|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-09-10                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than nine 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]
Sept. 10, 2007
Halloween Comes Early to Lake Tawakoni State Park
WILLS POINT, Texas -- A massive spider web first spotted covering several acres of oak-elm woodlands along a Lake Tawakoni State Park trail in early August and later reported in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story on Aug. 29 made national and international headlines throughout the Labor Day Weekend.
An arachnaphobe's worst nightmare, the gauzy, insect-laden web drew more than 3,300 curious visitors over the three-day holiday to this 376-acre park on the shore of Lake Tawakoni, 50 miles east of Dallas. On Labor Day, the park recorded 1,275 people visiting just to see the web.
"When I first saw it," said Park Superintendent Donna Garde, "I was totally amazed. What ran through my mind was that this looked like something out of a low-budget horror movie, but I was looking at something five times as big as what you'd see on a Hollywood set."
Stumped as to the web's origin, the initial consensus of arachnologists and entomologists who saw an online photo of the web sent by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Mike Quinn was that it may have resulted from a "mass dispersal" event. In such an event, millions of tiny spiders or spiderlings spin out silk filaments to ride air currents in a phenomenon known as "ballooning."
Quinn collected a sample of spiders Aug. 31 from in and around the gigantic web and took them to Texas A&M University in College Station for analyses. Entomology Department researcher Allen Dean identified 11 spider families from the sample. The most prevalent species was the Tetragnatha guatemalensis, or what Quinn dubbed the Guatemalan long-jawed spider, since this species didn't have a common name. Guatemala was the country in which it was first documented.
"I drove 50 to 100 spiders to A&M on Saturday," Quinn said. "Spider experts tend to specialize in one or few families of spiders. There are nearly 900 species of spiders known from Texas, so no one is an expert on all the species."
Quinn described the Lake Tawakoni web as "sheet webbing" since it covers a large area of trees, which is more typical of a web spun by a funnel web spider rather than the classic Charlotte's web, or orb web, like that produced by long-jawed spiders. He speculates that the park's spider population exploded due to wet conditions this summer that resulted in an abundance of midges and other a small insects upon which the spiders feed.
The Guatemalan long-jawed spider ranges from Canada to Panama, and even the islands of the Caribbean. According to Quinn, the spider is about an inch in length with a reddish-orange head- and-thorax. Spiders, like mites and scorpions, are arachnids, a group of arthropods with four pairs of legs, saclike lungs and a body divided into two segments.
So popular was the monster Lake Tawakoni spider web phenomenon that it ran as the lead story in the Nation section of the Aug. 31 New York Times, and was the newspaper's most e-mailed article that day. The nightmarish quality of the story prompted satirical takes on several Internet Web sites and led to national coverage on Fox News, the Discovery Channel, CNN and other networks. Quinn termed the degree of news coverage "remarkable."
Dr. Norman Horner, a retired dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, was on his way to the park mid-week to study the "not very common" phenomenon, when he received a call from park staff telling him that a heavy overnight rainstorm had made the trail impassable and knocked down much of the giant web.
"So far," Horner said, "we have been informed of webs of this nature occurring in Florida, California, Canada, Italy, Ohio and now Texas. In all cases, they appear to have been produced by tetragnathids, but have other species associated with them."
Superintendent Garde said Sept. 5 that the crowds coming to see the wondrous creation had slowed to a trickle, and that they were not being allowed to access the nature trail due to the sloppy conditions.
"It was fun, but we were really tired," Garde said. "The spiders are great little guys. They put our park on the map."
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than nine 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. 10, 2007
TPWD To Hold Hearings for Local Grants Program
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Recreation Grants Program has scheduled a round of public hearings to present information about and solicit input on the local park grant program.
The program includes Outdoor Grants, Indoor Grants, Small Community Grants, Regional Grants, Community Grants, Regional Grants, Community Outdoor Outreach Program Grants, Recreational Trails Grants and Boating Access Grants.
"We're going to talk about existing programs, deadlines and what the programs do," said Tim Hogsett, TPWD's recreation grants director. "We also want to know whether people like the current deadlines and amounts they can apply for, and in particular the scoring systems -- the criteria we use to evaluate projects and make recommendations to the TPW Commission."
Grants are generally awarded twice a year, typically on a matching basis, and different grant programs are funded by state and federal sporting goods and gasoline taxes. In August 2006, TPW awarded more than $4 million in grant funding for local parks across the state.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department administers the Recreation and Parks Account program and uses a priority scoring system to determine which projects are eligible to receive matching grant funds for recreational projects. For more information on local park grants, call the Recreation Grants division of Texas Parks and Wildlife at (512) 912-7124 or e-mail rec.grants@tpwd.texas.gov.
Local governments such as cities, counties, municipal utility districts and water districts depend on these grants to develop public outdoor recreation facilities for playgrounds, sports, trails, hunting, fishing, aquatic activities, camping and beautification.
Local governments such as cities, counties, municipal utility districts and water districts depend on these grants to develop public outdoor recreation facilities for playgrounds, sports, trails, hunting, fishing, aquatic activities, camping and beautification.
Hearings are scheduled for 9:00 am-noon at these locations:
--Sept. 11, 2007, Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept., Commissioner's Hearing Room. 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744, 512-912-7124. In addition there will be a live audio broadcast available on the web for the Sept. 11, 2007 meeting.
--Sept. 13, 2007, Arlington Convention Center, 1200 Ballpark Way, Arlington, TX 76011, (817) 459-5000.
--Sept. 18, 2007, Sherwood Community Center, 4819 N. Everglade Avenue, Odessa, TX 79762, (432) 368-3548.
--Sept. 20, 2007, Community Associations of The Woodlands, 2201 Lake Woodlands Dr., The Woodlands, TX 77380, (281) 210-3800.
--Sept. 25, 2007, Harlingen Public Library Auditorium, 410 '76 Drive (6th St.), Harlingen, TX 78550, (956) 430-6650.
On the Net:

[ Note: This item is more than nine 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. 10, 2007
Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
The case for not running
On Aug. 26, Harrison Co. two game wardens were patrolling the Sabine River in Gregg Co. when one warden decided to check two subjects stuck in a van beside the river. The game wardens became suspicious, so the game warden decided to check the individuals out through Gregg Co. Sheriff's Office. After completing criminal history, one of the subjects decided to take off on foot, leaving his friend stuck in the mud. The subject who ran thought the game warden had a warrant but was mistaken. Upon searching the vehicle, marijuana and a 9mm pistol were seized as evidence. The other warden was also dealing with a third subject at the same location. The second warden discovered marijuana in the subject's tackle box as he was fishing by the river. Cases pending.
Told you so
On Aug. 20, a Harris Co. game warden received information that a field near Cypress had been baited and that the subjects might already have been hunting earlier that week. The warden located the field and found cracked corn and milo along with dove decoys hanging on the barbed wire fences. The following Sunday, the game warden watched the field in the evening and observed four subjects shoot skeet for an hour before the temptation of all the doves got to them. The subjects shot doves until 8:15 p.m. before deciding to pack it up. As the game warden made contact with the surprised subjects, he overheard one say: "I told you guys this was not a good idea." Cases and restitution pending.
Canine alert
On Aug. 22 at 1:30 a.m., a Taylor Co. game warden heard his dog barking at something. When the game warden went outside to see what it was, he could hear a vehicle idling at a curve near his house. After about a minute, two shots rang out and the vehicle took off. The game warden got into his truck and followed the vehicle. The game warden stopped a vehicle just south of Merkel for running a stop sign and inside the vehicle were three individuals, along with two spotlights, a shotgun, a .243 rifle, and an open 36-pack of beer. All three individuals, 18 years old, denied shooting off the road but did state they had been hunting on some property south of Merkel and had driven to Nolan to look at the windmills. Two of the subjects did not have a hunting license or hunter's education. Citations issued.
The $65,000 hogs
On Aug. 19, a Montgomery Co. game warden received a call about someone trespassing to hunt on a lease near Magnolia. Information was that several subjects from a subdivision bordering the lease had come onto the property and shot several hogs.. The first game warden at the scene found where the hogs had been dragged from the lease then followed the trail back to a residence. Soon, another game warden joined the first at the residence to assist with the investigation. While one game warden was interviewing the suspect, the second noticed what appeared to be blood on a 2005 Kawasaki Mule 4x4. The suspect stated the blood on the Mule was old then challenged the game wardens to find evidence of illegal hunting on the Mule and gave consent to search. Well, he forgot about the baggie of marijuana he had in the glove box of the Mule. The game warden also noticed that the ignition had been tampered with and a master lock key was in it. The game warden started asking the suspect questions about the Mule 4x4 and received several different versions as to how he acquired it. The game warden located the VIN and a routine check found that it had been reported stolen through Rice University PD in November 2006. A Caterpillar skid steer loader at the location had its identification plate removed; the secondary VIN was located and it was found to be stolen. While all of this was going on, a man on an ATV drove by the wardens' location. Suspecting that he may be connected to the poaching call, the game warden chased the ATV operator down and stopped him. The ownership of the ATV came into question, so the game wardens followed the subject to a second residence where several other ATVs were located. They continued their investigation on the trespassing and poaching call along with the possible involvement of the newly discovered ATVs. When the dust finally settled, the Montgomery Co. game wardens had recovered one stolen 2005 Kawasaki Mule 4x4, a stolen Bobcat loader and three stolen ATVs, with an estimated value of $65,000. The first suspect was transported to Montgomery Co. Jail for possession of marijuana. Investigation continues with assistance from local Motor Vehicle Theft Task Force.
Suspect makes contact
On Aug. 17 at approximately 11:45 p.m., a Robertson Co. game warden initiated the stop of a suspicious vehicle on a county road in Robertson Co.. The vehicle was traveling at a very low rate of speed heading toward the game warden's truck. The game warden began to exit his truck when he noticed that the suspect vehicle was still slowly moving toward his truck. The vehicle continued moving forward until it came to rest against the bumper of the game warden's truck. Due to this odd driving behavior, the game warden conducted a felony stop. Once the suspects were removed from the vehicle and secured, the game warden discovered a bottle of hydrocodone in the center console. The pills were not prescribed to either suspect. The two men were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and the driver was charged with driving without a valid driver's license. There was no damage to the state vehicle.
Marina operations shaky
On Aug. 11, while patrolling Lake Texoma by boat, a Grayson Co. game warden made contact with the manager of a marina who had complained about no-wake violations. Upon arrival at the marina, the game warden noticed that three of the marina's work boats were displaying expired registration decals. After stopping one of the marine boats to inquire about the registration, the game warden learned that there were no PFDs or fire extinguishers on the vessel. A citation was issued for insufficient PFDs. As the game warden continued to patrol the marina, he noticed that about half of the marina was covered with a gas or oil sheen and there were no visible cleanup efforts. After Grayson County's environmental officer was contacted, the gas dock was shut down and cleanup efforts began. The game warden contacted the marina manager, who assured him that the registration and safety equipment situation on the marina boats would be corrected. On the morning of Aug. 12, the game warden received a call from a customer regarding the same marina, advising that the marina's shuttle boat had been operating all night without any navigation lights and without sufficient numbers of PFDs. The game warden went back to the marina and made contact with the manager again. As the game warden pulled into the marina parking lot, he observed one of the shuttle boats coming ashore with 14 passengers. A check of this boat found only four PFDs and five children 10 years of age and under not wearing PFDs. Additional citations were issued.
Submarine camping
On Aug. 8, an Erath Co. game warden and a McLennan Co. game warden, along with a game warden applicant, patrolled the Brazos River for water safety violations. Now that the flood waters have receded, the wardens counted a total of about 20 RVs, travel trailers and pop-up travel trailers that floated down-river during the floods.
Really, we don't have any fish
On Aug. 5, a Harrison Co. game warden filed two MIP cases at Brandy Branch Lake. The minors stated they did not have any fish in the live well. The game warden verified that the live well had no fish, but it was full of iced down beer.
Time-space continuum … er, conundrum
While a game warden was checking fishing licenses on Lake Buchanan, he made contact with a young man who stated his fishing license was back at the cabin. The game warden issued him a citation at 4:35 p.m. and told him to contact the judge and present his license for dismissal. At 6:22 p.m., the subject purchased a one-day fishing license from a store over 60 miles away and subsequently contacted the judge to fax his fishing license for dismissal. Upon faxing the license, he realized the later time was shown so he changed the time to 6:22 a.m. and sent in a second fax. The judge with two copies in hand rendered her decision with a chuckle.
What a waste
At the end of July, Aransas Co. game wardens received information concerning two blue marlins that were caught and entered into a local tournament. The big fish weighing in the hundreds of pounds were dumped whole into Aransas Bay after the weigh-in. One fish washed up on the Rockport City Park beach and the other washed up on Fulton Beach. The city of Rockport needed a backhoe to remove the fish from the beach. The subjects who dumped the fish were filed on for waste of game charges.
AR 2007-09-10