|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-04-30                                    |
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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 ] [TH]
April 30, 2013
Houston toad tadpoles released at Bastrop State Park
A small pond in Bastrop State Park welcomed home 1,500 Houston toad tadpoles that were released Tuesday morning after being raised to maturity in captivity. The endangered toad is surviving in the park, despite last year's catastrophic wildfire.
In a joint effort from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Houston Zoo, and Texas State University in San Marcos, the tadpoles are getting a better chance at survival after being harvested as egg strands from the same Bastrop pond earlier this year.
The tadpoles, which now have rear legs, are the latest phase of the Houston Toad Headstart Program begun in 2007, a multi-agency initiative designed to increase reproductive success of the Houston toad. Toads hatched and raised in protected captivity have higher survival rates than those in the wild. This is the first time tadpoles are being released to try to boost the population of the tiny endangered toad.
In the past, scientists have reintroduced baby "toadlets" on dry ground near breeding ponds. Texas State University's Dr. Michael Forstner, one of the foremost Houston toad authorities, has found through recent research that releasing advanced tadpoles results in at least as many surviving adults as is achieved by releasing toadlets.
Federally protected since 1972, the Houston toad once ranged over 14 counties, but loss of habitat has constricted that area to mostly Bastrop County. Historic drought and the 2011 wildfire have had a detrimental effect on the toad and its habitat, but surprisingly, researchers documented more toads than expected during the 2013 Houston toad breeding season. At least 17 successful egg-laying events occurred within the park earlier this spring, and 6 of those were harvested for "enrollment" in the Headstart Program.
However, the resilient toads will face a variety of post-wildfire challenges in their fragmented and dispersed habitat. Toadlets will emerge from the water into a landscape dramatically transformed by the wildfire, and one that is rapidly changing with each subsequent growing season.

[ 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 ]
April 30, 2013
Texas Game Warden Recognized by Texas Environmental Enforcement Task Force
AUSTIN -- The Texas Environmental Law Enforcement Association (TELEA) has recognized Texas game warden Sgt. Robert Waggett as the state's 2013 Environmental Investigator of the Year.
In presenting the award, the association noted that Sgt. Waggett has exemplified outstanding investigative skills and teamwork at an operational level. Working closely with the Houston Police Department Environmental Crimes Unit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and many local and county agencies, the sergeant has handled numerous investigations of major environmental polluters.
Based in Houston, Sgt. Waggett is a seasoned 20-year Texas Parks and Wildlife Department veteran.
Additionally, TELEA has recognized TPWD's contaminants laboratory staff, senior chemists Pamela Hamlett and Gary Steimentz, with the association's Environmental Investigator's Award in the non-commissioned category. Part of TPWD's Inland Fisheries Division, the two chemists were singled out for their work in advising field investigators in sampling procedures and protocols, along with the laboratory analysis and reporting of evidence used in numerous environmental crimes investigations.
"As we see more demand on water, the need for clean water for both people and wildlife becomes more important," said Grahame Jones, head of Special Operations in TPWD's Law Enforcement Division. "Our environmental crimes unit, made of Texas game wardens, is dedicated to protecting our environment, especially, our state waters. Sgt. Waggett, along with Hamlett and Steinmetz, are extremely dedicated and TPWD appreciates TELEA's recognition very much."