|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-09-11                                    |
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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 ] [AR]
Sept. 11, 2006
Second Round of Public Meetings Slated for Spotted Seatrout Management in South Texas
BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries biologists will host a second round of public meetings in late September to discuss regional management options for the Lower Laguna Madre spotted seatrout fishery.
Meetings are slated for:
--September 25, Port Isabel Community Center, 213 Yturria Street, Port Isabel
--September 26, Harlingen Public Library, 410 '76 Drive, Harlingen
--September 27, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, Natural Resource Center, Room 1003, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi
--September 28, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Dickinson Marine Lab, 1502 FM 517 East, Dickinson
--September 28, Historical Center, 427 South 7th Street, Raymondville
All meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are open to anyone interested in spotted seatrout management.
The meetings will include a presentation of spotted seatrout trends in the Lower Laguna Madre, description of the regional management concept and information about various management options.
The management options being analyzed are various reductions in bag limit, increases in minimum size limit and combinations of these for the Lower Laguna Madre only.
The meetings will then be opened-up for comment and discussion.
A coast-wide spotted seatrout stock assessment completed by TPWD in April delivered mostly good news about the ever-popular game fish. Stocks overall are doing extremely well in Texas; however, in the Lower Laguna Madre, sampling data and models show a clear downward trend in relative abundance and spawning stock biomass of spotted seatrout.
The bay still boasts catch rates as high as or higher than any other bays on the Texas coast.
"This is not a fishery in crisis," said Randy Blankinship, TPWD ecosystem leader for the Lower Laguna Madre. "There is no danger of spotted seatrout stocks collapsing; it's more a question of reversing these trends and getting a high quality fishery back to the very high quality fishery we have historically known."
For more information about the meetings, call the TPWD Brownsville Field Station at (956) 350-4490.
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]
Sept. 11, 2006
Texas Bighorn Sheep Population Tops 800 Mark
AUSTIN, Texas -- Nearly a century ago, wildlife biologists estimated there were about 500 desert bighorn sheep in Texas. Half a century later there were none. Today there are more than 800 of these majestic animals in the state and counting.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists recently completed their annual desert bighorn sheep counts and report populations continue to expand and flourish after years of restoration efforts.
The desert bighorn sheep was once prominent in the remote mountains of West Texas, with populations of more than 1,500 animals in the late 1800s. Due largely to unregulated hunting, bighorn numbers dwindled to about 500, according to the survey conducted by Vernon Bailey in 1903.
Protective measures for bighorn sheep began as early as 1903 with the enactment of a hunting prohibition; however, changing land use caused numbers to decline to an estimated 35 sheep by 1945. The last reported sighting of a native bighorn sheep occurred in October 1958 on the Sierra Diablo Wildlife Management Area. Biologists believe the last native Texas bighorns were gone by the early 1960s.
Efforts to restore bighorns in Texas began in 1954 with the development of a cooperative agreement among state and federal wildlife agencies and private conservation groups. Through landowner and Texas Bighorn Society support, remote mountains in the Trans-Pecos have been enhanced to meet the basic needs of the desert bighorn, including construction of numerous man-made water guzzlers. These capture the area's limited rainfall to provide more reliable water sources for sheep and other wildlife.
The Texas Bighorn Society offers online visitors a chance to observe these animals in the wild via a satellite Web camera and a weather monitoring system near one of these "drinkers" atop Elephant Mountain. To view bighorns in action, go to http://www.texasbighornsociety.org/.
In addition to the conservation work by Texas Bighorn Society members, hunter funded initiatives such as the Big Time Texas Hunts, sheep permit auctions and the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration federal aid program have provided money for ongoing TPWD research and management efforts.
By conducting annual helicopter survey counts, TPWD biologists can ascertain not only how many animals are present, but also if there are surplus bighorn rams. The most recent survey documented 822 sheep.
This year's record sheep numbers will make possible a record 12 bighorn sheep hunting permits in Texas, well above the previous high of eight permits two seasons ago. Eight of the 12 Texas permits will be for sheep hunts on private land, illustrating how private land stewards are benefiting from the restoration effort.
"To anyone unfamiliar with the Texas bighorn sheep restoration program and big game hunting, the price tag for the right to hunt these magnificent animals may seem inflated," said Mike Berger, TPWD director of wildlife. "But it's the cause that fuels the bidding. These folks are investing in conservation."
Berger said the decision to offer the permits is based on evidence of additional surplus bighorn sheep observed during the annual aerial census surveys.
The rewards of the hunt aren't too shabby, either. Since 1988, when TPWD reinstated hunting for desert bighorns on an extremely conservative basis, more than 50 permits have been issued. More than half of the rams harvested in Texas have qualified for the Boone and Crockett Club's big game record book.

[ 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]
Sept. 11, 2006
Fall Workshop Aims to Help New Hunters Get Started
HELOTES, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has developed a first-of-its-kind workshop called "Hunt Texas: The Basics" designed to provide new hunters with the basic skills needed to successfully pursue a variety of Texas game species.
The workshop will take place from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sat., Sep. 16 at the Helotes 4-H Center, 12132 Leslie Rd. in Helotes. The workshop will also cover locating public and private hunting opportunities, firearm selection, hunter education requirements and the Texas Youth Hunting Program.
A catered lunch and field demonstrations will take place at nearby Government Canyon State Natural Area and will focus on camouflage, habitat evaluation, blind placement and field care of game. Registration is limited to the first 100 people.
The purpose of the workshop is to develop responsible and successful hunters who recognize the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation. It is designed for new hunters, hunters who have recently moved to Texas from other states, and people who have an interest in hunting but do not know where to start. This includes both youth and adult hunters.
Corporate Sponsors at this time include Cabela's, the Texas Wildlife Association, Dury's Gun Shop, DeerTexas.com and Gene Rees Wildlife Services. Door prizes from the sponsors will be awarded at the workshop.
To register, send your name, address, phone number, number of attendees and a check for $20 per adult or $10 for youth 16 and under to TPWD San Antonio Urban Wildlife Office, 12861 Galm Rd., San Antonio, TX 78254. Please make checks payable to Alamo Area Master Naturalists. Lunch and refreshments are included.
For more information please contact David Veale, TPWD Private Lands Biologist at (830) 424-3407 or Richard Heilbrun at the San Antonio TPWD Urban Wildlife Office at (210) 688-6444.