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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2019-01-04                                    |
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 4, 2019
Toyota ShareLunker Program Wraps up 2018 with 486 Entries from 89 Lakes Across the State
AUSTIN - At the beginning of 2018, the Toyota ShareLunker program debuted a new year-long season for anglers to enter their 8 pound and larger bass for prizes, recognition, and to help the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department promote and enhance bass fishing in Texas. On Dec. 31, staff wrapped up the first year of the revamped program with a total of 380 anglers entering 486 "lunker" bass from 89 lakes across the state.
"2018 was a big year for the Toyota ShareLunker program," said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker Program Coordinator. "Not only was it the first time we've had a year-long season since the program launched in 1986 - we also opened up the categories of entries to include bass 8 pounds or larger and launched a brand-new logo and look. We are excited to send off 2018 with such great participation and we hope to see even more anglers partner with us to help make bass fishing bigger and better in Texas in 2019."
Anglers entered largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger into four categories in the Toyota ShareLunker program, including six "Legacy Class" bass 13 pounds or heavier that were entered during the spawning window Jan.1 through March 31 and loaned to TPWD for the selective breeding and stocking program. The total number of entries in other categories who provided citizen science data included: 5 "Lunker Legend" bass 13 pounds or heavier caught outside the Jan.1 through March 31 spawning window or not loaned for spawning, 107 "Lunker Elite" bass weighing 10 to 12.99 pounds, and 368 "Lunker" bass at least 24 inches or weighing between 8 and 9.99 pounds.
The top five ShareLunker producing lakes in 2018 included Lake Fork near Quitman with 73 entries, Lake Conroe near Houston with 41 entries, Lake Athens in Athens with 28 entries, Sam Rayburn Reservoir near Jasper with 21 entries, and O.H. Ivie Lake near San Angelo with 17 entries.
Lake Fork was also the top producer of 13 pound or larger "Legacy Class" bass last year with three entries, including a 13.06 pound bass caught March 11, a 13.00 pound bass caught March 8, and a 15.48 pound bass caught March 2. Other lakes producing 13 pound or larger "Legacy Class" bass last year included Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which produced a 13.06 pound bass March 31; Kurth Reservoir, which produced a 13.34 pound bass March 25; and Twin Buttes Reservoir, which produced a 13.40 pound bass March 14.
"The anglers who loaned their 'Legacy Class' bass to us last year for our selective breeding program made a generous and valuable contribution towards the future of bass fishing in Texas," Brookshear said. "In addition to stocking their offspring back into the lakes where they were caught, we are incorporating offspring from the pure Florida largemouth bass 'Legacy Class' ShareLunkers into our hatchery broodstock so that in coming years we can stock millions of these selectively-bred big bass offspring statewide."
Last year, four of the 'Legacy Class' fish spawned successfully at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and thousands of those Toyota ShareLunker offspring were stocked in Twin Buttes Reservoir, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Kurth Reservoir, and Lake Fork. Because the Kurth Reservoir fish was a pure Florida largemouth bass, hatchery staff were able to retain 18,000 fingerlings for the state's largemouth bass ShareLunker broodstock development.
In return for loaning their fish to TPWD for selective breeding and stocking, anglers who enter "Legacy Class" Toyota ShareLunker bass over 13 pounds receive a catch kit, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into both the "Legacy Class" and year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license. The 2018 "Legacy Class" drawing winner was angler Michael Terrebonne of Cut Off, Louisiana, who caught ShareLunker 572 from Lake Fork March 8.
Anglers who enter a Toyota ShareLunker in every other category through Dec. 31 also receive great prizes, including a catch kit filled with merchandise and a drawing entry for a year-end $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license. The year-end $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license winner for 2018 will be announced in a Facebook Live broadcast at noon on Jan. 11 on the Toyota ShareLunker Facebook page.
With the 2019 season underway as of Jan. 1, anglers can enter their big bass catches in all categories on the Toyota ShareLunker app - available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play - or on the Toyota ShareLunker website, https://texassharelunker.com. The mobile app and website entry forms also include simple instructions for anglers who would like to provide a sample of fish scales from their lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.
Anglers who catch a 13 pound or larger "Legacy Class" bass through March 31 can enter by calling the program directly - any time of day - at (903) 681-0550.
For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program visit https://www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram and https://texassharelunker.com/.
Photos of the 2018 "Legacy Class" Toyota ShareLunker entries can be found on Flickr here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskPWX4hJ.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 4, 2019
TPWD Urges Hunters and Landowners to be Vigilant for Signs of Chronic Wasting Disease after Recent Tests Confirm CWD in White-tailed and Mule Deer in Existing Containment Zones
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has confirmed chronic wasting disease (CWD) in three white-tailed deer in Medina, Dallam, and Hartley Counties, and in three mule deer in Hudspeth, Hartley, and El Paso Counties. TPWD emphasizes that the discoveries underscore the importance for aggressive detection, sampling and herd management to control the spread of CWD.
The affected white-tailed deer in Medina County was harvested by a hunter on a private ranch in the current South-Central CWD Containment Zone, in the vicinity of captive deer breeding facilities where CWD had earlier been confirmed. Two CWD-infected whitetails and one mule deer were also hunter harvested in the Panhandle CWD Containment Zone, and two CWD-infected mule deer were harvested in the Trans-Pecos CWD Containment Zone. Each of the new confirmations occurred in a county where CWD had previously been detected.
In 2018, 49 cases of CWD were confirmed in permitted breeder facilities, and 8 cases were confirmed in animals taken outside a breeder facility or related release site. Thus far, with two exceptions, cases of CWD in the South-Central Containment Zone have been limited to deer breeding facilities and attached release sites where the owner breeds white-tailed deer pursuant to permits issued by TPWD. The permitted facilities in Medina County where CWD was confirmed are each operating under herd plans that require ante-mortem testing to detect and remove positive and exposed animals to attempt to reduce the chance of the disease escaping those facilities.
In the Trans-Pecos, the affected animals were taken close to the border with New Mexico, a state where CWD had previously been discovered. In the Panhandle, CWD has been confirmed in several mule deer and white-tailed deer; as well as some elk, which are not considered game animals in Texas.
The latest CWD confirmations follow a two-day CWD Symposium that was organized and hosted by TPWD, the Texas Animal Health Commission, and the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in early December. Approximately 200 landowners, deer enthusiasts, scientists, and representatives from state fish and wildlife agencies from around the country came together to share data and to discuss best practices to address the spread of CWD. As a recurring theme, presenters stressed the need for states and landowners to take early action to investigate CWD, limit deer movement and to test early.
"Case studies in other states which are dealing with CWD reaffirm that doing nothing is plainly not an option," said Dr. Bob Dittmar, TPWD wildlife veterinarian. "The outlook in those states where little or no action was taken does not look good. In contrast, Texas has committed to a more proactive approach that moves quickly to control the disease where discovered by limiting the movement of deer exposed to infected deer, and by reducing or eliminating deer where the disease is proven to exist. Texas also establishes containment and surveillance zones where post mortem testing is mandated. We believe that working with landowners and hunters to implement all reasonable measures to address this disease head on is the most important factor to our success thus far. Those in CWD areas can assist by providing samples to the department and harvesting deer to keep densities down."
Hunters who harvest mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, red deer, or sika deer within the Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, and South-Central Texas CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones are REQUIRED to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 48 hours of harvest. The department also urges hunters who take a deer outside of a CWD containment or surveillance zone to still help out by providing voluntary samples. Hunters and landowners interested in providing voluntary samples can contact their local TPWD biologist or simply bring the animal to any of the department's check stations located around the state. Those stations can be found at www.tpwd.texas.gov or in TPWD's Outdoor Annual.
Hunters are also encouraged to report any "sick looking" mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, red deer, or sika deer while hunting in any CWD zone to TPWD. To report a "sick looking" animal, simply contact a TPWD wildlife biologist or Texas game warden. Additional information about CWD, including carcass movement restrictions, and check station locations, can be found online at https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/diseases/cwd/ .
"We are very appreciative of the effort and cooperation that has been put forth by the vast majority of landowners, hunters and local officials across the state," said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. "Our ability to control the spread of this fatal disease is directly related to the cooperation offered by many, especially landowners and hunters, and we pledge to continue to work with everyone to minimize the impacts of this disease."
"The Texas Animal Health Commission is committed to working cooperatively with TPWD, USDA, industry and the private sector to limit the spread of this serious disease," said Dr. Andy Schwartz, State Veterinarian and TAHC Executive Director. "TAHC urges landowners and hunters to support required surveillance efforts in the Surveillance and Containment Zones by testing all hunter harvested exotic CWD susceptible species. Land owners in all other areas of the state must test up to three harvested exotic CWD susceptible species per premises each year."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Audio files associated with this news release:
Carter Smith's comments on CWD
Download: Carter Smith's comments on CWD
Bob Ditmar's comments on CWD
Download: Bob Ditmar's comments on CWD
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