Injuries	Accidents
San Antonio	1	19	18	2	11	12
DFW	5	16	31	2	33	32
Houston	10	30	47	8	22	39
Austin	6	42	75	2	34	41
State-wide	39	175	264	35	155	209

[ 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 ] [KD]
May 31, 2005
Authorities Suggest Ways for Living With Alligators
HOUSTON -- As Texas residents expand their homes and businesses into alligator country, encounters between these normally shy reptiles and humans are increasing. And late spring through summer is alligator mating and nesting season, when gators are more likely to be visible.
"Springtime is when alligators are most active," said Monique Slaughter, a TPWD biologist who helps run the alligator program out of the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area in Port Arthur. "Courtship and mating begins in late spring and continues through early summer. April-July are peak months for nuisance gator calls."
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens and biologists stress education rather than over-reaction as a first step in dealing with gators and suggest a "live and let live" approach whenever possible.
In recent years, there's been a steady rise in alligator complaints logged by the communications center at the TPWD Law Enforcement Division office in La Porte, many of which are not true "nuisance" alligators. In 2004, the office reported 690 calls, about half of which required no game warden action. Most of these calls came from five counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Harris, and Liberty.
"We now have procedures in place where we can educate callers that alligators are not normally aggressive, and if you leave them alone they'll leave you alone," said Inez Tipp, who has been TPWD's communications supervisor in the Houston area for the past seven years. "When you have an aggressive alligator there's no doubt, but a lot of the calls are from people who just have no idea that there are alligators here and have never seen one before."
In Texas, no fatalities have been documented due to alligators. In the past 15 years, there have been 17 reported injuries due to alligators statewide, none life threatening.
Slaughter said alligators dig dens known as gator holes in levees and banks along bayous, sloughs, or other secluded areas. During the winter, these dens offer protection and cover. In mid-summer, females build nests near these sites. When hatchlings hatch out, they stay close to the gators holes for safety. During drought periods, these holes may be the only water source for alligators and other wildlife.
Slaughter also said that TPWD estimates there are 286,000 alligators in Chambers, Jefferson, and Orange Counties, but no statewide population estimate exists. Alligators currently are found in 120 of the 254 counties in Texas. Hunting statistics for the past 15 years show the average adult Texas gator is seven feet long and weighs 60 pounds.
In 1969, a state law that preceded the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 protected the alligator. A combined effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies in the south brought the alligator back, allowing it to rebound in many areas where it had been depleted by unregulated hunting and loss of habitat. The alligator was removed from the endangered list in the 1980s. Since 1984, sustainable hunting has been allowed in Texas and Louisiana.
In October 2003, it became a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $25 to $500 for any person who intentionally feeds a free-ranging alligator. Use of bait for legal hunting by licensed hunters or nuisance alligator control hunters is not interpreted as feeding.
Alligator experts say the most important rule for the public is to never feed an alligator or allow it to get food. Once an alligator loses its natural fear of people it must typically be killed, since if relocated it would only seek people to find food and become a problem somewhere else.
People should keep a safe distance from gators of 30 feet or more. Besides never feeding wild alligators, these tips should reduce the risk of an alligator conflict involving you or your pets: keep your pets on a leash or in a penned enclosure, don't get too close to or swim in areas where alligators are commonly observed, don't harass or agitate an alligator, never approach an alligator nest or a pod of young alligators that a female alligator might be guarding, remember that alligators are most active at dawn and dusk in the warmer months of the year, and always treat them with the respect they deserve as wild animals.
Teachers will soon be able to educate their students on alligators and other reptiles and amphibians in the Harris/Galveston County areas. The TPWD Urban Wildlife Biologists in the area are working on an educational tool, (the "Reptiles and Amphibians in the City" trunk), and it can be checked out as early as August by schools, Boy Scout groups or other organizations. The trunk, in developmental stages now, will contain demonstrative tools such as an alligator skull and a small alligator head, pop-up books and power point slides to help identify key species of local reptile and amphibian.
"We have a series of trunks that we let schools or other people use," said Keith Crenshaw, a biologist with the project. "It helps when we use the trunk to help educate kids."
Information about alligators, including safety tips for Living with Alligators, research reports and basic natural history, is on the TPWD Web site.
On the Net:

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
May 31, 2005
State Parks Lure Anglers During Family Fishing Celebration
AUSTIN, Texas -- Lazy summer days and fishing just seem to go hand in hand, so it's the perfect time to take advantage of the Family Fishing Celebration that allows fishing without a fishing license in Texas state parks.
The Family Fishing Celebration was launched to encourage families and others to fish at more than 70 state parks without having to purchase a fishing license and required stamps.
Houston postal workers B. E. Lewis and K. R. Colwell were found taking advantage of the Family Fishing Celebration on a recent spring morning by doing some bank fishing at Fort Boggy State Park near Centerville. They said they appreciate not having to have a fishing license and stamps to try their luck at reeling in some bluegills from the park's 15-acre lake.
"We like having the lake all to ourselves this morning," Lewis said. "On our days off, we come up here several times a year just to fish and relax."
Academy Sports & Outdoors is the exclusive retail sponsor of this year's promotion that runs through Labor Day. In addition to providing funding, Academy has provided state parks with bobbers and kids' fishing starter kits that will be given away as prizes at Family Fishing Celebration events held this summer at several Texas state parks.
A number of state parks across Texas will be holding special FFC events on June 4. They are: Cooper Lake's South Sulphur Unit (Sulphur Springs), Eisenhower (Denison), LakeArrowhead (Wichita Falls), Lake Whitney (Whitney), Martin Dies, Jr., (Jasper), McKinney Falls (Austin), Purtis Creek (Eustace), Sabine Pass Battleground (Sabine Pass) and Tyler (Tyler).
A complete list of state parks offering fishing opportunities and dates of upcoming FFC events and seminars can be found on the TPWD Web site or by calling (800) 792-1112.
The FFC's license-free angling in Texas state parks applies only to bank and pier fishing, and to boat fishing in bodies of water totally contained within the boundaries of a state park, such as Lake Raven in Huntsville State Park and Park Lake in Buescher State Park. The fishing license waiver does not apply to anglers who launch boats from state park property to access an adjacent lake or other water body because it does not apply outside state park boundaries.
On the Net:

[ 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 ] [LH]
May 31, 2005
Falcon Reservoir Primed To Reclaim Bass Reputation
ZAPATA, Texas --Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists are excited over the prospects for Falcon Reservoir. A decade ago Falcon Reservoir offered some of the best bass fishing in Texas and was a very popular destination for bass tournament anglers. Then came a 10-year drought that pulled water levels down and led to a decline in bass fishing.
Beginning in fall 2003, heavy rains in the Rio Grande watershed brought drought conditions to an end. Falcon's water level dramatically increased, from 45 feet low in June 2003 to nearly full in summer 2004. The reservoir size swelled to about 60,000 acres. When the lake level rose, water inundated thousands of acres of brush, providing ideal habitat for young fish.
Recent TPWD surveys and fishing success at the reservoir indicate that largemouth bass are making a speedy recovery.
Results of a March 2005 bass tournament showed that Falcon is well on its way to reclaiming its reputation as a top bass fishing lake. Of the 147 teams participating, 107 brought 5-fish limits to the weigh-in with the average weight of the fish being 2.9 pounds. It took a 5-fish limit of 28.96 pounds to take first place and a fish weighing 10.6 pounds to collect the big bass award.
A TPWD Inland Fisheries electrofishing survey of Falcon in April 2005 showed a very abundant population of 7 to 12 inch largemouth bass. These fish, spawned in 2004 and 2005, experienced exceptional survival because of all the cover in the reservoir. These young bass are also growing very rapidly and should make for plenty of quality size fish to catch in years to come. Fish hatched in 2004 already average 10 inches long and should reach the 14-inch minimum length limit by spring 2006.
TPWD biologists recognized that the improved habitat conditions in Falcon would yield high stocking success, so a record number of largemouth bass were stocked in 2004 to boost natural production and improve the genetics of the population. Both Florida and northern largemouth fish were stocked. Most of the 840,000 fish were about an inch long.
In December 2004, Falcon produced its first entry into TPWD's Budweiser ShareLunker program in nine years. This fish, caught by San Antonio resident Jerry Campos, weighed 14.28 pounds and was the largest of 24 fish entered into the program during the 2004-05 season. Some 12,000 ShareLunker offspring produced at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens were stocked into Falcon in May 2005.
Falcon Reservoir is located about three hours south of San Antonio. Although it is a long drive from most metropolitan areas in the state, Falcon is worth the trip considering the world-class largemouth bass fishing it will offer in the next few years.
Hotels, restaurants, tackle shops and boat launching can be found in the city of Zapata, which is located adjacent to the reservoir. Falcon Lake State Park (956) 848-5327, located near the dam, has campsites with electricity and water and a three-lane concrete boat ramp. More information about Falcon Reservoir can be obtained by contacting the Zapata County Chamber of Commerce (800) 292-5253 or www.zapatausa.com or by calling TPWD's San Antonio Inland Fisheries office (210) 348-6355.

[ 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]
May 31, 2005
Master Naturalist Fall Training Classes Offered
AUSTIN, Texas -- Fourteen chapters of the Texas Master Naturalist program will be conducting fall training classes for volunteers who want to help conserve natural resources.
The Texas Master Naturalist program, which has 33 chapters statewide, develops a local corps of well-informed citizen volunteers who educate their communities about the management of natural resources.
The main qualification needed to become a Certified Texas Master Naturalist is an interest in learning and playing an active part in conservation. Volunteers will receive a minimum 40 hours of training from educators and natural resource specialists from universities, state and federal agencies, nature centers and museums. Training topics include interpretation and management of natural resources, ecological concepts, eco-regions of Texas and natural systems management. Volunteers are expected to give 40 hours of service a year in community education, demonstration and habitat enhancement projects. They are also expected to pursue a minimum of eight hours of advanced training in areas of personal interest.
Texas Master Naturalist Chapters offering volunteer training this fall are listed below. Enrollment is limited in most chapters. Some registration deadlines have passed, but contact the chapter to see if seating is still available.
--Angleton--Cradle of Texas Chapter. Training begins Sept. 7. Registration deadline is Aug. 19. For more information phone (979) 849-1564, ext. 112 or e-mail r-tillman@tamu.edu
--Athens--Post Oak Chapter. Training starts on Oct. 1. The registration deadline is Sept. 17. For information, call (903) 887-5061.
--Bryan/College Station--Brazos Valley Chapter. Training begins Sept. 15. Registration deadline is June 1. For more information, contact vidya.rajan@blinn.edu.
--Burnet--Highland Lakes Chapter. Classes begin September 8. For information phone 512-756-5463 or email: burnet-tx@tamu.edu **
--Corpus Christi--South Texas Chapter. Classes begin September 13. For more information phone 361-767-5217 or email: wm-womack@tamu.edu. ***
--Denton--Elm Fork Chapter. Class Roundup is Aug. 18 and the registration deadline is Aug. 25. Training begins Sept. 6. For more information, phone (940) 349-2883 or e-mail jn-cooper@tamu.edu.
--Fort Davis--Tierra Grande Chapter. The first class for this new chapter is being planned for late August. Information is available by e-mail at: education_cdri@overland.net.
--Fort Worth--Cross Timbers Chapter. Orientation begins on Aug. 30. For more information, phone (817) 355-4832 or e-mail membership@ctmn.org.
--Houston--Gulf Coast Chapter. Classes begin Aug. 27. Deadline for registration is Aug. 8. Phone (281) 855-5600 or e-mail gcmn@tamu.edu.
--Jasper--New Master Naturalist Chapter. Training begins August 13. For more information Phone (409) 384-5231 or e-mail Katherine.Crippens@tpwd.texas.gov. *
--Kerrville--Hill Country Chapter. Classes begin Aug. 31. Registration deadline is July 15. For information phone (830) 257-2094 or e-mail hcmasternaturalist@yahoo.com.
--New Braunfels--Lindheimer Chapter. Classes begin Nov. 1. Registration deadline is Oct. 14 and orientation will be held Oct. 18. For information phone (830) 620-3440 or e-mail elee@nbutexas.com.
--Rosenberg--Coastal Prairie Chapter. Classes begin Sept. 8. Registration deadline is July 28. For information contact p.dhemecourt@prodigy.net.
--San Antonio--Alamo Area Chapter. Classes start Sept. 15. For information phone (210) 698-2397 or e-mail www.alamomasternaturalist.org.
--Waco--Heart of Texas Chapter. Classes start Sept. 14. For information contact noras@ci.waco.tx.us
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Cooperative Extension co-sponsor the Texas Master Naturalist Program statewide. For more information about existing chapters or forming a new chapter, contact Sonny Arnold, Assistant Program Coordinator, 111 Nagle Hall, 2258, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2258, or e-mail sarnold@ag.tamu.edu or phone (979) 458-1099.
* Correction, May 31, 2005: This items was added to the list after the first publication of this release on the TPWD Web site. (Return to corrected item.)
** Correction, June 1, 2005: The original content of this item has been corrected. (Return to corrected item.)
*** Correction, June 1, 2005: This items was added to the list after the first publication of this release on the TPWD Web site. (Return to corrected item.)

[ 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 ]
May 31, 2005
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 June 1-3, grab a line, pole and bait, because this Saturday you can fish for free. Ann Miller will give you the angle this week on Passport to Texas. Also, we'll tell you how one state-wide organization is trying to make it easier to get across Texas, one trail at time.
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. Airing May 30- June 5, learn about the importance of the Wildlife Restoration Act with Education Director Steve Hall of Austin; veterans of the Battleship TEXAS gather to remember old times and rekindle old friendships; go underground at Longhorn Cavern State Park; Ann Miller of the Outdoor Learning Program introduces us to some animals that use their coloration for camouflage; game warden recruiter Royce Wells is working to enlist more Spanish speaking game wardens into the department; and finally, at Lake Mineral Wells State Park the limestone rocks of Penitentiary Hollow are a great place for relaxing.
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/