|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-09-18                                    |
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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 ] [LH]
Sept. 18, 2006
Catfish CSI Reveals Cause of Famous Fish's Demise
ATHENS, Texas--Like thousands of other people, Dr. Andy Gluesenkamp, Ph.D., saw news photos of a world record blue catfish in the arms of the man who caught her in January 2004.
"I was blown away by such a huge fish," Dr. Gluesenkamp said of the 121.5-pound giant. Cody Mullennix of Howe, Texas, pulled the fish from Lake Texoma on January 16, 2004. While the fish is no longer the world record, it remains the record Texas blue catfish.
When he first saw Splash, as Mullennix named her, Dr. Gluesenkamp had no idea he would someday be involved in her story. But he works as a skeletal preparator for the Texas Natural Science Center (TNSC) in Austin, and after Splash died of unknown causes at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens in December 2005, her remains were sent to the Texas Natural History Collections, part of the TNSC, to be skeletonized.
In the course of his work, Dr. Gluesenkamp and his colleagues discovered the probable cause of Splash's death: severe damage to bone in her jaw area.
"It's hard to tell if the injury was a break that got infected, or if the bone became so infected it simply fell apart," Dr. Gluesenkamp said. "She sustained that injury a long time ago. The bone basically rotted away. I would not be surprised if that was where she took the hook, and bacteria got inside the bone. I'm not a fish veterinarian, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the injury was what killed the fish."
An examination of the bones by Dr. Dean Hendrickson, Ph.D., Curator of Ichthyology for TNSC, confirmed Gluesenkamp's suspicions. "Andy was definitely right. Splash clearly had a nasty infection that had been festering for some time," Dr. Hendrickson said.
Dr. Hendrickson's analysis showed that the damage occurred in an area where two bones join. "This area is called the hyoid arch and is between the lower jaw and the gills," he explained. "The arch is involved in creating the pumping action that keeps water flowing over the gills and the strong suction used for predatory feeding. Infection from the injury apparently penetrated the bone and consumed it. At some point blood loss would have been extensive. While we don't know for certain that the initial injury was due to being hooked, that seems to be the most likely explanation."
Presently Dr. Gluesenkamp and Jessica Rosales, Ichthyology Collection Manager for the Texas Natural History Collections, are working to prepare Splash's skeleton for display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
Following hand removal of as much flesh as possible from the bones, the skeleton was placed in plastic tubs with larvae from dermestid beetles. These flesh-eating insects, which are also found on the floor of bat caves, are the most effective way of removing all the flesh from a skeleton. "Splash probably has 5,000 to 10,000 beetles on her right now," Dr. Gluesenkamp said. "We've never worked on a fish this large. We had to delay the start of work until we built up our beetle colony to be sure we had enough to do the job."
Once Dr. Gluesenkamp and the beetles finish their work, Rosales will rearticulate the skeleton--put it back together with hot glue, posed in a lifelike position. "It takes time, patience and modeling clay in addition to lots of hot glue," Dr. Gluesenkamp said. "I estimate it may take a week of painstaking work to put the skeleton back together."
"It will take time, but the process is fun and is something that I really enjoy doing," said Rosales.
"Splash had such an impact on TFFC," said Allen Forshage, director of the East Texas facility. "Her first year here she increased our visitation by 43 percent. She was an amazing fish to look at. She would look at you eye-to-eye from her home in the dive tank. Her death saddened everyone here at the center, plus we had inquiries from around the country about her death. The findings about the hooking injury helped us understand why she died so quickly after we moved her in December 2005 because of repair work on the dive tank. We are going to add a new display which will have her replica (done by Lake Fork Taxidermy) and a really unusual display of her skeleton, thanks to the work now being done at the Texas Natural Science Center."
Dr. Gluesenkamp said working on Splash has been the highlight of his career. "I have to say it's been really exciting. I saw photos of that fish in the arms of the man who caught her, and to be involved with that fish two years later is a joy. I am really thankful to be able to work on a fish with celebrity status. Splash: Everyone knows her name."

[ 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. 18, 2006
Enroll in Hunter Education Course Before the Season
AUSTIN, Texas -- Despite offering 4,400 hunter education courses throughout the year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department understands there are some who will still wait until the last minute before hunting season to get certified. This fall, those procrastinators need not panic.
"There are still more than 220 structured courses scheduled across the state between now and Nov. 3, the last day before the opening of deer season," said Terry Erwin, hunter education coordinator for TPWD. "And there are over 80 home-study courses available, but all of these courses are subject to change as they fill up daily. It may be tough getting into a course before deer season."
That's where TPWD's hunter education deferral option can help. The deferral option, which was introduced two years ago, allows people 17 years of age or older, a one-time only extension to complete the state's hunter education requirements. The individual must purchase a hunting license and then may purchase the "Deferral Option # 166, and must be accompanied by someone 17 years old or older who is also licensed to hunt in Texas.
The accompanying individual must have completed hunter education or be exempt from the requirements (born before Sept. 2, 1971). The extension is good from date of purchase until Aug. 31 of the current license year, by which time the person with the deferred option needs to complete a hunter education course.
This option will not be available to those who have ever received a conviction or deferred adjudication for lack of hunter education certification. They still must take the course before going afield.
The deferred option costs $10 and may be offered one-time only. The new hunter also receives a $5 discount off the price of a hunter education course, which costs $15, but only if the course is taken prior to the end of the current license year. The option is surrendered at the time the course is taken and replaced with a hunter education "temporary card" until the actual certification card arrives from Austin.
The deferred option will also be available to out-of-state hunters, as well as those in the military who are stationed in Texas or who are home on leave. However, the deferral is only good in Texas, and will not be honored outside the state.
"People who are off in college out of state are helped by this program," said Erwin. "I talked to one mom who was concerned her son would not have time to take the course when he came home from college during the holidays and wouldn't be able to go hunting with his dad. She got the deferred option as insurance."
According to TPWD game warden records, the most common citation written is for hunter education certification violations.
Texas certifies more than 33,000 hunters annually through 4,400 hunter education courses offered across the state, with at least one offered in each of the 254 counties. Hunter Education courses are a minimum of 10 hours of classroom and hands-on activities. The classroom portion can alternatively be taken through home study or online, followed by a hands-on, outdoor session taught by volunteer instructors.
"Although we offer the course throughout the year, there are times during the holidays when only a select number of courses may be available and that's typically the time of year when most people have an opportunity to go hunting," said Erwin. "This deferred option will give folks time and convenience to enroll at a later date and still take advantage of an opportunity to go hunting."
During the last four decades, hunting-related accidents have declined by more than half and the credit goes to mandatory hunter education.
If anyone is interested in becoming an instructor or for more information about hunter education and the new deferred option, call TPWD toll free (800) 792-1112 or visit the Web site (http://tpwd.texas.gov/learning/hunter_education).

[ 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. 18, 2006
Texas Big Time Hunts Offer Premier Opportunities
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Lone Star State boasts some of the finest hunting anywhere in the country, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Big Time Texas Hunts offer hunters a chance to experience the best of the best.
The Big Time Texas Hunts program offers the opportunity to win one or more top guided hunts with food and lodging provided, as well as taxidermy in some cases. The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas' most prized big game animals - the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. There are several quality whitetail hunt packages available, as well as opportunities to pursue alligator, exotic big game, waterfowl and upland game birds.
Entries for the Big Time Texas Hunt drawings are $10 each and are available wherever hunting licenses are sold. They may also be purchased online for the first time at (http://tpwd.texas.gov/dreamhunts/) or by phone (800) 895-4248. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase, and entries may be purchased as gifts for others. Purchasers must be 17 years of age or older.
Proceeds from the Big Time Texas Hunts are dedicated to providing more public hunting opportunity and to funding wildlife conservation and research programs in Texas. Last year, more than 75,000 entries were received.
Here's a summary of the Big Time Texas Hunts offerings:
--The Texas Grand Slam -- This is truly the hunt of a lifetime. The bighorn sheep hunt is very exclusive; TPWD only issues a handful of permits a year. The bighorn sheep hunt takes place on Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, just outside of Alpine, in far West Texas. The other three hunts included in the Texas Grand Slam will be on some of the most exclusive private ranches in the state. The winner may also bring along a non-hunting companion to share in this awesome outdoor adventure.
--Texas Whitetail Bonanza -- 10 winners will each get to experience a high-quality white-tailed deer hunt, something legendary to Texas on popular ranches known to produce big bucks (150 Boone and Crockett scores). Guide service, food and lodging are provided on these 3-5-day trips during hunting season. Each winner can also bring along a companion to hunt as well.
--Texas Gator Hunt -- One winner and a guest will enjoy a rare and unique three-day trip pursuing alligators at the J. D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area on the Gulf Coast. Both hunters may harvest one alligator. All necessary equipment, expert guides, lodging and gator hide removal are included. The winner and guest will also be treated to an airboat tour of the marsh to view alligators.
--Texas Waterfowl Adventure -- One winner and as many as three invited guests will win a series of three exciting waterfowl adventures. The hunts are located on some of the best waterfowl areas in Texas. Trips include a Coastal Prairies guided hunt for snows, blues and white-fronted geese; a guided duck hunt in the Coastal Marshes; and an East Texas hunt for wood ducks and mallards.
--Texas Exotic Safari -- Two winners will experience the thrill of hunting African exotic game right here in Texas on the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area in the Texas Hill Country. Each winner can take two exotic species, including waterbuck, gemsbok, scimitar-horned oryx, impala, Thomson's gazelle and common waterbuck. Hunters may choose to shoot modern rifle, muzzleloader, archery or crossbow. Winners can also bring along a companion to hunt a management exotic. Food and lodging will be provided at the scenic Mason Mountain WMA lodge. Taxidermy service will be provided for the two winners. Proceeds go to benefit wildlife conservation and research on Mason Mountain WMA.
--Texas Big Time Bird Hunt -- One winner along with as many as three hunting buddies will enjoy a unique package of upland game bird hunts: two days of quail, two days of pheasant hunting in the Panhandle and two afternoons of dove hunting. There will also be a two-day guided spring turkey hunt for two included in the package. Food, guide service and lodging are included on all bird hunts, and pointing dogs are provided for quail and pheasant hunts.
--Texas Premium Buck Hunt -- This is the ultimate deer hunting experience--an opportunity to harvest a trophy white-tailed buck (160 Boone and Crockett score) in the rugged South Texas brush country. One winner and a guest will enjoy the finest deer hunting trip that Texas can offer. Professional guide service, food and high quality accommodations are included to provide each hunter comfort as well as great hunting.
The deadline to apply for this year's Big Time Texas Hunts is Nov. 1. Winners will be announced later in November.

[ 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]
Sept. 18, 2006
New Fish Records Web Site a Feast for Trivia Lovers
ATHENS, Texas -- Quick -- what is a Hawaiian sling, and for what purpose did Robert Horrigan use one in the San Marcos River on April 10, 1989?
The answer to that question (and many others you never thought of) can be found in the newly revamped fish record pages of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's web site.
"We've replaced the old lists with a searchable database," says Joedy Gray, coordinator of the Angler Recognition Program. "It's now possible to select a lake, river or bay and get all water body records for that location on one page."
Fly fishing records are now listed along with other rod and reel records, but you can still search for fly fishing records only.
To make the site even more user-friendly, links to award categories, submission guidelines, locations of certified scales and selected photos are in a handy sidebar on the search page.
In addition to records by weight by method of take--rod and reel, bowfishing and other legal means--the site also includes a new category, state catch and release records. Fish entered into this category must be released alive after having their length recorded. That leads to a couple of bits of information practically guaranteed to make trivia lovers quiver with delight.
To wit: The catch and release record for largemouth bass, 26.13 inches, ties the length of the fish ranking number 24 by length on the list of top 50 largemouth bass. And the catch and release record for smallmouth bass, 22.75 inches, ties the length of the fish ranking--you guessed it--number 24 by length on the list of top 50 smallmouth bass.
What other obscure fishy facts lurk in the lists? Find out by going to tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords and beginning your search. There you'll find all the information you'll need to perhaps add your name to one of the lists.
And what is a Hawaiian sling, and what did Robert Horrigan do with it?
It's a type of spear gun, and he took the state freshwater record American eel with it. It's on the page titled "State Freshwater Records: Other Methods."
Now you know.

[ 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. 18, 2006
New Web Application Gives Anglers Insight Into Potential Success by Bay
AUSTIN, Texas -- When two or more anglers meet just about anywhere in the world, it's a sure bet one of the first things out of one of their mouths goes something like this: "Doing any good?" Texas anglers now have a new tool to help answer that age-old question.
It's called the "Catch Rate by Minor Bay Web Application," and was created by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's coastal fisheries division and Geographic Information Systems lab with funding from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grant.
"This provides a way for the public to easily access summary data and to be able to evaluate different success rates for different species on different bays," said Kim Ludeke, Ph.D., TPWD GIS lab manager. "You can also see how success rates have changed over times."
The application covers every bay system in Texas, and shows some of the most popular boat ramps and access points on each bay.
The application allows users to query by a fish species and year to see what bays have high, medium, and low catch rates. Alternatively, users can query for a particular bay and year to see what fish species they are likely to catch.
Catch rates are classified into high, medium or low based on monofilament gill net surveys conducted seasonally since 1981 by the Coastal Fisheries division.
While users won't be able to see what's biting now, or how fishing was last week, they can get a good idea of which species historically have been most abundant in a particular bay, and how that body of water compares to others on the coast.
"Our 30-year database is widely acknowledged as one of the best in the world, and this is one way we can make that data available to our constituents," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., director of TPWD's coastal fisheries division.
The application includes an extensive "Frequently Asked Questions" section to help users navigate its menus, and query results are printable.
On the Net: