|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-04-07                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
April 7, 2017
Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
The One that Got Away
A tactical flight officer aboard a Department of Public Safety helicopter on patrol notified a Val Verde County game warden about a gill net being set out in the Rio Grande River. The individual setting out the gill net was observed crossing back and forth between the Mexico and Texas shorelines. The warden quickly responded to the location and observed the gill net stretched across the river and the individual who set it still in the area. It took the warden several minutes to make his way through dense river cane and, upon breaking through, he saw the illegal netter cross back into Mexico with a large fish in hand. The warden seized approximately 50 feet of gill net.
Packing Crappie
While patrolling late nights along Gladewater Lake's public fishing piers during the first week of March, a Gregg County game warden encountered two separate groups of fishermen attempting to flee the scene as he made contact. Gladewater Police Department officers were also patrolling nearby and quickly apprehended one of the subjects after he unwittingly ran directly toward their patrol vehicle. The other group's runner was also located a short distance from the lake and apprehended with help from Gladewater Police Department officers. Undersized crappie were located in the subject's backpack. Collectively, charges filed included: no fishing license, possession of undersized crappie, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to ID fugitive, and arrest on other agency warrants. Charges are pending.
Stolen and Found
A Gregg County game warden was responding to suspicious gunshots in the Little Cypress Creek bottoms near Gilmer when he discovered a stolen cargo trailer concealed in a remote wooded area along the creek. It was learned that the trailer was recently taken from a nearby dealership and used to commit burglaries throughout Gregg, Upshur and Harrison counties. The investigation is ongoing.
Those Wascal Wabbits
A Bailey County game warden responded to a call regarding shots being fired toward a highway intersection near the Texas-New Mexico state line. Bailey County sheriff's deputies assisting encountered one of the suspects on a county road and detained them until the warden arrived. During interviews, all three subjects admitted to road hunting rabbits and claimed that they didn't think a license was required. They also indicated their father, who sells hunting licenses as a local vendor, told them that a license was not needed to hunt rabbits. The warden advised them to educate their father on licensing requirements. Numerous citations were issued including no hunting license, hunting from a public roadway, and no hunter education.
A Turkey Shoot
Game wardens responded to a call concerning a turkey shot from the road. A landowner reported he had heard two shots close by, investigated and found a turkey flopping in the bar ditch. He also reported seeing a truck drive by slowly, not long after the shots, and identified the driver as a local man who lived just down the road. An empty shotgun shell was recovered from the roadway. Upon arriving at the suspect's residence, the wardens located a truck that matched the vehicle description and saw two rifles and a shotgun inside the vehicle. While talking to the suspect, the wardens obtained consent to search the truck and located a box of shells that matched the spent shell obtained from the roadway. After a lengthy discussion, the man admitted to shooting the turkey from the road. Citations are pending for hunting from a public roadway and hunting turkey in closed season.
Night Moves
A Palo Pinto County game warden patrolled the Morris Sheppard Dam on Possum Kingdom Lake to check the restricted area for fishermen after receiving word from Brazos River Authority Lake Rangers that they had caught on surveillance video six individuals recently enter the restricted area and fish for three hours. The warden arrived at the dam just after midnight and watched two subjects with headlamps fishing from the base of the dam. Both were apprehended before they could get rid of their fish or equipment and after questioning admitted to knowing that they were in the restricted area. They were arrested and taken to the Palo Pinto County Jail. Five striped bass ranging from 22 to 33 inches in length were seized and civil restitution is pending.
The Old Switcharoo
Game wardens were patrolling the Brazos River when they observed a vessel operator and passenger switch positions. The wardens made contact and, after field sobriety tests, the driver was arrested for boating white intoxicated.
Four-Wheeling in High Gear
While patrolling Lake McQueeney, wardens spotted several ATVs being operated in the Guadalupe River bed. The wardens beached their boat and were able to approach the ATV operators on foot and stop them. Subsequent investigation revealed three of the men to be in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Cases are pending.
A Net Loss
While patrolling the Gulf of Mexico out of Rockport, game wardens made contact with a shrimp boat approximately 7.5 miles offshore in Texas waters. Upon inspection of their shrimp nets and required TEDs (turtle excluder devices built into nets that allow sea turtles to escape), it was found that all four TEDs were in violation. The vessel with its cargo of over 5,000 pounds of illegally taken shrimp was escorted to Port Aransas where the shrimp and nets were seized. Numerous citations were issued.
Just Can't Make This Stuff Up
A game warden patrolling Lake Corpus Christi for fishing and water safety violations inspected a small aluminum boat and then checked the fishermen's licenses and catches. When he asked the fishermen what they were using as bait they said woodpecker. Sure enough, there were three dead woodpeckers in their cooler. Further investigation led to the fishermen admitting to killing an eight point buck the previous year, without a license, and using it as fish bait as well. Water safety, fishing and hunting citations were issued. Charges and restitution for the deer and birds are pending.

[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
April 7, 2017
TPWD, Local Partners Provide Free Saltcedar Treatment to Landowners on the Upper Brazos River
AUSTIN - In 2016, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and local partners treated 3,500 acres of invasive saltcedar along 112 miles of the Upper Brazos River at no cost to landowners. This year, the group is working to expand the effort further downstream and fill in gaps in the areas that have already been treated.
To enlist new local landowners in the fight against the invasive tree, representatives from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will be holding a series of informational workshops in Garza, Kent and Stonewall counties this month. The first workshop will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, April 20, at Stonewall County Community Center in Aspermont and the second workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 22, at the Kent County Community Center in Jayton.
"Landowner partners are a critical part of the saltcedar treatment effort in the Upper Brazos watershed," said Monica McGarrity, TPWD aquatic invasive species team leader. "We are looking to meet people, build partnerships, talk about what we are doing, and show folks where we've been working, where we expect to be working this year, and give them an idea of the project's scope and goals."
Saltcedar has been called a "game changer" for aquatic life - the thickets of invasive trees armor the banks of the river, cause sediment to build up in the flood plain, consume large quantities of water and can even change the shape of the river and affect water flows. But the dense saltcedar thickets can also be detrimental to the native plants, wildlife and people that call the land around the river home and can increase wildfire intensity.
"Where there are less plant species there is also less animal diversity," said Seth Pearson, TPWD wildlife biologist. "And the thicket limits access to the river for hunters, ranchers and wildlife because it creates a dense physical barrier."
All landowner partners who elected to participate in 2016 received no-cost aerial herbicide treatment of saltcedar. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife program will be providing selected landowners with funding for ground-based herbicide application in areas where cottonwoods or other nontarget plants are located. Although the herbicide treatment does not immediately kill the tree or reduce the thicket, based on post-treatment surveys biologists have found that 80-90 percent of saltcedar was affected by the 2016 treatment. The no-cost treatment program is continuing in 2017 with priority given to properties on the Double Mountain and Salt Forks of the Brazos River.
In some cases, landowners can also elect to participate in riverside and instream habitat monitoring being conducted by biologists from TPWD and Texas Tech University. Researchers from the University of Texas will also install instruments at a few participating landowner sites.
"We are installing monitoring wells and soil moisture sensors to see how water levels change following saltcedar abatement," said Brad Wolaver, a research associate with The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology. "We are also developing a water budget model to evaluate how flows in the river might change with effective large scale management of saltcedar."
Wolaver said the data improves our understanding of the hydrology of the Brazos River. But on a smaller scale, this data also provides landowners with information about how much it has rained at their property, how wet the soil is, and how groundwater levels are changing following treatment. Landowners may also find this information useful to improve their management of irrigation and livestock watering.
Landowners who elect to participate in saltcedar management, including any of the research projects, will be given advance notice before any aerial treatment or visit to their property.
Funding for the project is provided by Rider 34, a $6.3 million Texas legislative appropriation to TPWD to address statewide management of aquatic invasive species in the 2016-2017 biennium.
An email RSVP is requested but not required to attend the landowner workshops; a $5 door fee will be collected to cover food and refreshments and organizers want to be sure there's enough food for everyone.
To RSVP for the workshops or request more information about the project and how to become a landowner partner, contact Monica McGarrity at (512) 552-3465 or email at monica.mcgarrity@tpwd.texas.gov.
To view aerial footage of saltcedar treatment on the upper Brazos River, visit our Youtube channel online, or to download the footage visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/files/video/.

[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
April 7, 2017
13.97 Pound Largemouth Bass Sets Record at Belton Lake
ATHENS - On April 1, angler Kurt Luker of Cleveland set a water body record for a largemouth bass at Belton Lake with a 13.97 pound fish caught during the Texas Team Trail tournament.
Not only is this the largest largemouth bass ever submitted for a record from the lake, it's also the first ever lake entry into the Toyota ShareLunker Program, which encourages anglers who have caught 13-pound-plus largemouth bass between Oct. 1 and April 30 to lend the fish to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for data collection and spawning purposes.
Belton Lake now joins the list of 68 other Texas public water bodies that have produced a ShareLunker. Having worked in Waco for 18 years, TPWD inland fisheries district supervisor John Tibbs may know the area fisheries better than anyone - and even he is impressed with this catch.
"Belton Lake is the best smallmouth bass fishery in Central Texas - nothing else even comes close," Tibbs said. "But it's not typically known as a big bass lake or a trophy lake like Lake Fork. So it's impressive and somewhat unusual to see a fish of this quality come out of there."
While Belton Lake was stocked with largemouth bass fingerlings in 2016, before that it hadn't been stocked since 1995. Tibbs attributes the growth of the self-sustaining population of largemouth bass to Belton Lake's high resistance to habitat impairment in years of drought as well as recent years of heavy rainfall, which contributes to "good water, lots of forage and lots of habitat."
"We had a huge amount of water in 2007 - it reached 630 feet and sustained that from June to the end of summer," Tibbs said. "So that year we had a tremendous amount of habitat improvement, we probably had a great spawn and we had a fantastic amount of prey. That fish may have gotten a really good jump-start on growth, and if that's the case there may be some others out there."
While it remains to be seen if there are any other "lunkers" in Belton Lake, it can be confirmed that there is at least one swimming around at the moment. Luker released the fish, now called ShareLunker 570, back into the lake after TPWD biologists verified the catch and took a fin clip for genetic analysis.
If she had been caught one day earlier, the bass would have been collected and attempted to spawn at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. But starting this season, entries caught after March 31 are not taken as brood stock for spawning.
Anglers have until April 30 to submit 13 pound or larger largemouth bass into the program for certified weight, DNA sample and immediate release - and those hoping to catch a "needle-in-a-haystack" trophy fish may not have to look any further than the lakes in their hometown.
"Any lake could have a ShareLunker," Tibbs said. "If Belton Lake is any indication you don't have to go to Lake Fork for a 13 pound bass - you can still catch one just about anywhere you go."
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by funds provided by Gulf States Toyota and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
For updates on the ShareLunker program and to view photos of ShareLunker 570, visit https://www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram/.