|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2005-11-21                                    |
|  This page contains only plain text, no HTML formatting codes.          |
|  It is not designed for display in a browser but for copying            |
|  and editing in whatever software you use to lay out pages.             |
|  To copy the text into an editing program:                              |
|    --Display this page in your browser.                                 |
|    --Select all.                                                        |
|    --Copy.                                                              |
|    --Paste in a document in your editing program.                       |
|  If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send            |
|  an e-mail to webtech@tpwd.state.tx.us and mention Plain Text Pages.    |

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Nov. 21, 2005
Inland Fisheries Biologists Tag and Stock 20,000 Budweiser Sharelunker Offspring
ATHENS, Texas -- Will the potential next world record largemouth bass please raise a fin?
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries biologists tagged and stocked 20,000 6-inch largemouth bass the week of November 14 as part of an ongoing effort to produce a new world record.
Operation World Record (OWR) evolved as a result of the Budweiser ShareLunker program. Now in its 20th year, the ShareLunker program has accepted 391 largemouth bass donated by anglers and used them for spawning in an effort to increase the number and size of trophy largemouth bass caught in Texas.
But until OWR, the program was based mostly on faith and common sense, which hold that bigger-than-average fish stand a better-than-average chance of producing offspring that will also grow large. Like cattle or deer, fish need three things to reach their maximum growth potential: good genetics, good nutrition and plenty of time to grow.
Recent advances in the ability to detect genetic differences among fish are expected to enable scientists to confirm their belief that big fish have genes that make it possible for them to grow bigger, and that these genes can be passed on to their offspring.
After extracting DNA from ShareLunker tissue samples, TPWD geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo looks for short repetitive sequences of DNA known as microsatellites. At locations along the chromosomes where microsatellites exist -- known as microsatellite loci -- the DNA sequence is highly variable, providing elevated levels of variation among individuals. Variation is expressed in the form of different sized alleles at these microsatellite loci. Different sized alleles in different individuals can then be used to identify or exclude possible offspring at a later date. "We will be using up to 17 microsatellite loci to monitor these fish," said Lutz-Carrillo. "We have DNA from the ShareLunker fish and their male mates. Taken together, the combinations of alleles at these 17 loci are virtually unique to these individuals. This allows us to use a technique analogous to fingerprinting to identify specific fish except that the alleles, unlike fingerprints, are passed on to their offspring. When fish are collected from these reservoirs at a later date, we will examine their DNA to determine if they are possible offspring from these ShareLunker crosses."
"The study reservoirs were selected by considering a variety of factors," said Mukhtar Farooqi, a principal investigator in the study along with Michael Baird, Timothy Bister and Thomas Hungerford. "The most important criteria were habitat, water quality, reservoir size and sampling conditions. We also considered the trophy history of the lake as well as its forage base and harvest regulations."
Coded wire tags, tiny pieces of stainless steel wire 0.25 mm in diameter and 1.1 mm long, are inserted using a tag injector. The fish are then run through a device that magnetically detects the tag. If a tag is present, the fish falls into a holding tank. If no tag is detected, the device swings a gate inside to shunt the fish into a net so it can be retrieved and tagged.
"The fish we tagged last week will be sampled by electrofishing in April 2009," Farooqi explained. "At the same time, we will sample wild fish of the same age from the reservoirs. Differences in length and weight of the ShareLunker offspring and wild fish will provide insight into the effectiveness of TPWD's OWR largemouth bass selective breeding program."
"Ultimately we will be able to take a DNA sample from a Budweiser ShareLunker and determine that fish's parents," said Allen Forshage, director of TFFC.
Forshage also praised the TFFC hatchery staff that raised the fish. "The survival rate of the fingerlings was high, which reflects the months of careful work of the biologists and technicians at TFFC," he said.
The Budweiser ShareLunker program is made possible through support from Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Since 1991, Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, has contributed millions of dollars in funding to support conservation causes and fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation programs in Texas.

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Nov. 21, 2005
Texas State Parks Offer Holiday Gift Special
AUSTIN, Texas -- This holiday season, why don't you give that someone special Enchanted Rock, Ray Roberts Lake, a Spanish mission in Goliad or Wyler Aerial Tramway in El Paso.
By purchasing a State Parks Pass gift certificate, you will be providing the gift recipient and their guests with a year of free entry to some 120 Texas state parks, historic sites and state natural areas that represent the best of Texas' natural and cultural attractions. Order yours before Dec. 31 and you'll receive a commemorative 2006 Texas State Parks tree ornament, a pillow box for the ornament and gift card.
The Texas State Parks Pass gift certificates may be purchased for $60 at most Texas state parks or ordered by phone from the Customer Service Center, (512) 389-8900. Recipients of the gift certificate can then redeem the certificate at a Texas state park, historic site or state natural area and receive their State Parks Pass. Persons who redeem the gift certificate by June 30, 2006, also receive a free 12-month subscription to Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.
Customers also can purchase the past four years' collectible Texas State Parks ornaments for $4.25 each, plus tax and shipping charges by calling the Customer Service Center in Austin at (512) 389-8900. A special "RV There Yet" holiday ornament also is available through the service center. In addition, the following parks offer their own commemorative ornaments available on site: Barrington Farm, Bastrop-Buescher, Battleship TEXAS, Casa Navarro, Eisenhower, Eisenhower Birthplace, Fulton Mansion, Garner, Goose Island, Longhorn Cavern, Lost Maples, Lyndon B. Johnson, Monahans Sandhills, Monument Hill/Kreische Brewery, Palo Duro Canyon, San Jacinto, Texas State Railroad, Washington-on-the-Brazos and Wyler Aerial Tramway.
In addition to unlimited free visits to all Texas state parks, the pass also includes discounts at select parks on camping, lodging, park store merchandise, equipment rentals and free programs. Other perks for pass holders are a quarterly e-newsletter, The Getaway Planner; a free copy of the Texas State Park Guide; and a bumper sticker.
More than 100,000 parks passes have been sold since the program debuted on Jan. 1, 2004. Revenues this year have already outpaced last year's sales totals, generating needed funds for the operation and upkeep of Texas state parks. Through Oct. 29 of this year, TPWD reported sales of 57,978 park passes, up from sales this time last year.
"I can't think of a better gift than that of the great outdoors and some of Texas' most significant heritage that the parks pass delivers," said Walt Dabney, Texas state parks director. "The brass-plated tree ornament adds value to the deal and goes a long way toward supporting our state park system."
In addition to the parks pass, holiday shoppers can purchase a host of other unusual gift items from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, such as books, videos, conservation license plates, posters, wildlife stamps and more, by visiting the TPWD Web site and selecting links to books, posters, collectible wildlife stamps, caps and more.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Nov. 21, 2005
Annual Winter Trout Stocking Begins Dec. 1
AUSTIN, Texas -- For an inexpensive, entry-level fishing experience the entire family can enjoy, it doesn't get much easier than winter rainbow trout fishing in Texas.
Beginning Dec. 1 and continuing through March, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will stock upwards of 270,000 hatchery-reared rainbow trout at more than 100 sites across the state. Many of the fish stockings will be conducted at small community fishing lakes, state park lakes and popular river tailraces offering easy angling access.
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.
Fishing gear can be as basic as an inexpensive spincast rod and reel combo, a small plastic bobber, a fishing weight and a hook. It's also a good idea to carry along a pair of needle-nosed pliers to help remove hooks, and a five gallon bucket, small ice chest or a fish stringer to keep your catch. Be sure to keep fresh trout cold on ice or refrigerated.
A list of stocking sites with detailed driving directions is available on the TPWD Web site tpwd.texas.gov. The posted stocking 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. 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 Guadalupe River below the Canyon Reservoir dam which includes the 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 Guadalupe River 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 TPWD Outdoor Annual. The special regulations zone does not include 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.
A valid Texas freshwater fishing package is required to fish for trout. Youth ages 16 and younger and all anglers fishing from the bank in state parks are exempt from the fishing package requirement.
Trout make ideal table fare and are easily prepared. They are best eaten fresh within two days of the catch, but can also be frozen. First, remove the entrails by making an incision with a sharp knife along the length of the underside of the fish and thoroughly wash inside and out under running water. Trout do not need to be scaled. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and top with a thin slice or two of lemon. You can also season with your favorite seafood spices. Wrap the prepared fish individually in aluminum foil and bake or grill until done, usually no more than 4-8 minutes at 350 degrees (fish flakes off easily with a fork when properly cooked).
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Nov. 21, 2005
Workshop Offers Tips for West Texas Landowners
EL PASO, Texas -- A workshop to be held Jan. 18 will help West Texas landowners learn more about available tools to manage wildlife habitat and diversify income on smaller properties between two and 2,000 acres. The workshop is part of a statewide series designed to address the growing problem of Texas rural land being fragmented into smaller tracts, often involving urban-based owners who are interested in wildlife conservation but may lack experience in wildlife or land management.
For more than a century, rural Texas land has been owned mainly by farm and ranch families who lived on it. In recent decades, the countryside has been fragmented into smaller tracts owned increasingly by urban, absentee owners looking for a weekend retreat or retirement home. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing that Texas led the nation in the loss of undeveloped land from 1992-97.
Land fragmentation is one of the main threats to wildlife in Texas. It crowds wildlife into smaller spaces, blocks travel corridors and disrupts access to feeding areas.
The El Paso workshop will discuss the tools, people and funding programs available to help landowners achieve conservation and financial goals when managing property for wildlife. Local wildlife professionals from TPWD and other organizations will give presentations regarding habitat and species management techniques, wildlife tax valuation and other topics at the workshop.
"The loss of habitat and wildlife in Texas is directly proportional to urbanization, land fragmentation and the introduction of exotic (non-native) species," said Lois Balin, TPWD urban wildlife biologist in El Paso. "Landowners have the distinctive ability to assist in restoring habitat and wildlife diversity by participating in one of the many private landowner programs available. This workshop will provide the foundation of resources and tools needed to help landowners manage their property for the benefit of wildlife while supplementing their income."
TPWD and the Texas Cooperative Extension are sponsoring the event, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the A&M Research Center, 1380 A&M Circle in El Paso.
The cost for the workshop is $25 per person or $40 per couple, which covers lunch, refreshments and materials. Registration is required by Jan. 13 to ensure that organizers have sufficient workshop materials for attendees. For more information and reservations, contact Lois Balin at (915) 774-9603 or elpasowild@aol.com or see the Landowner Workshops calendar on the TPWD Web site.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Nov. 21, 2005
Photo Tour Encourages Private Land Wildlife Conservation
AUSTIN, Texas -- The inaugural 2006 Pro-Tour of Nature Photography next April 1-30 will bring together professional nature photographers and Texas hill country landowners, with 20 photographer-landowner teams competing for $200,000 in prize money. Organizers say it is the world's first all-professional tournament for nature photography.
Each team will submit a 75-image portfolio containing photos in each of six categories-birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, insects and arachnids, and plants and landscapes. By showcasing wildlife diversity on private land and stimulating nature photography tourism as a source of revenue for private land conservation, the contest aims to improve and protect habitat for people and wildlife.
"The ultimate goal is to create a sustainable form of conservation," said Bob Petersen, vice-chair of the board of directors of Images for Conservation Fund, a participating landowner and a donor.
Images for Conservation seeks to create a nature photography industry in the hill country similar to that established in south Texas by the Valley Land Fund's annual wildlife photo contest which has been running since 1994.
Private land conservation is especially important in Texas, since more than 95 percent of the landscape is privately owned.
"By creating value for wildlife, and an income stream generated from the wildlife, the landowners will have motivation and financial means to maintain, protect and further enhance their habitat for the benefit of wildlife," Petersen said.
The 20 landowners were chosen in September from a larger than anticipated pool of 94 applicants. Photographers were announced in July of last year.
On March 18, a trade show and nature photography symposium with landowner and photographer tracks will be held at Texas Military Institute in San Antonio. Later that evening, teams will be randomly assigned and announced at a dinner at Gallagher Headquarters Ranch near Helotes.
During the month of April, the photographer and landowner teams will work together to produce their portfolios.
Traveling exhibits and a coffee table book with highlights of the contest's best work are also planned for later next year.
The judges will be Rosamund Kidman Cox (former editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine), Stephen B. Freligh (founder of Nature's Best, which promotes nature stewardship through photography) and Art Wolfe (renowned nature photographer).
Participating landowners are: Bob Ayres, Shield Ranch (Real/Travis County);David and Margaret Bamberger, the Selah Bamberger Ranch Preserve (Blanco County); Dayna Boren Cartwright, Mockingbird Canyon Ranch (Real County);David and Cynthia Castleberry, Peaceful Springs Nature Preserve (Burnet County);Kittie Nelson Ferguson, KKW Game & Cattle, LLC (Bexar, Medina and Bandera Counties); Kenneth Hicks, Flying A Ranch (Bandera and Medina Counties); Robert L. Hixon, Estrella Ranch (Uvalde County); Robert Earl and Kathleen Keen (Bandera County); Chuck and Sharon Knibbe, Knibbe Ranch (Comal County); John H. Kothmann (Kimble County); Gary and Gwen Krause (Real County); David K. Langford, Block Creek Natural Area (Kendall County); Michael A. Murphy, Los Madrones (Travis County); Kate Northrup, Northrup Ranch (Bandera, Kendall and Kerr Counties); Bob Petersen, Petersen Ranch (Kendall County); James and Colleen Reeves, Red Corral Ranch (Hays County); Richard and Josephine Smith, Stowers Ranch (Kerr County); Richard Welch, Headwaters Ranch (Gillespie and Kendall Counties); Kathryn McQuown Wendlandt, Annandale Ranch (Uvalde County); and Joye Wuest, Wuest Ranch (Comal County).
The photographers are:Tom Bean of Flagstaff, Arizona;Daniel J. Cox of Bozeman, Montana; Sean Fitzgerald of Dallas, Texas;Michael Francis of Billings, Montana;John Hendrickson of Clipper Mills, California;Cathy Illg of Lakewood, Colorado;Wolfgang Kaehler of Bellevue, Washington;Tom Leeson of Vancouver, Washington; George Lepp of Los Osos, California; Rolf Nussbaumer of Live Oak, Texas; Lynda Richardson of Richmond, Virginia; Bob Rozinski of Denver, Colorado; Florian Schulz of Wilhelmsdorf, Germany; Wendy Shattil of Denver, Colorado; Jozsef Szentpeteri of Debrecen, Hungary; Gary Vestal of Milwaukie, Oregon; Tom Walker of Denali Park, Alaska; Dave Welling of Canoga Park, California; Jeremy Woodhouse of McKinney, Texas; and Christian Ziegler of Vancouver, Canada.
The 19 central Texas counties (Bandera, Bexar, Blanco, Burnet, Comal, Edwards, Gillespie, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Llano, Mason, Medina, Real, Travis, Uvalde and Williamson) of the Hill Country region were chosen for this first event because it is "widely considered one of the gems of Texas," Petersen said.
"The Hill Country's diverse scenery, water and wildlife create an excellent backdrop for such a contest," Petersen added. "In addition, many of the communities are engaged in nature tourism and have the infrastructure to support this [nature photography] industry."
Organizers say that after the Hill Country event, the Pro-Tour will move to other regions in the state and ultimately spread across the nation. The competition is run by the nonprofit Images for Conservation Fund. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has endorsed the event and is serving as a technical advisor. The tour has also been endorsed by The Conservation Fund, Conservation International, Environmental Defense, Nature Conservancy, North American Nature Photography Association, Texas Travel Industry Association and Wildlife Habitat Council.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 11 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]
Nov. 21, 2005
TPWD Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Pursuit on the high seas. . . The crew of the TPWD law enforcement vessel, Captain Murchison, working with National Marine Fisheries Service agents, apprehended operators of a fishing vessel containing several thousand pounds of illegally harvested red snapper recently. The Captain Murchison chased the alleged poachers after dark for a long distance,while the alleged poachers were dumping fish overboard . The vessel was finally shut down and boarded and the Game Wardens discovered there were thousands of pounds of snapper remaining onboard. The fishing vessel carried a Class II commercial finfish license which allowed the harvest of 200 pounds of red snapper and was suspected of illegally harvesting red snapper and waiting until dark to land at a Texas dock. After searching Galveston Bay and adjacent waters, the Captain Murchison sighted the alleged vessel just before dark eight miles off the coast. Wardens confiscated more than 4,700 pounds of various fish species, mainly red snapper, and arrested the captain and crew on state charges.
Family court . . . On Nov. 7, Freestone County Game Wardens wrapped up an investigation into a group of hunters they had been watching since last year. All seven Dallas area subjects appeared in Justice of the Peace Court in Fairfield to answer charges they had killed several deer each and either tagged them with family member's tags or did not tag them at all. Three bucks illegally taken during the 2004 season were recovered by the court, including a 10-point that scored 150 3/8 that was tagged with the hunter's sister-in-law's tag. Charges of hunting under the license of another, allowing another to hunt under his/her license, untagged deer, no harvest log, and no hunter education were filed with fines totaling almost $5,000.
If the guide says no, he means NO! On Nov. 8, a Schleicher County Game Warden received a call from a landowner agent informing him that one of his hunting clients had taken a white-tailed buck without consent. Upon investigation it was determined the out-of-state hunter was being guided by the agent and wanted to shoot a buck they had seen. The guide opposed and told him repeatedly not to shoot the deer because it was not a mature buck. The hunter stated he did not care and he was going to shoot it anyway. When interviewed about the incident, the hunter stated he did not know why he shot the deer and offered to pay for it. The landowner was adamant about charges being filed, so the county attorney was contacted and the case reviewed. State jail felony charges of take wildlife resource, white-tailed deer, without consent of the landowner were filed. The subject was arrested, bond set, and placed in jail. Restitution on the 120-class buck is also pending.
The pot calling the kettle black . . . On Nov. 7, a Schleicher County Game Warden received a call from a ranch accusing lease hunters on an adjoining ranch of shooting a deer that had crossed the fence and refusing to retrieve the harvest. Upon investigation, it became very apparent the deer was shot where it was found and not on the adjoining ranch. The individual who heard the shots and found the deer was interviewed; it was determined that he had shot the deer and concocted the story to tell his friends and the landowner because he did not have a hunting license. Cases and restitution pending.
Not a happy reunion . . . On Oct. 16, a Travis County Warden apprehended five subjects dove hunting after sunset. One had an unplugged shotgun. While the warden was issuing the citations and confiscating the illegally harvested birds, one of the subjects said, "Hey, remember me? You arrested me last year on a fishing license warrant." That might not have been a good time to reminisce.
A sinking ship . . . Wardens filed multiple felonies on a marine dealer for allegedly cheating on sales taxes for high-end bass boats in the range of $20,000 - $40,000. After a few months would pass, one of the owners would title the boats for less than half of the actual sales price, keeping the difference in sales tax. This company has been flying under the radar with this tactic for nearly three years. Second degree felony charges were filed with the Dallas County D.A. due to the number of violations (153 were identified). The case was then referred to the Comptroller's office, which expected to collect over $100,000 in back taxes, fines and penalties.
Drive by shooting . . . On Oct. 23, a Val Verde County Game Warden filed 11 cases on four Houston residents for hunting dove over a baited area; hunting migratory birds (dove) from a motor vehicle and hunting quail in a closed season. The cases came about after the warden received information that a particular area might be baited. After locating the bait, the warden walked into the area and waited in the brush, where he soon heard the suspect vehicle and then observed the subjects shooting from the vehicle at dove and quail. He was able to follow the vehicle on foot and observe the suspects shoot several times before they stopped at a feeder full of maize. Cases and restitution pending.
How's the fishing? A complainant recently told game wardens about a man who was fishing and keeping undersized redfish. The actor apparently was relying on lookouts and would likely dump the evidence in the water if a game warden vehicle was spotted. A Corpus Christi game warden that was at the local constable's office when the call came in hitched a ride in the constable's unmarked orange Jeep and was able to drive right up to the actors without incident. As the warden exited the passenger side of the vehicle, a female sitting in a chair next to a gray bucket full of small fish uttered an expletive and proceeded toward the bucket. The warden got to the bucket first. A person wade fishing just out from the bucket immediately started yelling, "Those fish are all mine." As it turned out, the warden had cited this individual three years earlier for over- and undersized fish. After all was said and done, 19 undersize fish were seized, and the individual left with nine citations, and his companions accounted for three additional citations.
One too many . . . On Nov 10, a 47-year-old man with a long history of alcohol and drug abuse was convicted on a felony boating while intoxicated trial before a 12-member jury panel in the 71st District Court in Marshall. The defendant, who had two prior DWI convictions, faced charged stemming from an arrest for boating while intoxicated on Caddo Lake. The defendant was given five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine plus court costs.
It was that sixth shot that did it . . . On the night of Oct. 28, a Cameron County Warden and three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge officers ran a decoy deer operation on the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. At 11 p.m. a truck with two subjects approached the intersection where the decoy was deployed and fired six shots from a .22 rifle. After a short pursuit the truck was stopped. The two Port Isabel locals commented that they knew it was a decoy when on the sixth shot, the right antler was shot off and the deer continued to just "Look at them." State and federal refuge cases were filed.