|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2006-11-13                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 10 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]
Nov. 13, 2006
Improved Red Tide Response Tracks Decline of Texas Bloom
AUSTIN, Texas -- A red tide event that lingered along the coastal bend for nearly a month appears to have largely subsided, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife officials.
Water samples taken in the Corpus Christi and Port Aransas areas have shown decreasing concentrations of the red tide alga since mid-October, and there have been no reports of fish kills or respiratory irritation for over three weeks. All the Gulf beaches appear to be free of red tide.
This year's red tide, which is a high concentration (or bloom) of an alga called Karenia brevis, first showed up near San Jose Island, causing fish kills along the island, as well as along the Corpus Christi Ship Channel and at Cedar Bayou. It first began spreading north along both sides of Matagorda Island but then was pushed south to Mustang and Padre Islands, all the while lingering in portions of Corpus Christi, Aransas and Redfish bays. At one point the bloom was visible at the north Port Mansfield jetty, but it never did spread further south.
Dead fish as a result of the red tide numbered into the millions, but game fish made up less than 5 percent of the total. The majority of the fish killed were forage fish, including Gulf menhaden, Gulf whiting, Atlantic bumper, and mullet. Biologists do not expect the bloom to have a lasting impact on fish populations.
This red tide was fairly typical of previous Texas blooms, which tend to begin in late summer or early fall and can last for weeks to months. Though it is not clear what factors cause red tides, it is known that they are a natural occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico.
The state's response to the red tide was enhanced by a twice-weekly bulletin from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which provided satellite images showing the location of red tide and forecasting where it might impact the coast.
University and state agency scientists, as well as volunteers, played an important role in finding out where red tide was occurring, where it was absent and whether it was increasing or declining.
The volunteer Red Tide Rangers in South Padre Island regularly collected water samples south of Port Mansfield as an early warning system; fortunately the red tide never impacted that area. Texas A&M University-Galveston and Texas State Department of Health Services scientists sampled portions of the upper coast showing red tide was absent from Matagorda Bay up to Galveston. University of Texas Marine Science Institute researchers tracked red tide in the Port Aransas area on a daily basis and communicated their results as the red tide was blooming and later disappearing.
Filter-feeding shellfish, such as oysters, clams, whelks and mussels, accumulate the red tide toxin in their tissues, where it can remain for weeks after a red tide has ended. The toxin, which is not destroyed by the cooking process, causes a type of food poisoning called neurotoxic shellfish poisoning.
For this reason, shellfish harvesting season is delayed in parts of San Antonio Bay and all of Mesquite, St. Charles, Aransas, Copano and Corpus Christi bays. Information about shellfish closures can be obtained by contacting the Seafood and Aquatic Life group of the Texas Department of State Health Services at (800) 685-0361.

[ Note: This item is more than 10 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]
[ Additional Contacts: Remekca Owens, Fort Worth Zoo Communications Manager, (817) 759-7360 ]
Nov. 13, 2006
Wildlife Conservationists Partner To Restore Bald Eagle Nest
Collapsed bald eagle nest in Dallam County needed rebuilding
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Wednesday, a bald eagle nest located in the northern Texas Panhandle received a much needed restoration thanks to a statewide partnership of university and state wildlife experts and zoos. The group partnered to build an artificial nest and perch for a pair of bald eagles that has made the area home for the past several years. Biologists feared that if the nest was not restored, the eagle pair, which mates for life, would lose this nesting habitat.
The nest was discovered in 2004 by Texas Tech University Research Biologist and Associate Professor Dr. Clint Boal. Since then, the two adult eagles have produced five eaglets. The tree holding the nest slowly deteriorated, and was found collapsed in October.
The new artificial nest was constructed in early November at the Fort Worth Zoo, and the poles donated by Xcel Energy were erected Wednesday to provide support and additional perching. The partnership also includes Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Abilene Zoo, Texas Tech University and Amarillo Zoo. The project was completed just in time for the eagles to nest this winter.
Partly due to loss of habitat and the negative effects of DDT, bald eagles were listed as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. They are also protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Currently, bald eagles are listed as a threatened species both federally and in Texas.
Based on an increase in overall population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reopened public comment proposing the removal of the bald eagle from the federal list of threatened or endangered species.
Available video: Video includes footage of project partners erecting the telephone poles and placing the artificial nest. Video also includes raw footage of Texas adult bald eagles and eaglets nesting. Note: these eagles are not the eagles located in Dallam County.

[ Note: This item is more than 10 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. 13, 2006
Texas, DU Mark 20 Years of Waterfowl Conservation
SASKATCHEWAN, Canada -- On an early Autumn day in September 2003, the sky was a beautiful clear blue above the red-gold landscape and the ducks were calling on a wetland-splashed patch of rolling prairie in central Canada. It's a place that illustrates the connections between Canada and Texas, between good habitat and good hunting, one fruit of a success story fueled by hunter dollars that goes back two decades.
Dave Kostersky of Ducks Unlimited Canada stepped out of his truck into a brisk wind that day and looked out to see hundreds of birds, mostly mallards, milling around, loafing in the mid-day, resting up before heading out to feed in nearby fields. Dave is DU's manager of state grants for Western Canada. Much of the time he's in an office writing funding proposals and reports, but this day he was looking at 640 beautiful acres DU had just bought with funding support from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and numerous other state partners. In a few months, the birds here and millions more like them would be headed to Texas for the winter.
Last week another DU rep stood in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission hearing room in Austin, talking about 20 years of conservation achievements under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) from 1986-2006.
Signed by the United States and Canada in 1986, the plan recognized that loss of habitat, especially on the breeding grounds, was the most serious threat facing North America's waterfowl, and that habitat conservation had to extend beyond protected areas to include vast areas of privately owned and managed lands. Mexico joined the plan in 1994, making it a continental effort.
"Some recent estimates say our country is still losing more than 80,000 acres of wetlands per year," said Ross Melinchuk, director of public policy for DU's southern regional office. "We're still losing habitat in Canada and Texas, so we need to continue what we've been doing and accelerate it if we can. On the positive side, we've accomplished a lot in the 20 years since the waterfowl plan was signed. Texas Parks and Wildlife has been a stalwart partner in this international conservation effort since the get-go."
Melinchuk told commissioners that since 1985, TPWD has anted up $1.4 million in support of Canadian conservation under the NAWMP. This goes to various efforts, all aimed at putting waterfowl habitat on the landscape, everything from buying land like Kostersky's 640 acres to securing easements from farmers to building water control structures to create or sustain wetlands.
All of this Texas funding has come from hunters buying waterfowl stamps (now the new migratory game bird stamp, introduced last season). Texas funds are matched with funds from other state and NGO partners, and with North American Wetland Conservation Act grants to help restore and protect the duck landscape.
Based on bands put on ducks by researchers and reported by hunters, biologists know that about 37 percent of the ducks that winter in Texas come from Saskatchewan, more than any other Canadian province. About 19 percent come from Alberta, and others come from Manitoba, the Dakotas and Iowa. Scientists say this shows it makes sense for Texas to spend money on Canadian habitat conservation.
"Almost every Central Flyway state contributes to this program annually because we all realize this is a wise expenditure so our sportsmen can have liberal and enjoyable seasons and bag limits each year," said Vernon Bevill, TPWD Small Game and Habitat Assessment Program director. "Without the NAWMP put in place over 20 years, we probably wouldn't be bragging about this. We've had several record years of production for waterfowl in Canada. If Mother Nature provides some weather to move some ducks around, we're looking at a pretty good season in Texas."
Waterfowl seasons just started in Texas. The first split of the general duck season in the North and South Zones runs Nov. 4-26 and reopens Dec. 9 through Jan. 28. In the Panhandle's High Plains Mallard Management Unit, duck season is set for Nov. 3 through Jan. 28.
Banding studies show species that breed in Canada in the summer and winter in Texas include mostly mallards, plus significant numbers of blue-winged teal, northern pintails, gadwall, widgeon, and others.
Texas money to conserve northern habitat for these birds is matched and leveraged many times over by other partners. The $100,000 provided by TPWD in 2006 for Saskatchewan conservation was matched with $100,000 from DU and $200,000 in federal funding under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, plus a whopping $1.7 million from other U.S. and Canadian partners, totaling more than $2 million. This means a 2006 Texas dollar spent on Saskatchewan conservation is matched 20 to one by the time it hits the ground.
Here in Texas, DU has provided more than $10 million to conserve 161,330 acres of habitat in partnership with TPWD since the waterfowl plan was created in 1986.
More on the history and importance of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan is on the Web.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than 10 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]
Nov. 13, 2006
Coastal Expos Set for Killeen, Kingsville, Victoria, Valley
KILLEEN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will host five upcoming Coastal Expos for the public, starting with events in Killeen Nov. 10-11 and Kingsville Nov. 16-18. Similar expos will take place Feb. 3 in Victoria, Feb. 10 in Harlingen and Feb. 22-24 in Edinburg.
Coastal Expos are free and open to the general public, although if they're part of a larger event that event may charge admission.
The Killeen expo will take place at the Special Events Center on Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Another expo will take place on Nov. 16-18 in conjunction with the South Texas Wildlife & Birding Festival in Kingsville at the First United Methodist Church Community Life Center.
Coastal Expos are fun, family-oriented events where visitors interact with live crabs, fish, and other coastal animals while learning about freshwater inflows, coastal conservation issues and beach habitats.
Activities include touch tanks with a wide variety of live coastal animals such as sea urchins, sea squirts, crabs, and other sea life. At the glass-bottom stream, visitors will learn about animals' natural habitats and how bugs can indicate pollution levels in water.
Participants will also have an opportunity to solve a mysterious fish kill, paint images of coastal fish, identify beach objects by touch, and learn about fishing, boating safety, and other coastal issues through a variety of fun and educational devices.
Other Coastal Expos for next year include:
--February 3 in conjunction with Man to Man Family Outdoor Expo in Victoria.
--February 10 in conjunction with Ocelot Festival in Harlingen.
--February 22-24 in conjunction with Fiesta Edinburg in Edinburg.
For more information or to volunteer for any of these events contact Kris Shipman at (512) 912-7037 or Kris.Shipman@tpwd.texas.gov. No previous experience is necessary. Volunteers can be taught everything needed at the event.

[ Note: This item is more than 10 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]
[ Additional Contacts: Geary Schindel, (210) 326-1576, gschindel@mindspring.com ]
Nov. 13, 2006
Scientists Mapping Texas Cave With Lasers
Laser Technology Will Create a 3-Dimensonal Map of Devil's Sinkhole
AUSTIN, Texas -- State-of-the-art mapping equipment will be used at Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area during the next three months to produce what is believed to be the most detailed map and pictures ever produced on an entire cave.
The remapping project at Devil's Sinkhole near Rocksprings, Texas, is being done by the Texas Cave Management Association, in cooperation with the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Devil's Sinkhole is the third deepest cave in Texas, the largest single-chambered cavern in the state and home to more than 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats.
Scientists began mapping the Devil's Sinkhole using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) mapping techniques this past weekend, Nov. 11-12. Mapping also will take place Dec. 2-3 and January 6-7.
The three-dimensional map produced by the LiDAR process will be used as an educational, as well as a management, tool and will produce a map with centimeter accuracy. Unlike most maps, this LiDAR map will be linked to digital photographs creating an unprecedented three-dimensional virtual view of the cave.
"Essentially the end result will give the most detailed 3D map of the interior of the Devil's Sinkhole ever, overlaid with color photographs to give anyone viewing the end data a realistic view of the sinkhole," said Randy Rosales, superintendent of Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area. "The survey will provide us with a very effective educational tool, as well as a tool for helping study the geology of the cave and its inhabitants."
Rosales said the LiDAR image will present help the public understand the size and significance of the Devil's Sinkhole without having to enter the cave, which is possible only through rappelling. The map will also provide TPWD personnel with the ability to measure areas of the bat roosts and calculate the bat population; determine the volume of the cave and the level of the water table; and to perform detailed geologic analyses.
Devil's Sinkhole was formed from the collapse of an immense natural chamber located within the Edwards limestone in Edwards County. The collapse formed a large vertical shaft 145 feet deep and approximately 40 by 60 feet in diameter at the surface. The bottom of the shaft intersects the top of a large rock debris cone.
The cone extends to a total depth of 350 feet beneath the surface. From the surface, only the top of the debris pile is clearly visible and the large chamber is hidden from view by overhanging rock ledges.
For more information about this project, please contact Geary Schindel with the Texas Cave Management Association at (210) 326-1576 or Mike Knezek or Randy Rosales with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (830) 563-2342 or (830) 563-5807.