|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-04-24                                    |
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[ 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]
April 24, 2006
Urban Areas To Be Fishing Hotspots This Spring and Summer
AUSTIN, Texas -- Anglers in eight Texas cities will benefit from a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program that will stock catchable-size channel catfish in selected Community Fishing Lakes every two weeks during April, May, June, July, September and October.
TPWD stocks fingerling catfish in lakes and ponds all over Texas. The special stockings of adult, legal-to-catch fish are part of an urban fishing pilot program now in its fourth year. The primary objective is to create family fishing opportunities for urban Texans close to home.
Anglers are reminded that Community Fishing Lakes have special regulations for channel and blue catfish. The bag limit is five per day, and there is no minimum length regulation for catfish on these small lakes. The annual statewide Free Fishing Day (June 3) is a great opportunity for people thinking about getting into fishing to give these lakes a try.
Locations to be stocked:
--Amarillo-Medical Center South
--San Angelo-Oakes Street Park
--Wichita Falls-Plum Lake
--Duncanville-Lakeside Park
--Hurst-Chisholm Park
--Waco-Buena Vista Park
--College Station-Central Park Pond #1
--Katy-Mary Jo Peckham Park
2006 Stocking Dates (all dates are subject to change):
--April 20
--May 4 and 18
--June 1, 15 and 29
--July 13 and 27
--September 7 and 21
--October 5 and 19
--November 2

[ 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]
April 24, 2006
Fish and Commercial Netters Ignore U.S.-Mexico Border
Fisheries Management Difficult on International Reservoirs
AUSTIN, Texas --Managing a fishery and enforcing game laws along an international border are both complicated tasks. Combine the two and you have a nightmare for fisheries biologists and game wardens alike.
That's exactly the situation Texas Parks and Wildlife Department deals with every day on Falcon International Reservoir, an 83,000-acre impoundment on the Rio Grande River below Laredo.
Commercial fishers from Mexico may legally use highly efficient gill nets on the Mexican side of the lake, but their use is illegal in U.S. waters. The fish, of course, swim back and forth across the border at will.
TPWD game wardens recently conducted Operation Pescador in an effort to stop illegal commercial fishing on the Texas side of Falcon Reservoir. Game wardens seized 20 boats and 98,000 feet of gill nets in U.S. waters and arrested 28 Mexican commercial fishermen.
"We had some great results from Operation Pescador, but it's evident that we can only take care of our half of the lake," said TPWD game warden Captain Chris Huff, who headed the program. "We will probably continue to do this on occasion to keep the illegal commercial fishermen guessing."
The combination of legal and illegal gill netting and a decade-long drought appear to have harmed the white bass and crappie fisheries in Falcon Reservoir, prompting local citizens to request that TPWD aggressively stock these species into the lake to rebuild the populations.
Unfortunately, stocking fish into a lake where gill netting will continue will likely not be effective, says Bobby Farquhar, TPWD's regional director of Inland Fisheries.
"Stocking open-water fish into a lake with a high amount of both legal and illegal gillnetting would not be a wise use of our resources and would do nothing to improve the angling," Farquhar said. "All we would be doing is subsidizing the commercial netters. The only way for the open-water species to fully recover is for netting to be significantly reduced or eliminated on the whole lake."
Therein lies the dilemma for Texas game wardens.
"We have and will continue to work to deter illegal netters in Texas waters, but we have no control of Mexican waters," pointed out TPWD Executive Director Bob Cook.
"We will continue to work with the local community, our elected representatives and Mexican government officials to address this problem," said Col. Pete Flores, head of TPWD's Law Enforcement Division. "And we will continue to enforce the laws in Texas."
Fishing for largemouth bass and catfish in Falcon Reservoir remains outstanding. 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, especially largemouth bass. Fisheries biologists took advantage of this new habitat and stocked more than 1.2 million largemouth bass in Falcon. Largemouth bass are not as susceptible as white bass and crappie to gillnets.
According to creel surveys by TPWD Inland Fisheries biologists, Falcon anglers caught 33,164 largemouth bass and 7,173 catfish from January to March 2006. About half of the largemouth bass exceeded the 14-inch minimum size limit, and 90 percent of the catfish were legal harvest size.
Largemouth bass anglers are averaging an outstanding catch rate of nine fish per 8-hour fishing day with some fishing parties catching more than 50 fish per day. These catch rates are higher than any previously recorded at Falcon, and are higher than catch rates in the vast majority of other Texas lakes.
Given its location in a politically and environmentally sensitive area, Falcon International Reservoir will likely continue to pose management problems for both biologists and game wardens.
"Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is committed to making fishing in Texas waters the best it can be," said Inland Fisheries Division Director Phil Durocher. "International reservoirs like Falcon present us with a puzzle we don't have all the pieces for. Until both legal and illegal netting are reduced significantly or prohibited, it would be futile to spend time and our anglers' fishing license fees trying to maintain the white bass and crappie fisheries in Falcon."

[ 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]
April 24, 2006
Texas State Parks Damaged by Rita Making a Comeback
AUSTIN, Texas -- For the first time since Hurricane Rita ripped through east Texas last September, destroying much in its path and forcing several state parks to shut down, one site is welcoming campers again and another is planning to open soon.
Martin Dies Jr. State Park near Jasper welcomed back hundreds of visitors over the Easter holiday weekend after being closed for repairs, maintenance and cleanup for more than six months. A partial reopening of Village Creek State Park near Lumberton about 60 miles to the south is expected by summer.
The majority of campsites at Martin Dies Jr.'s Hen House Ridge unit, one of three park units on O. A. Steinhagen Reservoir, were occupied over the busy holiday weekend, according to park manager Dan Odom. The swimming beach, too, saw plenty of action.
Odom said 31 water-and-electric campsites, 19 screened shelters, a mini-cabin and 35 water-only campsites in the Hen House Ridge unit are available for overnight camping.
"We did about $6,000 worth of business over the Easter weekend," he said.
Much of the money for repairs thus far have come from the sale of timber salvaged from the park's numerous old growth pines and hardwoods felled by the hurricane-force winds and torrential rains. Odom estimates the state park lost about 30 percent of its timber and suffered $500,000 worth of damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to reimburse 75 percent of the cost to repair the park.
Hardest hit was the Walnut Unit just across U. S. Highway 190, where 75 water-and-electric sites remain unusable, 20 screen shelters were smashed and a mini-cabin was crushed by fallen timber. In all, Martin Dies Jr. State Park has 227 campsites. Odom said he hopes to have the Walnut Unit's group dining hall, boat ramp and fishing pier back in operation by May, though campsites will remain closed until repairs can be made.
For more information, contact Martin Dies Jr. State Park at (409) 384-5231.
At Village Creek State Park, park officials are shooting for a May 1 opening of 19 of its 25 water-and-electric campsites, as well as the children's playground, cabin, group picnic pavilion, 4 out of 15 picnic sites and 2 of its 8 miles of trails. The Customer Service Center in Austin (512-389-8900) is accepting camping reservations at Village Creek for June 1 and after.
"We were lucky structure-wise," said park manager Jerry Rashall, "but we lost about 50 percent of our trees. Three tornadoes touched down, one 25 yards from the park residence."
Rashall said he hopes to have the rest of the picnic area, the walk-in campground and remainder of the trails open before the end of the summer. For the latest information, contact the park at (409) 755-7322.
Farther south along the Gulf Coast, Sea Rim State Park and Sabine Pass State Historic Site, both of which suffered serious damage to their facilities, remain closed until funds for repairs can be identified, said Jerry Hopkins, director of state parks for southeast Texas.
Martin Dies Jr.'s Odom summed it up best for state parks in east Texas: "We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go."

[ 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]
April 24, 2006
Amistad Strikes Gold with Budweiser ShareLunker 400
Lake will be stocked with fingerlings with thoroughbred genes.
ATHENS, Texas -- Jason Baird hit the jackpot Feb. 28 when he caught Budweiser ShareLunker No. 400, a 13.1-pound largemouth bass worth $5,240 in cash.
Now the huge fish is paying dividends for everyone who fishes Lake Amistad. On April 18 ShareLunker 400 produced 46,678 eggs, the most produced by a ShareLunker in a single spawn in the program's 20-year history.
The fry from that spawn, along with the big fish herself, will be returned to Lake Amistad in a few weeks.
"This is an outstanding example of why the Budweiser ShareLunker program has been so successful in improving the genetics of largemouth bass in Texas reservoirs," said Allen Forshage, director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, home to the program. "In the wild, the fish would have spawned with an unpedigreed male. Here at TFFC, we pair the ShareLunker females with males that are themselves descendants of ShareLunkers on both the male and female sides. We are concentrating the genes that make these big fish special. The ultimate winners in this program are the anglers of Texas, who will be catching these genetically superior fish in the future."
Forshage also emphasized that returning ShareLunkers to the lakes where they were caught is an important part of the program. "Returning the fish to their home lakes gives other anglers a chance to catch them as well as allowing the fish to continue to spawn in the wild in the future," he said. "Plus, everything we know about genetics indicates that the offspring of the ShareLunkers have an increased probability of growing to a trophy size. Taking the big fish out of the lake temporarily allows us to improve the quality of fishing in that lake permanently."
In addition to the usual prizes of a Budweiser ShareLunker jacket and a fiberglass replica of the number 400 fish, Jason Baird will receive a cash award of $400 per pound of fish and a G.Loomis rod with Shimano reel valued at a total of $600. Prizes will be funded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Anheuser-Busch and G.Loomis.

[ 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]
April 24, 2006
Cross Plains Kids Endure Wildfires, Rally to Win Horned Lizard Essay Contest
CROSS PLAINS, Texas - The children at Cross Plains Elementary School managed to win this year's Hometown Horned Toads Essay Contest in spite of a great tragedy in their hometown. They began their research and interviews shortly before Christmas break, but during the holiday period wildfires destroyed numerous homes and businesses, including the home of their teacher, Connie Ricci.
In spite of this tremendous loss they were able to bring together their research and write papers that won the team category in Grades 3-5 and finished as runner-up in the team category in Grade 6-8. Ricci said that she and her students "feel doubly blessed that we managed to be successful in this endeavor at a particularly difficult time."
Once common across the state, numbers of Texas horned lizards have declined in recent decades. This prompted a creative group of state wildlife biologists to launch the student essay contest as one way to spread awareness of the official state reptile's plight, plus collect information that may help reverse the lizard's decline.
Participating students not only increase their knowledge of the horned lizard, but they help the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department gather information on when and how horned lizard populations began to diminish in these children's hometowns. Students conduct interviews with family, friends and local residents to find out personal stories, facts, and memories of the horned lizard in the local region.
The essays flowing in over the past five years have offered an array of explanations as to when and why the horned lizards are disappearing. The most common accounts state the horned lizard began declining in the 1970s and 80s due to urbanization, the introduction of the red fire ants, and pesticide use.
"Student interviews are extremely valuable because they not only provide information which can be used to help these reptiles recover, but they are often the only record of the horned lizard's presence in a specified area," said Lee Ann Linam, a TPWD biologist in Austin who helps coordinate the essay contest. "Researchers are then able to use this information for a more thorough analysis and understanding of the trends concerning the lizard population decline. With this improved understanding, steps can be taken to protect the lizard and conserve the habitat that is the key to its continued survival."
Essays are judged on various levels, including background research, a description of the study area, analysis of the interviews and research, organization, and most importantly, the number, thoroughness and creativity of the interviews. Essays are judged by outside volunteers and TPWD employees. Team winners are rewarded with a field trip of their choice to a TPWD wildlife management area, and individual winners receive prize packs, which include items to stimulate and assist the children's interest in nature. This year the winners will receive digital cameras, field guides, binoculars, and nature exploration kits.
The winners of the 2006 essay contest are:
Grades 3-5 Individual:
--1st place- Austin Fahy, Yeager Elementary
--2nd place- Haleigh Hurst, Yeager Elementary
--3rd place- Turner Warren, Pipe Creek Christian Elementary
Grades 3-5 Team: Cheyenne Cowan, Katharine Goode, Joe Holland, Riley Lawrence-Cross Plains Elementary
Grades 6-8 Individual:
--1st place- Ceren White, Leonard Middle School
--2nd place- Lauren McCollum, Lee Middle School
--3rd place- Courtney Trout
Grades 6-8 Team: Adam DeLoach, Gaby Dillard, Faith Dillard, Kayla Fisher, Katelyn Inkster, Kate Kainer, Renee Lavigne, Teddi Pinson, Audrea Sprinkle- Host Organization of South Texas
Grades 9-12 Individual:
--1st place- Advanced Wildlife Management Class- Childress High School
The Hometown Horned Toads Essay Contest was created as an extension of a program called Texas Horned Lizard Watch. This program consists of volunteers who monitor the horned lizard and compile scientific data concerning the reptiles' condition for TPWD. This program's research has produced much information pertaining to the horned lizard's distribution, and the identification of its habitat for the state of Texas.
Winning essays will be posted on the TPWD Web site. For more information about how to join Texas Horned lizard Watch for the 2006 monitoring season, visit the program Web page or call 1-800-792-1112.
On the Net:
Texas Horned Lizard Watch: http://tpwd.texas.gov/hornytoads/
Home Town Horned Toad Essay Contest: http://tpwd.texas.gov/htht/

[ 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 ]
April 24, 2006
Landowners Reminded Licenses Needed to Operate Hunting Leases
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would like to remind landowners that a hunting lease license is required for certain hunting operations, and that such lease licenses must be renewed each year. The owner of a hunting lease or the landowner's agent may not receive pay or anything of value from hunters unless the owner or agent has acquired a hunting lease license from the department. This law applies to all hunting leases.
There are three types of lease licenses: (1) hunting lease license; (2) hunting cooperative; and (3) wildlife management association. The license is required to be displayed on the hunting lease property.
The first type of license, the hunting lease license is for the total amount of property in a county owned by an individual, partnership, firm, or corporation. Lease licenses can be purchased at any location where Texas hunting or fishing licenses are sold. Or, licenses can be bought online with a credit card via the TPWD Web site. Fees are:
--less than 500 acres-$75
--between 500- 1,000 acres-$140
--1,000 acres or more-$240.
The second type of license, the hunting cooperative lease license, is for a cooperative enterprise in which participating landowners pool their acreage and lease it for hunting purposes under the authority of a hunting lease license and in which the leasing profits are distributed to the landowners, according to the landowners' participation. Cooperative lease licenses require landowners to complete an application, available only at TPWD law enforcement offices across the state and TPWD headquarters in Austin.
The fees for this license are:
--Less than 10,000 acres - $60 + $5 per participating landowner
--Between 10,000-50,000 acres- $120 + $5 per participating landowner
--More than 50,000 acres- $240 + $5 per participating landowner.
The third type of license is the wildlife management association area hunting lease license. This license also requires an application, available at law enforcement offices or TPWD headquarters. The department may designate two or more contiguous or proximate (a tract of land within one-half mile of another member tract) tracts of land as a wildlife management association area if:
1. each owner of the land applies for the designation;
2. the land is inhabited by wildlife;
3. the department determines that observing wildlife and collecting information about the wildlife will serve the purpose of wildlife management in the state; and
4. the landowners agree to provide the department with information regarding the wildlife under Section 81.302 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code.
The fees for licensing of this type of area are:
--Less than 10,000 acres-$36 plus $5 per participating landowner;
--Between 10,000 and 50,000 acres-$72 plus $5 per participating landowner;
--More than 50,000 acres-$144 plus $5 per participating landowner.
A hunting lease license is valid for the period from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31.
"A person who violates any provision of the hunting lease license requirements or who fails to comply with any provision of the hunting lease license requirements commits an offense that is a Class C Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor, which carries a fine of between $25-$500," said David Sinclair, chief of Wildlife Enforcement at TPWD.
For more information, call (512) 389-4854.
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]
April 24, 2006
Experts to Offer Advice on Urban Deer Overpopulation
SAN MARCOS, Texas -- In many Texas communities, too much of a good thing can be a problem. White-tailed deer are a prime example and helping local leaders and their constituents find solutions to wildlife overpopulation issues is the impetus for an upcoming workshop here May 18, 2006.
Leading authorities from across the country will be sharing advice on issues that arise when deer populations in urban areas escalate. Among the topics to be discussed during the day-long event include the impacts of overabundant deer populations to habitat, safety, economics and health.
Presenters will share knowledge and experience on what tactics have worked and do not work to correct deer overpopulation problems, ways to build consensus within the community on management plans and what tools are available to tackle the problem.
The event is a joint effort by The Nature Conservancy, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Wildlife Association, the Lower Colorado River Authority and Texas State University.
Registration information is available online or by contacting Helen Holdsworth at (210) 826-2904, ext. 120. Cost is $50 and includes all refreshments and lunch.
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 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Zoe Ann Stinchcomb, (903) 670-2238, zoeann.stinchcomb@tpwd.texas.gov ]
April 24, 2006
Participation in State-Fish Art Contest Skyrockets with TFFC Sponsorship
ATHENS, Texas -- Last year Lulu Fang of McAllen submitted the winning illustration and composition about the Texas state fish, the Guadalupe bass, in the grades 10-12 category of the State-Fish Art Contest.
On April 22 Fang learned that she had won again-but this time she had a lot more competition. After the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center became the state sponsor of the contest, participation increased more than 10-fold.
"We worked to get the word out to teachers through press releases, flyers and e-mails," said Zoe Ann Stinchcomb, education team leader at TFFC. "This contest is an excellent way to involve students in grades 4 through 12 in art and science."
Three winners are chosen-one for grades 4 through 6, one for grades 7 through 9 and one for grades 10 through 12. The winner for grades 4 through 6 was Anna McCaleb of Bulverde. Aleena Rogers of Midlothian was the winner for grades 7 through 9.
The contest is sponsored by Wildlife Forever, Rapala, The Art Institutes International Minnesota, Mall of America, the Minnesota Twins, the North American Fishing Club and Cheap Joe's Art Stuff.
Contest winners from all the states are invited to attend the State-Fish Art Expo July 29-30 at Mall of America in Minneapolis and will receive free entry to the July 30 Minnesota Twins game against the Detroit Tigers, where they will be honored at a pre-game ceremony.
Also at the July expo, the top three pieces of artwork in each grade category will receive "Best of Show" honors, and one will win the "Art of Conservation Stamp" Award and be reproduced as the 2006 State-Fish Art Conservation Stamp. Proceeds from sales of the stamp will be used to fund conservation education and aquatic restoration projects across America.
"The State-Fish Art Contest is a perfect fit for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center," said Allen Forshage, TFFC director. "This contest celebrates Texas's youth, aquatic resources and rich fishing tradition."
"We are pleased to partner with the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in using art to educate a new generation of conservationists," said Douglas H. Gramm, president and CEO of Wildlife Forever.
Located in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Wildlife Forever is a non-profit multi-species conservation organization dedicated to conserving America's wildlife heritage. Wildlife Forever has funded millions of dollars of conservation projects in all 50 states. For information on the organization and the contest, visit http://www.wildlifeforever.org/ and click on "State-Fish Art Contest" in the dropdown menu under "Programs."