|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-01-30                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven 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]
Jan. 30, 2012
Angler Lands Toyota ShareLunker 526 from Lake Austin
ATHENS--Lake Austin gave up the third Toyota ShareLunker of the season to Austin angler Brett Ketchum January 29.
The 13.0-pound bass is the thirteenth ShareLunker to come from the urban lake. Ketchum caught the fish on a jerkbait in 10 feet of 56-degree water while fishing in an Austin Bass Club of the Deaf tournament. He won big bass and placed second overall.
"She was a very good fighter," Ketchum said. "Once she jumped, I noticed she was big, but I kept fighting her, and when she got close and I saw her I thought, 'Oh, it's big!' I was nervous because I saw only one treble hook in her, and I knew I could lose her in a second. But I stayed calm, let her fight until she was tired, then reeled her close to the boat. My partner Sammy Oates, Jr., netted her beautifully. He and my son Braden were shaking when I bought her in."
Ketchum said he had always dreamed of catching a ShareLunker. "My time has come," he said. "It was an amazing day."
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling program manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or paging him at (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked back into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.
Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year's season, see http://tpwd.texas.gov/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, is posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

[ Note: This item is more than seven 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: Brian Van Zee, (254) 867-7974, brian.vanzee@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Jan. 30, 2012
Zebra Mussel Test Results on North Texas Lakes Reported
Boaters urged to continue to Clean, Drain and Dry boats moved between lakes
ATHENS--Despite recent test results showing zebra mussel DNA to be present in several North Texas reservoirs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officials remain hopeful that the invasive aquatic species is still confined to Lake Texoma.
Dr. Robert McMahon, Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Texas at Arlington, has been monitoring 14 North Texas reservoirs for the presence of zebra mussels using three techniques. One technique looks for zebra mussel DNA in the water, another uses a microscope to look for zebra mussel larvae (veligers) in the water, and the third uses a submerged monitor to look for newly settled juvenile mussels.
Lakes involved in the study include Eagle Mountain, Lewisville, Lavon, Ray Hubbard, Ray Roberts, Arrowhead, Bridgeport, Tawakoni, Caddo, Wright Patman, Fork, Lake O' the Pines, Caddo and Texoma.
Of those lakes, only Lake Texoma is known to be infested with zebra mussels.
Despite rigorous and repeated sampling in North Texas, Dr. McMahon has detected no zebra mussels of any life stage in any Texas lake other than Lake Texoma. Nevertheless, the most recent tests, carried out in October 2011, showed low levels of zebra mussel DNA in six lakes: Eagle Mountain, Lewisville, Ray Roberts, Arrowhead, Bridgeport and Caddo.
"Lakes Lavon, Ray Hubbard, Tawakoni and Wright Patman had no detected zebra mussel DNA in the samples," said McMahon. "Lavon and Ray Hubbard tested positive for zebra mussel DNA in the spring of 2011, so the absence of any veliger DNA in the fall samples suggests that mussels have not become established in those lakes. Lakes Fork, Lake O' the Pines and Bob Sandlin were not examined for mussel DNA in the fall of 2011, because they were considered inhospitable to zebra mussels based on high summer temperatures and low calcium levels."
The presence of zebra mussel DNA in the water is not an indication that zebra mussels have become established in a lake or that they will become established. "There are cases in the western U.S. where positive DNA results indicated the presence of zebra mussels, but those results could never be confirmed," said Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries regional director. "In fact, Lakes Ray Hubbard and Lavon tested positive in the spring of 2011 for zebra mussel DNA, but the presence of zebra mussels could not be confirmed by microscopy or settlement samplers. The spring 2011 samples were taken right around the time that contaminated boats were found on both lakes, so that may be why they tested positive. Both boats were removed and decontaminated, and subsequent monitoring on these two lakes, by three different entities, has not confirmed the presence of zebra mussels."
McMahon noted that he was surprised by the positive result for Caddo Lake. "I consider the lake's calcium levels to be too low and the summer water temperatures too high to support zebra mussels," he said.
Microscopic examination of water samples from the 14 lakes in both June and October 2011 showed zebra mussel veligers present only in Lake Texoma. "During June juvenile mussels were found on settlement monitors only in Lake Texoma, while no juvenile zebra mussels were found on settlement monitors in any of the 14 lakes in October, including Texoma," McMahon added.
McMahon suspects that boats being transported from Lake Texoma to other lakes are the source of the DNA found in the six lakes. "The data suggest that mussels and/or mussel larvae are being carried into these lakes by recreational boaters but are not becoming established as a sustainably reproducing mussel population," he said. "This is a sign that mussels are being introduced to Texas lakes, and if such introductions continue, some of these lakes may eventually become infested with zebra mussels."
"TPWD will continue monitoring these lakes for the presence of zebra mussels and doing everything it can to encourage boaters and anglers to Clean, Drain and Dry their boats for at least a week before moving them to another lake," Van Zee said. "We encourage boaters and anglers to visit http://www.texasinvasives.org/ to learn more about how they can help protect the waters they enjoy."
Concern over the possible transport of zebra mussels between bodies of water prompted TPWD to propose new regulations governing movement of boats or fish between lakes in North Texas. Details on the proposed regulations can be found at http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/?req=20120126b.

[ Note: This item is more than seven 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]
Jan. 30, 2012
TPWD Proposes Opening Deer Hunting Near Dallas
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering opening deer hunting in three North Texas counties and another on the upper coast this fall as part of recommended changes to the 2012-13 Statewide Hunting Proclamation.
TPWD staff recommended an open season for deer in Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and Galveston counties during a presentation Wednesday to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission's Regulations Committee.
In addition, the department is proposing to eliminate pheasant season in four coastal counties and permit the use of firearm silencers for hunting game animals and game birds. Staff recommendations addressing bobwhite quail hunting were tabled by the committee until additional population data is available later in the summer.
Wildlife officials cited the rules for Grayson County, the only county in Texas with an archery-only deer season, as a starting point for the Dallas metro area counties being considered for an open hunting season.
Under the proposed amendment, the current season structure in Grayson County would be altered to allow full-season, either-sex whitetail harvest. The amended Grayson County archery-only deer season structure would be implemented in Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall counties. In addition, the department is proposing to implement the Harris County season structure in Galveston County.
The deer season in Collin and Rockwall counties has been closed since 1976 after agricultural development had virtually eliminated deer habitat. Since that time, agriculture has been gradually displaced by the extensive urban, suburban, and exurban growth of the Metroplex, which has resulted in highly fragmented habitat and minimal populations of white-tailed deer, mostly in riparian areas surrounding lakes and streams.
The department believes that there is no biological reason to prohibit hunting and this is a way to increase hunting opportunity. Opening a season would also provide an additional method for addressing nuisance deer issues.
In 1976 the department stocked pheasant in seven counties along the upper Texas coast in an effort to create hunting opportunity. By 2002, surveys indicated no pheasant populations in four of those counties, and the seasons in those counties were closed. Surveys now indicate that there are no pheasants remaining in Chambers, Jefferson, or Liberty counties, either. Therefore, the department proposes to close the season in those counties because there are no birds left to hunt.
Regarding the proposed amendment allowing the use of silencers, the department has determined that there is no resource- or enforcement-related reason to prohibit the use of firearm silencers for the take of alligators, game animals or game birds, and therefore proposes to eliminate the current prohibition. The department notes that if the proposal is adopted, it will not relieve any person of the obligation to otherwise comply with any applicable state, federal, or local law governing the possession or use of firearm silencers.
Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (512) 389-4775; e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.texas.gov, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments may also be submitted through the department's Internet web site and at upcoming public meetings to be scheduled around the state.

[ Note: This item is more than seven 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: Steve Lightfoot ]
Jan. 30, 2012
TPWD Amends Nuisance Alligator Permit Process
AUSTIN - Landowners will be able to contract directly with nuisance alligator hunters under new rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Over the past 20 years, once imperiled alligator population in Texas have rebounded spectacularly. Increased suburban, exurban, an industrial development in an adjacent to coastal counties, particularly along the mid- and upper coast, has resulted in increasing number of nuisance alligator complaints, especially in areas biologically characterized by diminishing or little to no habitat.
The new protocol will authorize a permitted control hunter to contract directly with landowner or landowner's agent (including a political subdivision, governmental entity, or property owner's association) for a fee or other compensation for the removal of nuisance alligators
The new protocol requires that each nuisance control hunter complete a certification process that includes an application to TPWD, a department administered course and a test on nuisance control. Reporting requirements will ensure that only bona fide nuisance alligators are taken by permitted control hunters. An annual permit fee is also required.
Prior to the new rules, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had contracted with qualified individuals for the removal of nuisance alligators. Each hunter bid for the privilege to conduct nuisance control activities in a specific territory, agreeing to pay a per foot price to the department for every alligator removed. In return, the control hunter was allowed to keep the alligator and could sell the skin and meat. All removals were authorized on a case by case basis by the department.
Persons interested in the nuisance alligator control program should contact Amos Cooper at 409-736-3625 (office) or 409-293-2836 (cell). Prospective permittees can also request the information by email at amos.cooper@tpwd.texas.gov.