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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2018-02-28                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than nine months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Feb. 28, 2018
Texas Game Wardens Crack Down on Illegal Wildlife Trade in Dallas/Fort Worth
Editor's Note: Images available for use with this article at https://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=operation_wild_web
DALLAS - No Sale! That was the message nearly two dozen willing online sellers of illegal wildlife resources received from Texas game wardens, along with citations, during a Wild Web crackdown conducted this week in the Metroplex.
Texas game wardens made multiple criminal cases against individuals attempting to make online sales of various threatened and protected wildlife species, as well as state and federally regulated natural resources. Navigating through internet forums and online marketplaces where trade in both live wildlife and wildlife parts are known to occur, wardens were able to negotiate undercover transactions with willing sellers to purchase things like a taxidermied great blue heron, raptor talons, American alligator heads and live box turtles.
"The illegal sale and exploitation of wildlife resources is a global problem that has a direct negative effect on the State of Texas and could lead to the loss of Texas native species, either through the harvest of native species or introduction of non-indigenous invasive species," said Col. Grahame Jones, Law Enforcement Director with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "Wildlife trafficking online is a major problem and we want to send a message loud and clear that it will not be tolerated."
During the operation, game wardens conducted 20 cases using online searches and mobile apps to uncover illegal items for sale. The investigations netted numerous seizures of wildlife resources, and resulted in issuance of 18 citations and 18 warnings. Citations included charges for sale and possession of threatened and or protected species, sale of migratory duck parts, sale of American alligator parts (no retail dealer permit), commercial exotic snake permit violations, Illegal sale of game fish, no fish dealer's license, and failure to possess a non-game dealer permit. All citations issued were class C misdemeanor violations punishable by fine from $25 -- $500.
Federal laws regulating the sale of wildlife include the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; the Endangered Species Act (which bans the interstate or international sell of listed species and most products made from them); and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (which limits the sale of most marine mammal parts and products, other than those crafted by Native Alaskans).
Additional covert wild web operations have been conducted elsewhere around the state, with the most recent crackdown in Houston last May. The public is urged to help augment game warden efforts by notifying Operation Game Thief at 800-792-GAME about possible illegal online wildlife trade activity or contact your local game warden office. A list of game warden offices can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department web site.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Feb. 28, 2018
TPWD Taking Public Comment on Proposed Changes to Hunting Regulations
Facebook Live Webinar Set for March 6
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is now accepting public comment on a suite of proposed changes to this year's hunting regulations, which include: a unified statewide deer season opener, legalizing air guns and air bows for hunting certain wildlife species, and a reduction of the spring Eastern turkey season.
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is now accepting public comment on a suite of proposed changes to this year's hunting regulations, which include: a unified statewide deer season opener, legalizing air guns and air bows for hunting certain wildlife species, and a reduction of the spring Eastern turkey season.
The following amendments to the 2018-19 Texas Statewide Hunting Proclamation are being proposed by TPWD staff:
--Standardize the general deer hunting season statewide to open the first Saturday in November and end on the third Sunday in January. Additionally, staff propose to open the special late season, muzzleloader season, and the late youth season on the first Monday following the third Sunday in January for 14 consecutive days. This proposal would also adjust concurrent turkey hunting seasons with the general deer season in the North Zone.
--Allow the take of alligators, game animals, non-migratory game birds and furbearers with air guns and air bows.
--Remove references to the take of antlerless deer by MLDP tag only on U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and river authority lands, and clarify in regulation that take of antlerless deer is prohibited on U.S. Forest Service properties except during archery only season, muzzleloader season, special youth season, and during the 4 doe days on the LBJ National Grasslands in Montague and Wise counties.
--Clarify in regulation that in each county where antler restrictions are imposed that a person who takes a buck in violation of antler restrictions is prohibited from subsequently harvesting any buck deer with branched antlers on both main beams in that county during that current deer season.
--Remove requirement minimums for certain archery equipment, including: broadhead hunting points, 125-pound pull for crossbows, crossbow stock length of 25 inches, and mechanical safety on crossbows.
--Open a 9-day buck only mule deer hunting season (no archery season) in Lynn County.
--Implement an experimental "antler-restriction" regulation for mule deer bucks in Briscoe, Childress, Cottle, Floyd, Hall, and Motley counties.
--Increase the possession limit from 2 to 3 times the daily bag limit for chachalaca, ring-necked pheasants, and squirrel.
--Shorten the Eastern spring turkey hunting season in Bowie, Cass, Fannin, Grayson, Jasper, Lamar, Marion, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Red River, and Sabine by one week while retaining the current closing date of May 14. Staff also proposes closing the Eastern turkey season in Upshur and San Augustine counties.
--Increase the daily bag limits on northern pintails from 1 to 2 per day during the 2018-19 duck hunting season.
--Add dove hunting opportunity to the end of the late segment (December - January) of the North and Central Zones; and add a week to the early segment of the South Zone during the 2018-19 dove season.
Access to online resources, including details on these proposals and options to provide public comment, can be found on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website. TPWD staff will be presenting the proposed changes, and responding to questions and comments live on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Facebook page on Tuesday, March 6 at noon.
Comment may also be made in writing to TPWD, attn. Hunting Regulations Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744 or in person during the March 22 public meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at TPWD headquarters in Austin prior to rulemaking.
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[ Note: This item is more than nine months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Feb. 28, 2018
Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Team Continue Efforts
AUSTIN -- This month the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project progressed with another successful relocation of 113 pronghorn.
This marks the sixth year that pronghorn have been transplanted from healthy populations in the Texas Panhandle to supplement pronghorn populations in the Trans-Pecos region. In late January, pronghorn were captured from public and private lands around Dalhart and transplanted to a restoration site south of Valentine, TX. Since 2011, about 780 pronghorn have been translocated from the Texas Panhandle to supplement populations around Marfa and Marathon, Texas.
The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project is a multi-year, $1.4 million public-private partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. To date, more than $900,000 has been secured. The objective of the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project is to bolster declining pronghorn populations through wildlife management practices including: translocations, habitat improvements, and strategic predator management.
At least 17,000 pronghorn historically roamed the West Texas region, but by 2012 there were estimated to be fewer than 3,000. As of last summer, pronghorn numbers had doubled, based on TPWD aerial surveys.
But there is more to the effort than just moving animals.
"We complete a pre-translocation release site evaluation of the habitat. This effort includes partnering with landowners to modify restrictive fences and evaluating availability of vegetation to pinpoint an optimal release location," said Shawn Gray, TPWD Pronghorn Program Leader.
Gray noted that survival and production rates among transplanted pronghorn have been encouraging over the last few years, thanks to improved range conditions and intensive management activities like the fence modifications.
"Historic drought severely impacted survival in 2011 at just 20 percent, while good range conditions and more intensive management actions have led to much higher survival rates of between 70-85 percent during the other translocations," he noted. "Over the last five years, herds that received transplanted pronghorn have done well and have had above average fawn production."
This also marks the second year that 40 translocated pronghorn have been outfitted with GPS satellite collars programmed to collect locations every 15 minutes.
During the next year, the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) and TPWD will closely monitor the translocated pronghorn to determine adult and fawn survival, productivity, habitat utilization, and movements. Population assessments will help researchers identify sources of environmental stressors that may contribute to pronghorn population declines. "It is important for us to continue to collect data that will help the team identify key threats to existing populations," says Dr. Whitney Gann, pronghorn researcher for BRI. This research has and will continue to define the best science-based management practices essential in growing pronghorn populations in the Trans-Pecos region.
"By monitoring the translocated pronghorn with GPS tracking collars, we have plenty of evidence to support implementing fence modifications and increasing the number of 'pronghorn-friendly' fences − these management acts have greatly increased pronghorn movement across the Marfa Plateau," said Gann. "Facilitating movement is the best way to ensure that the pronghorn have access to seasonally available forage, good fawning cover, and an ability to escape predators."
The relocation process functions like a well-oiled machine.
"The capture went extremely well, the animals were all in excellent body condition and traveled safely to the release site," said Dr. Bob Dittmar, Wildlife Veterinarian for TPWD.
"We would not be able to attempt a project of this scope if we did not have support from Trans-Pecos and Panhandle private landowners and the cooperation of the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group," stated Gray. "Their continued involvement will ensure pronghorn herds in the Trans-Pecos will prosper in our desert grasslands."
This restoration effort is made possible by private landowners, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University (BRI), Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF), and USDA-Wildlife Services. In addition, Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson) funds are essential in supporting this project.
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