+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2007-05-21                                    |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|  This page contains only plain text, no HTML formatting codes.          |
|  It is not designed for display in a browser but for copying            |
|  and editing in whatever software you use to lay out pages.             |
|  To copy the text into an editing program:                              |
|    --Display this page in your browser.                                 |
|    --Select all.                                                        |
|    --Copy.                                                              |
|    --Paste in a document in your editing program.                       |
|  If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send            |
|  an e-mail to webtech@tpwd.state.tx.us and mention Plain Text Pages.    |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [TH]
May 21, 2007
77 Ranch Award Shows Water Connection From Landscape To Faucet
BLOOMING GROVE, Texas -- Folks in Fort Worth don't know it, but the water coming out of their faucets is cleaner and cheaper because of ranchers like Gary and Sue Price. The Price's model ranching operation shows how enlightened landowners can make a living in ways that benefit people and wildlife, agriculture and the environment.
On May 23 in Austin, the Price's 77 Ranch south of Dallas will receive the Leopold Conservation Award for Texas from Sand County Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, part of the department's Lone Star Land Steward Awards program. Every year, TPWD seeks to recognize private land stewards in 10 ecological regions across the state, as well as the Leopold Conservation Award steward of the year.
For the third year, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards benefit from association with Sand County Foundation, an international non-profit organization devoted to private landowner conservation. Each ecoregion award recipient and the wildlife management association recipient will receive $1,000 from the foundation, while the Prices as Leopold Conservation Award recipients will receive $10,000 and the Leopold crystal. The purpose is to recognize outstanding examples of voluntary stewardship.
"Our main goal is sustainability," said Gary Price. "We're trying to run a family operation. My son runs a ranch in West Texas, and I'd like him to have the option to come back here and run this place. It's the old standard of leave it better than I found it."
The 77 Ranch encompasses about 2,160 acres in Navarro County. Almost all of it, about 1,730 acres, is in native range or woodlands, with about 200 acres of cropland and about 90 acres of non-native grass pasture. About 40 acres of small ponds and lakes provide habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
"The thing that really stands out to me is this is a landowner who clearly sees the whole picture, who understands the ecological processes and management practices that help the land function optimally," said Jay Whiteside, TPWD wildlife biologist in Barry, who nominated the 77 Ranch for the award. "His thoughts are first and foremost toward the land and making it the best it can be, from a production standpoint and from a biodiversity standpoint."
When raindrops fall on the 77 Ranch, tall native grasses with deep fibrous roots catch and hold the water, slowly filtering and releasing it, recharging the underground water table and sending cleaner water with less silty erosion downstream to Richland-Chambers Reservoir. For this reason, Tarrant Regional Water District has for years been providing grants to ranchers like the Prices.
"The water district is convinced that what happens in the watershed very often drives not just the quantity of water in our reservoirs, but also water quality," said Darrel Andrews, Tarrant Regional Water District assistant environmental director. "That in turn affects the water we sell to our customers in the western half of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. It translates to reduced costs because the water is cheaper to treat, because the water going into the reservoir is cleaner."
Andrews says that in the past decade, TRWD has provided grant funding to 195 property owners in the Richland Creek watershed engaged in 1,225 different management projects to improve water quality. On the 77 Ranch, this includes incentives to put up cross fencing to facilitate rotational cattle grazing, build water impoundments, and plant native grasses. The district's Mill Creek Watershed Project is coordinated with USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) grants to ranchers. The Prices put their own time and money into the projects, for which they get some reimbursement.
"The key for me was when I realized about water cycles," Price said. "You can never control how much water you get, but you can control how much you keep. When you see that and understand it, it's going to completely overhaul your land management. What we used to call weeds can be very beneficial plants."
The recent drought complicated everything. Price said it was the most severe they'd seen in 30 years--the ranch had stock tanks and lakes run dry that had never been dry. The past two years in particular brought extreme drought to the area, and the Prices came very close to selling all of their cattle last fall. Fortunately, rain finally began to fall this spring, filling up tanks and lakes.
"When you lose production, you lose income, and trying to balance financial needs with protecting natural resources can be quite a challenge," Price said. "But we know that by protecting the resource, when we finally do get water, the country is going to respond better and we're better off in the end. We're not looking for any short-term gains; we're in it for the long-term."
The pride of the 77 Ranch is a remnant patch of Blackland Prairie in the north pasture, some of the last unbroken sod in the region, land that's never been plowed. The Blackland Prairie ecological region, named for its rich black soil, extends from North Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, down into Central Texas. Today, only a tiny percentage of this habitat remains untouched. Biologists can tell the Prices' north pasture contains some of this original native prairie because of the mix of plants there, including rattlesnake master, a 3-to-4 foot tall yucca-like plant, and ground plums, a low-growing forb or herbaceous flowering plant.
"To see those plants and grasses and their ability to produce a lot of animal forage and respond in all different drought situations, it's really shown me what the potential of the land can be," Price said. "Many people have said that's how this land probably looked when the bison roamed through here. And that's what we're trying to simulate with rotational cattle grazing."
The Prices have some pasture land inherited from previous owners covered with non-native coastal bermuda grass, a low-growing turf grass introduced as cattle forage. But in recent years they've gravitated toward tall native bunch grasses, planting or protecting classic prairie species like eastern gamma grass, sideoats grama and big and little bluestem. This benefits not only water resources but wildlife as well.
One beneficiary is the bobwhite quail, a popular game bird emerging as a poster child for native grassland restoration across Texas. Like many places in Texas, the 77 Ranch used to have a lot of quail here, and years ago hosted hunters from the Metroplex, but in recent years few wild quail have been seen. Across Texas, numbers and distribution of quail have declined in recent years, primarily due to loss of native grassland habitat. The Prices have helped enlist their neighbors to reverse that trend by forming the Western Navarro Bobwhite Quail Initiative of about 20,000 acres in western Navarro County.
"All of us are cattle producers, but we're showing how it's not either-or," Price said. "Good native grasses and plants can provide high-nutrient, drought-tolerant cattle forage, and also provide good quail habitat."
Price says the 77 Ranch got its name "from an old cowboy from San Saba, Lee Low." The Prices bought their first 300 acres from Low in 1976. "It was his father's brand back in the 1800s," Price said. "His only son had died suddenly, and he wanted to sell me the place. That's how we got started, and we've been able to add to that, and have almost bought a little bit of land every year."
This year's 12th annual Lone Star Land Steward Awards recognize and honor private landowners for their accomplishments in habitat management and wildlife conservation. The program is designed to educate landowners and the public and to encourage participation in habitat conservation. TPWD's primary partner in the awards is Sand County Foundation, with sponsors that include Texas Wildlife Association, Alcoa Rockdale Operations, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Farm Bureau and H. Yturria Land and Cattle Co.
The Leopold Conservation Award honors the legacy of Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), considered the father of wildlife ecology. His collection of essays, "A Sand County Almanac," remains one of the world's best-selling natural history books. Leopold's godson, Reed Coleman, formed Sand County Foundation in 1965 to protect the Leopold farm from encroaching lot development along the Wisconsin River.
"We are proud to, once again, participate in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Lone Star Land Steward Awards program," said Dr. Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation president. "Texas has a great tradition of private landowners who practice sustainable conservation. The Leopold Conservation Award is an opportunity for us to honor their work."
More information, including how to nominate property owners for awards, is online. Nominations are accepted June 1 through Nov. 30 each year for the following year's awards program.
---
On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/land/private/lone_star_land_steward/
http://www.sandcounty.net/
77 Ranch Photos: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
May 21, 2007
Family Events Highlight Free Fishing Day June 2
AUSTIN, Texas -- A "Free Sportfishing Day" will highlight National Fishing and Boating Week, allowing anglers to fish any public waters in Texas without a fishing license on Saturday, June 2.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials said the special day in this state, authorized by the Texas Legislature, is intended to promote fishing and encourage people to enjoy the state's fishing resources. Both resident and nonresident recreational anglers will be allowed to fish without a license and will not be required to have special stamps such as the saltwater or freshwater fishing stamps.
The seventh annual National Fishing and Boating Week is June 2-10 with thousands of local events in communities across the country. Events will provide hands-on opportunities for families and friends to share fun, quality time together while learning about two of our nation's favorite pastimes -- boating and fishing.
Numerous youth fishing activities are scheduled around the state during National Fishing and Boating Week, including special fishing events in state parks and fish stockings in community lakes. Park entry and facility use fees will still apply for those who wish to fish in state parks. Camping reservations are recommended.
National Fishing and Boating Week is a key component of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation's national awareness campaign, Take Me Fishing. Funded by the federal government's Sport Fish Restoration Program, the non-profit Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation was created to increase participation in fishing and boating and focus attention on the need to protect the nation's aquatic resources.
Similarly, TPWD fisheries and state park officials began the Free Fishing in State Parks program a few years ago to encourage folks to fish and visit state parks. The program, which is currently set to run through August 2008 but may be extended for future years, allows anyone to fish inside a Texas state park without a fishing license.
Texas also offers a wide variety of urban fishing opportunities. Fun fishing can be found on the various lakes and along the banks around some of Texas' metropolitan areas -- Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. Shore and bank fishing sites can be found on many small urban lakes, as well as the bays and the Gulf of Mexico. Some sites have public piers and handicap access, and are set up to accommodate large groups, such as at state parks, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson.
Following is a calendar of special events coordinated by TPWD during Free Fishing Day on June 2:
Bastrop State Park -- Jr. Angler Fishing Clinic -- Let's go fishing! Instructors will be teaching the basics of freshwater fishing and giving out prizes. After new anglers complete all learning stations, the kids will become Certified Junior Anglers and we will all go fishing. Open to boys and girls ages 6-13. Fishing rods, reels and bait supplied; bring drinking water, hat, closed-toed shoes, insect repellent and sunblock. Kids should be accompanied by parent or guardian. 9 a.m.-noon (512) 321-2101.
Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway -- Fishing Fun -- Bring the family and cast your lines for largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie and sunfish in tranquil Lake Theo. There will be a fishing derby for kids 12 and under with prizes awarded in various categories. Fishing license requirements and park entry fees waived for participants. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; call for more information (806) 455-1492.
Cedar Hill State Park -- Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby -- Kids can test their fishing skills. Casting, reeling and hitting the target are all part of the fun. Lots of door prizes will be given away at the end of the event. Food and drinks are available for purchase. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (972) 291-3900 Ext. 232
Coastal Conservation Association/Central Power and Light Marine Development Center State Fish Hatchery -- National Fishing Day -- Come and enjoy an open house to celebrate National Fishing Day. Visitors will have an opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art hatchery and learn about the marine stock enhancement program and are invited to participate in catch-and-release fishing in two stocked hatchery ponds. Bring fishing poles and bait due to the limited supply on-site. 8 a.m. noon (361) 939-7784.
Eisenhower State Park -- 4-H Kids Fishing Derby -- Come and fish beautiful Lake Texoma with the experts for fun, awards and prizes. This is a great way for families to take kids fishing for free with everything provided, including lots of help from expert anglers. Tackle available or bring your own. Fishing 8 a.m.-noon, prizes and activities noon-2 p.m. (903) 465-1956.
Fairfield Lake State Park -- 5th Annual Kid's Fishing Derby -- Kids ages 2-16 fish for lots of great prizes and enjoy free food and drinks. 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (903) 389-4514.
Lake Arrowhead State Park -- 15th Annual Kid Fishing Tournament -- Prizes, donated by local businesses, awarded in different age groups. For ages 3-16. A limited number of fishing poles and bait are available. Adults may assist, but not catch fish for kids. Sign up at the Group Dining Hall. 2-4 p.m. Annual Rough Fish Contest -- Prizes, donated by local businesses, will be awarded in different categories. For ages 17 and older; sign up at the Group Dining Hall; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; sign up fee $2 per person (940) 528-2211.
Lake Livingston State Park -- Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby -- Kids of all ages, join us for some fishing fun and maybe win a prize! There will be prizes awarded in different age groups. Attendees should bring their own tackle. 7 a.m.-noon (936) 365-2201.
Lake Texana State Park -- Fishing Fun Day -- Celebrate National Free Fishing Day fishing at the Day Pier with a ranger. Bait and cane poles provided; no fishing license needed. Afterwards, come to the Nature Center for more fun with a clinic that includes fish printing, casting, knot tying and fish identification. Fishing 9 a.m.-noon, clinic 2-3:30 p.m. (361) 782-5718.
Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historical Site -- Annual Fishing Day -- Bring the children for a morning filled with fun, fishing and a fantastic fishing clinic held on the banks of the Pedernales River. Fishing equipment and worms provided or bring your own equipment and favorite bait. There will be drawings for door prizes. This event is co-sponsored with Fredericksburg Wal-Mart. 10 a.m.-noon (830) 644-2252.
Purtis Creek State Park -- Adam Reilly's Take a Kid Fishing -- Fishing is only half the fun! The day will also include a free hot dog lunch, door prizes, fishing clinics, kid fishing tournament, climbing wall, archery and paddle boats. 8 a.m.-noon (903) 425-2332.
Ray Roberts Lake State Park/Isle du Bois Unit -- Wal-Mart Kids All-American Fishing Derby -- Bring the kids and your equipment, and go fishing at the pier! Enjoy free fishing with door prizes every 20 minutes, free kids goodie bags, angling advice and assistance, exhibits and more. 9 a.m.-noon (940) 686-2148.
Sea Center Texas -- Youth Fishing -- Be sure to pack sunscreen, hat, lawn chair and fishing gear for a couple of hours of catch-and-release fishing at the marine fish hatchery and visitor education center. This event is open to guests ages 16 and younger should accompanied by an adult. Anglers must bring their own gear and bait with barb-less hooks, no artificial bait or treble hooks. Volunteers and staff will be on hand to assist first-time anglers. 8-10 a.m. (979) 292-0100.
Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center -- National Fishing Day -- Celebrate National Fishing Week with a fun day filled with fishing contests, games, food and door prizes for kids. Regular admission for adults. Children 12 and under free. 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. (903) 676-BASS.
---
On the Net:
Free Fishing Photos for News Media: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/?g=free_fishing_in_state_parks
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov ] [RM]
May 21, 2007
Monahans Sandhills State Park Celebrates 50 Years
MONAHANS, Texas -- The year was 1957. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. The Russians launched Sputnik. The most popular movie was The Ten Commandments. Texas A&M's John David Crow won the Heisman Trophy. And, Monahans Sandhills State Park opened to the public west of Odessa.
This giant sandbox of a park -- 3,840 acres of shifting sand dunes -- celebrates its 50th anniversary on Saturday, May 26 with a host of festivities that will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
On hand to help celebrate Monahans Sandhills' golden anniversary will be Kathleen Dunagan, 93, who along with her late husband Conrad, helped raise endowment funds to keep the park operating when it was in danger of being shut down.
"I've been working on this event since January," said Theresa Burnett, Monahans Chamber of Commerce executive director. "Mrs. Dunagan's request to the board was that we put on a big celebration, and we're happy to do it."
The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a color guard and firing of a Civil War era cannon. Highlights of the festival will be a kite-flying contest for all age groups, a beach sand volleyball tournament, cross country fun run, slip n' slide, Relay for Life and an appearance by a professional sand surfer. An evening barbecue dinner will be followed by a concert and star party that concludes at 10 p.m.
The state park offers the only public access to a 200-mile stretch of a massive sand dune field that stretches northwestward from Crane County about 20 miles south of the park into southeastern New Mexico. Some of the dunes, popular with sand surfers, rise 70 feet. Sand disk riding and camel treks are just a couple of the many activities to be enjoyed at this unique park championed by the late Texas literary icon and naturalist Roy Bedichek.
For more information about the 50th anniversary celebration, call the chamber at (432) 943-2187 or the state park at (432) 943-2092.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [SB]
[ Additional Contacts: Sarah Bibbs, (512) 389-4577, sarah.bibbs@tpwd.texas.gov; Tom Harvey, (512) 389-4453, tom.harve@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 21, 2007
Wildlife Conservation Center Opens at Gus Engeling WMA
TENNESSEE COLONY, Texas -- For more than half a century, the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area in Anderson County has been dedicated to wildlife research and habitat conservation.
To provide a place for future generations of environmentally-conscious Texans to learn about proper land management practices, the WMA recently opened the Gus A. Engeling Wildlife Conservation Center.
The 4,200-square-foot, handicapped-accessible facility will serve a variety of purposes, but the main function of the conservation center will be to educate private landowners and area youth.
"Most of Texas land is privately owned, so to have an impact on wildlife, conservation has to occur on private property," said Hayden Haucke, Gus Engeling WMA manager with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
According to Haucke, the Gus A. Engeling Wildlife Conservation Center is a great launching pad for in-the-field training.
"What's unique about this site is that you can use the facility and then go out and actually see the important conservation features on the landscape," said Haucke.
Gus Engeling WMA is an 11,000-acre property in the Post-Oak Savannah eco-region of East Texas near Palestine. Four pitcher plant bogs, relict pine sites, Catfish Creek and upland savannah restoration sites are some of the ecological highlights of the property.
Interpretive self-guided nature trails are open to visitors and a brochure outlining a self-guided automobile driving tour is also available. The driving tour takes visitors through 10 stops that address wildlife, habitat and management techniques. Nature viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking, camping and hunting opportunities are also available at the Gus Engeling WMA.
The new Gus A. Engeling Wildlife Conservation Center is located just off the facility's main road. The center's meeting area can provide seating for approximately 120 individuals, and is open to TPWD partners and educational personnel through advance reservation.
More information on Engeling WMA is on the TPWD Web site. To obtain further information regarding the use of the Gus A. Engeling Wildlife Conservation Center, phone the WMA at (903) 928-2251.
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/hunt/wma/find_a_wma/list/?id=10
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [LH]
[ Additional Contacts: Mona Farmer, (903) 670-2228, mona.farmer@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 21, 2007
Lufkin Doctor Named to Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame
ATHENS, Texas--The late William B. ("Doc") Shelton of Lufkin has been elected to the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Nominated in the angler category, Dr. Shelton was recognized for his efforts to promote fishing and to protect the environment. He was also cited for his work in getting young people involved in fishing.
Shelton participated in the oldest bass fishing tournament in the United States, the Texas State Bass Tournament, for 41 consecutive years. As a member of that organization's steering committee, he helped revitalize the tournament in the late 1990s. In 2000 he was selected as a State Tournament Legend and made a member of the Texas State Bass Tournament Hall of Fame.
With his wife, Emily, Shelton was a founder of the His and Hers Couples Bass Club of Lufkin. He was also a member of the Saturday Anglers Bass Club and the Lufkin Bass Club. He received the Texas Association of Bass Clubs highest honor, the Mac Payne Memorial Award, for his contributions to the sport of bass fishing.
As president of the Friends of Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Shelton led an effort to raise public awareness of the importance of maintaining water quality in the reservoir. He also worked to have public recreational facilities around the lake improved.
One of Shelton's favorite projects was the Bass Brigade, a youth leadership program of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Wildlife Association that teaches high school students about aquatic ecosystems and natural resource management. He attended the brigade's summer camp each year, serving as a mentor and camp coordinator.
Dr. Shelton's professional life was equally busy and outstanding. He served as a radiologist/radiation oncologist at the Memorial Health System of East Texas in Lufkin for 22 years. He held positions such as president of the Angelina County Medical Society, district director of the American Cancer Society and associate director of Hospice in the Pines in Lufkin. He was instrumental in creating the Arthur Temple, Sr., Regional Cancer Center in Lufkin, where he served as medical director from 1989 until his retirement. In 1994 he blended his interests in fishing and medicine and created his Totally Awesome Fishing Adventure, a bass tournament that raises money to benefit cancer patients.
His close friend and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commissioner John D. Parker of Lufkin said in his letter in support of Shelton's nomination, "Our mutual passion was wildlife conservation. Dr. Shelton was an involved co-worker with me in every conservation effort in Deep East Texas, including Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, Friends of Quail, Bobwhite Brigade, Cherokee Wildlife Association, and Angelina Wildlife Association."
Dr. Shelton passed away in 2006. He will be posthumously inducted into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens on June 2, 2007. The Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame honors legendary anglers, fisheries professionals and organizations that have made a contribution to freshwater fishing in Texas.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
May 21, 2007
Nationally Known Photographer to Hold Workshop at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center
ATHENS, Texas--Famed photographer Wyman Meinzer will hold an unusual digital photography workshop at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center July 4, 2007.
Taking advantage of the fact that TFFC hosts one of the largest fireworks displays in East Texas each July 4, Meinzer will concentrate on how to take photographs of sunsets, fireworks and other subjects in low-light conditions. Class participants will be able to shoot fireworks photographs from a close vantage point and will also have the opportunity to photograph visitors fishing and picnicking prior to the fireworks show.
The class will run from approximately 3:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Registration fee of $195 covers all course costs; admission to TFFC; and watermelon, ice cream and hot dog feasts. Students must provide their own equipment.
Deadline for registration is June 20. Phone registration is available by calling (903) 676-2277, or a form may be downloaded from the TPWD Web site.
---
On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/education/special/photography.phtml
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
May 21, 2007
Scientists Offer Tips for Dealing With Bats
AUSTIN, Texas -- Millions of Mexican free-tailed bats are returning to Texas from their winter homes in Mexico, and while research is revealing an increasing number of bat benefits, scientists say there are some common-sense steps schools, businesses and homeowners can take to coexist peacefully with bat visitors.
The bats return to the southwestern U.S. each year where they will spend the summer raising their young. Each mother gives birth to a single baby called a pup. At the first signs of cold weather in the fall, they will begin returning to warmer Mexico.
Research has shown Mexican free-tailed bats gobble up moths that lay eggs on crops, eggs that develop into larvae that eat cotton, corn, and other important agricultural plants. University researchers have documented that this can save farmers significant dollars in avoided crop losses and decrease the need for pesticides.
"While we are happy to see the bats arrive in Texas each year, they sometimes take up residence in places where they are unwelcome," said Barbara French, conservation officer with the nonprofit Bat Conservation International.
"A few bats in an attic are not likely to be a problem, but bats should not be allowed to enter interior living or working quarters. When necessary, bats can be safely evicted from buildings using proper bat exclusion methods. Openings used by bats to exit the building can be fitted with a valve, generally a simple smooth tube or netting through which bats are able to exit but not re-enter the building. Valves should be left in place for one week to make certain all bats have gotten out, and then openings can be permanently sealed shut," French said.
Proper bat exclusion techniques protect both people and the bats. For more information about proper bat exclusion techniques, see the Bat Conservation International Web site, click on "projects" and then "bats in buildings."
"If you want to keep these voracious insect predators around, you can install a bat house near the place they are living before evicting them," said Meg Goodman, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department bat biologist. "When the bats are unable to get back into the building, they will have an alternative roost."
Building bat houses is a great project for schools and Scout troops, Goodman said. Wood shop classes can get involved and once the bat house is installed, classes can observe the bats and monitor their own bat colony. For more information about bat houses, visit BCI's Web site under "projects" then "bat houses."
While it is true that some animals, including bats, contract rabies, Goodman said people should keep this in perspective. She said less than one half of one percent of bats in natural populations get rabies.
"But always be safe," Goodman emphasized. "Do not handle bats, and educate children about the dangers of approaching any wild animal."
Mexican free-tailed bats form large colonies in bridges and caves throughout the southwest and make spectacular nightly emergences in the summer.
Texans are proud of their unique bat colonies. For more information about when and where to see bat emergences, visit the BCI Web site under "Discover" then "Texas Viewing" or see the TPWD Web site Nature pages.
Property owners or managers, schoolteachers and others may contact Barbara French at french@batcon.org or (512) 327-9721 or Meg Goodman at meg.goodman@tpwd.texas.gov or (512) 912-7042.
---
On the Net:
http://www.batcon.org/
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ] [SB]
[ Additional Contacts: Sarah Bibbs, (512) 389-4577, sarah.bibbs@tpwd.texas.gov; Tom Harvey, (512) 389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 21, 2007
Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Basic intelligence departs with sobriety -- On May 5, A Marion County game warden arrested a subject on Lake O' the Pines for a BWI. The subject claimed to have a college degree, but when the warden requested he recite the alphabet, the intoxicated individual asked if there was something else he could try.
Acting guilty a good indication -- Patrolling for fishing violations in the Horseshoe Bay area during early May, a warden decided to check some fisherman for compliance and bypassed several others to check some newcomers further down the bank. Shortly after he passed two young men, he noticed them leaving in a hurry. He had seen them arrive just a few minutes earlier. It was quickly discovered that neither had a license.
Padded game warden takes on hawk -- In late April, a priest in Milam County received stitches in his head after being attacked by a red-shouldered hawk. The hawk was protecting her nest in a nearby tree and was a constant threat to the parishioners and the priests. A Milam County game warden was called to solve the problem. Faced with the dilemma of protecting wildlife while also protecting the people, he came up with a plan. The warden used the city's lift-bucket truck to get him high enough to secure the fledging hawks and relocate them to a rehabilitator so the female would leave the area. Dressed in the city dog trainer's padded suit and his ATV helmet and goggles, the warden fended off two attacks by the mother hawk before securing the fledglings. No harm came to the warden or the hawks during the encounter.
Always check the safety -- A Gonzales County warden responded to a hunting accident in a rural portion of the county in early May. An individual who was walking through his property hunting varmints leaned his loaded rifle against a barbed wire fence before attempting to get beyond it. The gun's safety was not on, the trigger caught on a barb, and the man took a shot in the lower abdomen. Luckily, the victim is expected to make a full recovery.
Buyers bid on baby raccoons -- On April 29, a Travis County warden responded to a call about a subject trying to sell baby raccoons on the Internet. When the warden responded anonymously to the online advertisement, the seller said there were six other interested individuals. The game warden then changed tactics and identified himself as a warden. He convinced the seller to meet him and bring the last, unsold raccoon to the meeting. The raccoon was turned over to a rehabber and charges are pending.
Tornadoes not good for fishing -- A Brady game warden was called to assist local police who were searching for a man reported missing on Brady Lake during a tornado threat. The boater, apparently in a kayak when the storm blew in, was found taking shelter in an abandoned boat house. All parties quickly got off the water, and the man promised never again to collect mussels during a tornado.
If the mirror fits -- On April 30, an Edwards County game warden was patrolling the north part of his county when he observed several knocked-down, run-over road signs. Next to one of the signs, he located a side mirror and kept it as evidence. He then proceeded to the local high school where he found a vehicle with considerable damage and a missing driver-side mirror. The warden's evidence matched perfectly. Statements were taken from the driver and passenger of the vehicle. Twenty-one signs and one deer were run over during the teenagers' night of destruction.
Rowdy steer gets bulldogged -- A Lubbock County game warden received a call for assistance from the Lubbock Police Department in late April after a 400-pound steer escaped from animal control officers and went on a rampage near downtown Lubbock. The warden arrived just after the steer had climbed over a Mercedes Benz at a local dealership. The warden and a police officer teamed up and managed to wrestle the steer to the ground. Animal control officers were then able to load and remove the steer to a more secure location.
Speeding citation only skimmed surface -- April 19th, a Freestone County game warden stopped a reckless driver who had been issued a speeding ticket by a state trooper less than 20 minutes prior. The subject was arrested for driving with a suspended license, possession of methamphetamine and reckless driving. When the warden asked why his truck was in such bad shape, the driver said he had intentionally run over four deer because his friends needed the meat. Later, the individual gave a videotaped statement about two of the four deer and implicated two other people. Apparently unaware of the consequences, the arrested subject also made a statement to the jailer about throwing a bag of marijuana out the window before he was stopped. Sure enough, when the warden returned to the scene, he found the ditched bag of marijuana. An additional felony charge of tampering with evidence was filed. The investigation regarding the dead deer continues.
Warden prompts lawyer's backpedal -- A Kimble County game warden, continuing an open investigation on two suspects involved in harvesting an axis deer and two black buck antelopes without landowner consent, interviewed the younger of the two suspects via telephone in mid April. Shortly thereafter, the older suspect (who happened to be an attorney and soon-to-be father-in-law of the younger suspect) called the warden. The attorney/suspect accused the warden of violations of attorney-client privilege and playing favorites, but the warden wasn't having it. He explained to the lawyer that intimidation tactics would not be tolerated and would not have any influence on the investigation. Consequently, the attorney quickly changed his tune and said they would be willing to make restitution on the animals. The warden is following up with the landowner and the county attorney to present the case.
Warden gets play-by-play cell-phone S.O.S -- On April 14, a Matagorda County game warden received a call from an individual who said a female friend of his and a teenage boy had called him because they were stuck in Matagorda Bay. While the warden was en route, the individual called back to let him know the stranded motorists were taking on water. A few minutes later he called again because they were sinking. He then called once more to say that they were capsized and hanging on to the keel. A rescue was made and no one was injured.
Pyros or Insurance Fraud? -- At approximately 1:00 a.m. on April 12, a Montgomery County game warden was patrolling near the San Jacinto River and the Spring Creek area where he observed two vehicles pull onto an isolated, dead-end lane. The warden followed, and after observing for a bit of time, one automobile suddenly burst into flames. The light from the fire made the warden visible, and the subjects quickly fled. The warden pursued and stopped the vehicle, got the driver out, and kept the other passengers at gunpoint until backup officers arrived. Investigation into the burning vehicle is ongoing.
Reckless recreation endangers neighbor -- A Schleicher County game warden responded to a call from a shaken individual who stated that his vehicle and house had been shot. The warden visited the caller's residence and then proceeded to the property in the general direction from where the shots had come. There, he encountered two men and a woman. They admitted to shooting in the general direction of the complainant's house, which was clearly visible, but stated they did not think the bullets would travel that far. They had also shot numerous holes into a nearby vacant house. The warden picked up 179 empty 9mm shell casings and counted 79 holes in the wall of the vacant house.
-30-