|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2014-03-28                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
March 28, 2014
Texas State Parks Welcoming Spring Blooms
AUSTIN - Fields of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, redbuds aglow with blossoms the color of rose' wine and desert cacti and yuccas sporting delicate, colorful blooms confirm that spring is hitting its stride throughout Texas.
Texas is blessed with more than 5,000 species of wildflowers. More than 90 Texas State Parks present some of the best and safest places to view and photograph nature's bounty of wildflowers and blooming shrubs and trees.
Photo buffs are reminded they have until midnight, April 14, to submit their best shots and possibly win a GoPro© video camera from Whole Earth Provision Co.
To enter the contest, visit: www.texasstateparks.org/photography and follow the links to the contest. Sign into Flickr (Yahoo), or for entrants who prefer to sign in with an existing Google account or Facebook account, there's a way to do that, too. Select "Join This Group" to be added to the "2014 Texas State Parks Photo Contest," then upload your entries. For complete contest rules, visit tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/parks/things-to-do/photo-contest-rules .
Most Texas State Parks are using social media sites, such as Facebook and Pinterest, to provide updates about where to view noteworthy flora in bloom. Recent reports noted good stands of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush at Lake Somerville State Park and fields of bluebonnets at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. Postings on Pinterest cited Seminole Canyon's claret cup cactus; Bentsen-Rio Grande's Spanish daggers, lantana and huisache; Lake Brownwood's Texas redbuds; Lake Whitney's bluebonnets; and Palmetto's bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush.
An excellent place to view spring bloomers is the Lady Bird Wildflower in Austin, which as of mid-March reported: Mexican plum, Texas bluebonnets, Mexican gold poppy, Texas redbud, agarita, coralberry and fragrant sumac, among others. To see up-to-date reports, visit: http://www.wildflower.org/whatsinbloom/.
The Texas Department of Transportation website (https://www.txdot.gov) presents ongoing reports from throughout the state. You also may call 1-800-452-9292 for details about where noteworthy stands of wildflowers have been sighted along the state's highways.
In most areas of Texas, state botanists say decent fall rains have resulted in a good crop of wildflowers except in parts of the Hill Country and West Texas where moisture has been scant and sporadic. It should be noted that the blooming season for most of the state west of the Pecos River isn't spring, but mid to late summer.
"Because of a continuing lack of rainfall, there aren't many wildflowers in the Edwards Plateau region," reports Jackie Poole, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department botanist. "I have noticed a few Indian paintbrushes, and in certain spots around Austin, bluebonnets are doing well."
Fellow TPWD botanist Jason Singhurst recently has been traveling the roads throughout Northeast Texas this spring. Among trees in bloom, he reports flowering dogwood, red buckeye, sassafras, redbuds, Mexican plum, mayapples, sand plum and Chickasaw plum. As for wildflowers and shrubs, Singhurst has spotted white trout lilies, goldenrod, wooly groundsel, farkleberry, bluets, bluebonnets, buttercups, Indian paintbrush swamp privet.
A couple of late freezes in east and northeast Texas caught redbuds and Mexican plums just starting to bud and bloom, thwarting their colorful show. There are very few wildflowers blooming and even the azaleas in Tyler have not bloomed, reports Kay Jenkins, regional natural resource specialist in Tyler.
"Dogwood blooms are starting to open up and Daingerfield and Tyler state park are typically good places to see those," Jenkins says. "I did see some mayapples blooming the other day and good parks to see them include Tyler and Caddo Lake state parks. Two of my favorite places to see wildflowers each year are Cedar Hill and Eisenhower state parks, where coneflowers and foxglove should be blooming soon."
Some of the most reliable places for viewing dazzling crops of wildflowers crops year-in, year-out are found in rolling, verdant Washington County, and this year is no exception. Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site between Brenham and Navasota offers great wildflower diversity among 293 acres of natural riverside beauty, as well as an informative primer on early Republic of Texas history. Further south, Goliad State Park reports wildflowers are "beautiful."
If you're heading to Big Bend country in the next week or two, stop by the Barton Warnock Visitor Center in Lajitas and check out the cactus garden. A number of species, including rainbow cactus, claret cactus, ocotillo, yucca, huisache, agave and Big Bend bluebonnets, are putting on their spring show.
And even further out west in El Paso, Franklin Mountains State Park ranger Adrianna Weickhardt reports nature is putting on a dazzling display of desert marigolds, lyreleaf twistflowers, blackfooted daisies, claret-cup cactus, feather daleas and verbenas, with barrel cacti on the verge of blooming.
Recent sightings reported by TPWD staff elsewhere in Texas State Parks include:
--Mission Tejas (Grapeland) - dogwoods in full bloom
--Meridian - bluebonnets are about a third of the way through the bloom cycle; thicker patches but not as widespread
--Goose Island (Rockport) - bluebonnets, blue-eyed grass, and spiderworts in full bloom in a half dozen different shades, including pink, hot pink, lavender, purple, dark blue and light blue
--Palmetto (Gonzales) - some bluebonnets near the entrance but much needed recent rains should spur more blooming
--Lake Casa Blanca (Laredo) -- lots of bluebonnets blooming along Ranchito Road and the north side of the park (just west of the Kiddie Park).
--Fairfield - nice bluebonnets at the headquarters; flowering dogwoods, Indian paintbrush and wild plum also are noteworthy
--Tyler -- Mexican plums are in peak bloom right now; violets blooming in the forest and rose verbena blooming in the open woodlands and on the Blackjack hill. Dogwoods just now coming out, Jack-in-the-pulpit about bloom below the dam and floating bladderwort blooming in the swampy areas
On the Net:
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/texasparks/where-to-see-wildflowers/

[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
March 28, 2014
TPW Commission Approves Expanded Mule Deer, Extended Squirrel Hunting Seasons
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Thursday, March 27 public hearing approved expanded mule deer hunting in several counties and extended squirrel season across parts of East Texas.
An archery-only open season and 16-day general season for mule deer in Knox County, and a nine-day general season for mule deer in Castro, Hale and Lubbock counties will be in effect for the 2014-15 hunting seasons. The mule deer season had previously been closed in these counties. The Commission also clarified that use of antlerless mule deer permits would not count against a hunter's county bag limit, nor require an antlerless mule deer tag from a hunting license. In addition, the use of the permit was extended to be used in archery season with archery equipment only.
The Commission also approved extending squirrel hunting season in 51 East Texas counties to the end of February and permit the use of air rifles meeting minimum standards of 600 fps (feet per second) muzzle velocity, fired from the shoulder (no handguns) and having projectiles of at least .177 caliber. The Commission also eliminated bag and possession limits on squirrel in 12 counties in north-central Texas.
In other Commission action, effective for the spring 2015 season, turkey hunters in East Texas can use mobile technology for mandatory reporting of harvested Eastern turkeys. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is developing a mobile app and a web-based harvest reporting form to facilitate the process electronically.
In addition, a provision prohibiting possession of firearms while hunting deer or turkey during an open archery season has been removed. Lawful archery equipment remains the only means authorized to take deer or turkey during archery season.
Also, the Commission clarified that holders of a valid Texas Lifetime Hunting License must still acquire and use tags annually where tagging of harvested game is required.
The Commission also shortened by one month the current year-round open season for desert bighorn sheep and eliminated the requirement of a landowner affidavit for skulls and horns found in the wild. Persons who find desert bighorn sheep skulls or horns and wish to lawfully possess, must still notify the department within 48 hours and make arrangements to have them plugged.
All regulation changes take effect Sept. 1, 2014.

[ Note: This item is more than three 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]
March 28, 2014
No New Positives Found in 2013-14 Trans Pecos CWD Surveillance
AUSTIN - Nearly 300 tissue samples were collected from hunter harvested deer and elk from the Trans Pecos ecoregion during the 2013-14 season to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Over the last two hunting seasons upwards of 600 deer and elk have been tested for CWD, thanks to the cooperation of hunters and landowners who have participated in the state's hunter check stations.
"Undoubtedly without the hunter check stations, and hunter and landowner participation, we would know very little about the prevalence of the disease or where it exists," said Mitch Lockwood, Big Game Program Director with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
To date, 617 deer and elk have been tested through the CWD check stations and strategic sampling that occurred during the summer of 2012; 215 were in the Containment Zone, 172 were in the adjacent High Risk Zone, 57 were in the Buffer Zone, and 173 were outside of the CWD zones. Forty five of the samples tested from the Containment Zone were from deer harvested in the Hueco Mountains.
TPWD's Current CWD Management Zones
"Additional sampling is necessary to develop more confidence in the geographic extent and prevalence of the disease, but the fact that CWD has not been detected in Texas outside of the Hueco Mountains of northern El Paso and Hudspeth counties is encouraging," said Lockwood.
Including the positives reported from last year's sampling effort, and the three positives reported by New Mexico Game and Fish in 2012, CWD has been detected in 9 of 49 deer sampled in the Hueco Mountains.
CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. CWD among cervids is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. An animal may carry the disease for years without outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of responsiveness. CWD is not known to affect humans or livestock.
There is no vaccine or cure for CWD, but steps have been taken to minimize the risk of the disease spreading from beyond the area where it currently exists. TPWD and Texas Animal Health commissions adopted rules to restrict movement of deer, elk, and other susceptible species within or from the CWD Zones as well increase surveillance efforts.
More information about CWD is available online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/diseases/cwd/.