|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-02-19                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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: Bryan Frazier, Texas State Parks, (512) 826-8703, bryan.frazier@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Feb. 19, 2013
Caprock Canyons State Park, Bison Herd Honored at Texas State Capitol
STAR Day Foundation Recognizes Panhandle Park for Conservation Efforts
AUSTIN--Elected officials and numerous students from around Texas packed the State Capitol of Texas rotunda to honor Caprock Canyons State Park and its ongoing efforts to preserve the Texas State Bison Herd, as park superintendent Donald Beard received the Service of Achievement Merit Award on this the 167th anniversary of Texas' statehood.
State of Texas Anniversary Remembrance (STAR) Foundation President Dennis Kulvicki of Presidio, TX, presented the award to Beard and TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith in front of State Senator Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, Texas General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson, dozens of students from Midland's San Jacinto Junior High School and Weimar Middle School, as well as numerous onlookers on Tuesday, paying tribute to Caprock's ongoing conservation efforts to save the last remnant herd of Southern Plains Bison.

[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
Feb. 19, 2013
ShareLunker Bite Heats Up: Lake O' the Pines, Toledo Bend, Lake Fork
ATHENS--Toyota ShareLunker entries came from three East Texas reservoirs within the last week.
February 14 Thomas McCraven of Gladewater caught Toyota ShareLunker 542, a 13.23-pounder from Lake O' the Pines. McCraven caught the fish in six feet of water in Allen Creek using a Baby Brush Hog. The fish was 24.75 inches long and 21 inches in girth. It was held for pickup at Johnson Creek Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker Weigh and Holding Station.
The next day, Toledo Bend Reservoir gave up a 13.06-pound bass to Casey Martin of Anacoco, Louisiana, who was fishing the FLW Everstart tournament. Martin's fish, now Toyota ShareLunker 543, was 26 inches long and 21 inches in girth. Catch details were not revealed.
On February 19 Mark Hall of Winnsboro pulled a 13.11-pounder, Toyota ShareLunker 544, from Lake Fork. Hall was fishing for crappie when they stopped biting. "I know from experience that when the crappie stop biting, it's because bass have moved in and starting feeding on them," he said. Hall quickly switched to a swim-bait, and the big bass smashed it right at the surface on the retrieve.
Hall's fish is the eighth to be entered into the ShareLunker program during the current season and is Lake Fork's third entry of the season.
Toledo Bend has now produced six ShareLunkers, the last having come from the lake in 2012.
McCraven's fish is the third to come from Lake O' the Pines. The lake produced two ShareLunkers in 2010.
"Lake O' the Pines has always produced some good quality bass," said Tim Bister, the TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist who manages the lake's fishery. "The ability for a reservoir to produce big fish is related to good population genetics and abundant prey fish. Shad and sunfish are abundant in Lake O' the Pines, and are the main food source for bass in this reservoir."
Florida largemouth bass fingerlings were stocked into Lake O' the Pines by TPWD periodically from 1982 through 2000 and more recently in 2009, 2010 and 2011. "These stockings have really helped to develop the quality largemouth bass population in the reservoir," Bister said. "Genetic testing of the largemouth bass population in 2013 found 3 percent of the fish sampled were pure Florida largemouth bass. All other fish in the sample contained some Florida bass genetics."
The total number of entries into the Toyota ShareLunker program for the current season now stands at eight with the traditional peak of entries still to come. More ShareLunker entries have come in March--230 of the 544--than in any other month.
All three recent catches are currently being held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens awaiting the results of DNA testing. Only fish that are pure Florida largemouth bass are used in the ShareLunker selective breeding program. Each lake that contributes an entry during the season receives a share of the fingerlings produced.
Fish that are not pure Florida are returned to the lake as soon as possible. The fish is still an official entry into the Toyota ShareLunker program, and the angler receives all program awards.
"We have a sound scientific basis for spawning only pure Florida largemouth bass," said TFFC director Allen Forshage. "For a full explanation, see the information from TPWD geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo in the sidebar 'Why Spawn Only Pure Florida Largemouth Bass."
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 the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
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 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.
Why Spawn Only Pure Florida Largemouth Bass?
ShareLunker program data show Florida largemouth bass are 10 times more likely to reach 13 pounds
By Dijar Lutz-Carrillo, TPWD Geneticist
Given recent events I thought it would be a good idea to reiterate why the ShareLunker and Operation World Record programs are operated in their current fashion, specifically, why hybrid ShareLunkers are not included in hatchery spawning events.
We should start by noting that hybrids are included in ShareLunker spawning events when non-introgressed Florida largemouth bass ShareLunkers are not available. This has been done in the past and will continue in the future. No one is of the opinion that hybrid largemouth bass cannot reach a large size, even a state or world record size. Nor does anyone think there isn't something special about the genotype of a hybrid largemouth bass that reaches a trophy size. However, one purpose of the ShareLunker and Operation World Record programs is to produce offspring that will reach large size. The use of non-introgressed Florida largemouth bass in the breeding programs enhances this probability.
The reasons for this are both theoretical and tangible. Size, not just in largemouth bass but in humans, mice, and everything else, is a quantitative trait that results from interactions between the genotype and the environment. The phenotype of size is the result of actions and interactions at and among hundreds to thousands of loci, each accounting for a fraction of a percent of the overall variance. The genetic contribution to this variance can be partitioned into three types--additive, dominance, and epistatic. While both a hybrid largemouth bass and a Florida largemouth bass will pass on the additive genetic components (or a portion of them) to their offspring, the epistatic and dominance configurations (or similar configurations) are more likely to be realized in the offspring of a non-hybrid cross.
The tangible evidence can be seen in our reservoirs. If you could roll all of our reservoirs into one big water body to create a "typical" Texas reservoir, 5 percent of the fish would be Florida largemouth bass and 90 percent of the fish would be hybrids. However, among all ShareLunker entries, 50 percent of these fish are Florida largemouth and 50 percent are hybrids. That means that 5 percent of the population (Florida largemouth bass) is responsible for 50 percent of the ShareLunkers, and 90% of the population (hybrids) is responsible for the other 50 percent. Given two fish, one a Florida largemouth bass and one a hybrid, the Florida largemouth bass is about 10 times more likely to reach a size of 13 pounds or greater.
Spawning a hybrid donated to the ShareLunker program and stocking out its offspring does not, by itself, hurt anything. However, TPWD has limited staff, time, spawning capacity, and pond rearing space for dealing with "special" fish, and those resources are best used by incorporating non-introgressed ShareLunkers into the spawning program. This increases the frequency of non-introgressed Florida largemouth bass in the population as well as the probability of producing offspring that will themselves reach trophy size. There will always be plenty of hybrids even if we never cross them.

[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
Feb. 19, 2013
TPWD Scoping Potential Special White-Winged Dove Area Regulations
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will be gathering input on possible dove hunting changes in conjunction with upcoming public hearings in San Antonio and Corpus Christi.
The department will be scoping the expansion of the Special White-winged Dove Area (SWWDA) and the associated reduction of mourning doves in the daily bag limit to two during this early four-day season.
The public hearings will begin at 7 p.m., to be followed by scoping sessions, and are set for:
--March 7 - Corpus Christi, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, NRC Rm. 1003, 6300 Ocean Dr.
--March 12 - San Antonio, Lions Field Community Center, 2809 Broadway
Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which regulates hunting seasons on migratory game birds, including doves, approved an expansion of the current SWWDA boundary in South Texas. The boundary would be expanded east to Interstate Highway 37 (see map). This change would approximately double the size of the SWWDA.
"This regulation change would allow more hunter opportunity on an expanding and increasing population of white-winged doves in South Texas," said Shaun Oldenburger, TPWD Dove Program Leader.
The USFWS has expressed concern about potential increased harvest of mourning dove in the SWWDA as a result of the proposed expansion. If Texas accepts the expansion, the USFWS is mandating a two bird daily bag limit reduction for mourning dove during the early season in the SWWDA.
Currently, the daily bag limit during the early season is 15 doves with no more than 4 mourning doves and 2 white-tipped doves. The regulation change would modify the daily bag limit to 15 doves with no more than 2 mourning doves and 2 white-tipped doves.
The public is reminded that a number of other fishing and hunting related issues will be covered at these meetings and not limited to this possible regulation change.
Additionally, public input on the dove zone scoping items can also be submitted electronically at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/scoping/ by email to Shaun Oldenburger at shaun.oldenburger@tpwd.texas.gov, or in writing to Shaun Oldenburger, PO BOX 788, San Marcos, TX 78667.
Proposed Boundary Change for the Special White-Winged Dove Area

[ Note: This item is more than four 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: Shawn Gray 432-837-2051, shawn.gray@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Feb. 19, 2013
Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Effort Continues
AUSTIN -- The continuation of the Trans-Pecos pronghorn restoration project took another step forward with the successful relocation of 130 pronghorn recently.
The animals were captured from healthy populations around Dalhart and moved to an area near Marathon to supplement severely declining populations.
The relocation process was coordinated by the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University, Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and USDA-Wildlife Services.
The objective of the Trans-Pecos pronghorn restoration project is to restore Trans-Pecos pronghorn populations that have reached historic lows through translocations from burgeoning herds in the Panhandle. Pronghorn numbers and population trends are assessed through aerial surveys conducted each summer.
During the initial phase of the restoration project in 2011, about 200 pronghorn were captured and released on ranches near Marfa. TPWD estimates about 15-20 percent of the transplanted pronghorn remain.
"The historic drought that occurred in the Trans-Pecos shortly after transplanting the pronghorn was the primary reason for the high mortality rate," said Shawn Gray, TPWD Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader. "However, in the area where the transplanted pronghorn were released they, and their offspring, currently compose a bulk of the local pronghorn population."
The 2013 relocation/release near Marathon occurred under significantly improved range conditions.
"The release area had favorable precipitation during the summer, as well as good winter moisture," said Gray. "We also spent six months working to prepare the release site, including fence modifications and predator management, all with landowner cooperation. Trans-Pecos field staff, headed by the local District Wildlife Biologist Mike Janis was instrumental in this effort."
Joachim Treptow, TPWD District Wildlife Biologist stationed in Dalhart spent endless hours coordinating with local landowners in the Dalhart area to obtain trapping permission and working on trap site logistics.
"Without his hard work and local landowner support this project would not have happened" said Gray.
At the capture site, workers took each animal's temperature to monitor stress, along with blood and fecal samples for disease surveillance. The pronghorn also received a mild sedative and other injections to minimize stress related to capture and transport. Ear tags were attached for identification, and 59 of the captured pronghorn were fitted with GPS radio collars to monitor movements. The collars will provide one GPS location per hour.
After processing, the pronghorn were transported by trailer to the Marathon release site. Dr. Louis Harveson, BRI director and Sul Ross professor of Natural Resource Management, said that "The pronghorn were in excellent shape and traveled really well."
During the next year, the BRI and TPWD will monitor the translocated pronghorn to determine survival, reproductive productivity, fawn survival, habitat utilization, and movements.
"We sincerely appreciate all the cooperation and support from the Dalhart and Trans-Pecos communities, because of their continued teamwork our state's pronghorn resource and all Texans are greatly benefited," said Gray. Without the many partnerships involved, this monumental project would have not occurred."

[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
Feb. 19, 2013
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to Meet on Red Snapper Issue
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will hold a special meeting in Austin on Feb. 26 to discuss recent events and options involving the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery.
On Feb. 8, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to recommend an emergency rule that could shorten the recreational red snapper fishing season in federal waters off the Texas coast to as little as 11 days from the planned 27 day season.
The recommendation passed by a narrow majority, over strong opposition by representatives from Texas and Louisiana, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and a representative from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
As recommended, the rule would give authority to the National Marine Fisheries Service southeast regional administrator to shorten the red snapper season in the federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters off Texas. The EEZ begins nine nautical miles from the coast and extends to 200 nautical miles. State waters extend from the coast outward nine nautical miles.
The commission meeting will take place at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 26 at TPWD's Austin headquarters. While no public comment will be taken at the meeting, TPWD has set up a web comment form to take comments online. Live audio of the meeting will be streamed online through the TPWD website.