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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-03-20                                    |
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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: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
March 20, 2013
Whooping Crane Migration Watch Gets Under Way
AUSTIN -- Heralding an early start to spring, whooping cranes began breaking camp at wintering grounds in Texas sooner than usual and are making their way back north.
Wildlife officials are asking the public join Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Texas Whooper Watch effort and watch for the endangered birds as they close out an unusual winter season in the state.
Whooping cranes traditionally winter in coastal Texas on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and nearby areas, and that site continues to be the primary winter home of the flock that now numbers around 280 birds; however, a significant number of whooping cranes explored new wintering areas in 2012-13.
Among the nomadic whoopers, at least two whoopers spent most of the winter in Matagorda County near Collegeport, at least five were observed wintering in Wharton County near El Campo and Louise, and at least 10 whoopers occupied country far from the coast in Williamson County near Granger Lake. In addition, several individual sightings of whooping cranes were reported in Lavaca County and as far north as Wilbarger County.
Some of those "non-traditional" whooping cranes also broke with migration tradition this year, said Lee Ann Johnson Linam, a wildlife diversity biologist with TPWD.
"Normally, whooping crane spring migration begins in late March, with nearly all birds departing for the nesting grounds in Canada by mid-April," she noted. "However, a USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) radio-tracking study and observations by volunteers with Texas Whooper Watch detected an earlier start to migration this year."
Some of the Granger Lake whooping cranes departed their wintering grounds as early as February 24 and have already reached northern Nebraska, some of the Wharton County birds are also in northern Nebraska, and one Granger Lake bird that departed on March 12 had already reach the South Dakota border by March 18.
The new patterns for whooping cranes are an interesting development, according to Linam. As the whooping crane population that winters in Texas continues to recover, it is a healthy sign that the species is exploring new wintering grounds.
"The expansion of whooping cranes that we saw last winter and this winter brings new challenges, such as public awareness, adjusting management strategies, and trying to obtain population estimates," she said. "But there is additional security in not having the species concentrated at one location."
Linam also noted that the expansion has been a success in terms of winter survival on non-traditional sites, landowner acceptance, and public enthusiasm for additional opportunities to view whooping cranes.
"In fact, while two whooping crane mortalities were documented on the traditional wintering grounds this year, no mortalities were reported from non-traditional sites," said Linam. "On the other hand, little is known about how well these cranes fare when they return to the nesting grounds. More information is needed on productivity of whooping cranes wintering in agricultural areas and whether food issues contribute to an earlier departure time."
Whoopers usually follow a migratory path through North and Central Texas that includes cities such as Victoria, Austin, Waco, Fort Worth and Wichita Falls. During migration they often pause overnight to use wetlands for roosting and agricultural fields for feeding, but seldom remain more than one night. They nearly always migrate in small groups of less than 6-8 birds, but they may be seen roosting and feeding with large flocks of the smaller sandhill crane. They are the tallest birds in North America, standing nearly five feet tall. They are solid white in color except for black wing-tips that are visible only in flight. They fly with necks and legs outstretched.
Texans can help by reporting sightings of Whooping Cranes and by preventing disturbance of cranes when they remain overnight at roosting and feeding locations. Sightings can be reported to whoopingcranes@tpwd.texas.gov or 512-389-TXWW (8999). Observers are asked especially to note whether the cranes have colored leg bands on their legs.
Additional information, including photos of Whooping Crane look-alike species, can be found at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/whoopingcranes/ and at http://www.whoopingcrane.com/report-a-sighting/.
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[ Note: This item is more than a year old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Larry Hodge, (903) 670-2255, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov; Jim Booker, (903) 670-2266, james.booker@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 20, 2013
Get Ready for Summer Fun at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center April 6
ATHENS--The annual Outdoor Fools Day event at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens has two goals: To let you know what's out there to enjoy, and to teach you how to do it.
Do you want to go camping? Kayaking? Fly-fishing? Cook gourmet campfire meals? Or maybe birding is your thing, or archery, or just learning about the animals that live in our woods and waters.
Outdoor Fools Day will help you develop your skills and increase your knowledge in all those areas -- not by listening to someone talk about doing them, but by doing them yourself under the direction of a skilled expert.
Staff from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's State Parks Division will show you how to set up camp. Fly-fishing experts will help you tie a fly and catch a rainbow trout with it in TFFC's casting pond, and then a park ranger will help you clean it and cook it.
How to eat it you will have to figure out for yourself.
If learning to shoot a bow and arrow is on your list, the Lone Star Bowhunters will show you how and let you practice target shooting at life-size replicas of deer, turkeys and feral hogs.
Other stations will let you construct and shoot off a paper-and-duct-tape rocket using compressed air; sample tasty foods cooked in a Dutch oven; see fish swimming in a glass-bottomed stream; touch a variety of salt-water creatures; see skins, tracks and skulls of predator and prey animals and learn how tracking dogs are used to locate wounded game.
In addition, live animal displays will let you get up close to reptiles and raptors. Wildlife on the Move will present reptiles from around the world at noon and 3:00 p.m. and give anyone who dares the chance to touch a 14-foot snake. The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center will present a raptor show at 1:00 p.m. and also conduct walk-around displays on the grounds. Regularly scheduled dive shows in which a diver hand-feeds fish will take place at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Outdoor Fools Day is sponsored by Wulf Outdoor Sports; Schneider Electric; FutureMatrix, Inc.; Citizens National Bank; First State Bank; Red Hat Rentals; Aaron's Sales and Lease; Best Western--Royal Mountain Inn; Holiday Inn Express--Athens; Super 8--Athens; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Friends of TFFC.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is located at 5550 F.M. 2495, about four miles east of Athens. Outdoor Fools Day will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All events are included with paid admission, which is $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors and $3.50 for children ages four through 12. For more information call (903) 676-2277 or visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tffc
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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: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
March 20, 2013
Lake Amon G. Carter Produces Toyota ShareLunker 546
ATHENS--Once again an angler has proved it's not the size of the lake that counts, it's the size of the fish in the lake--at least when it comes to catching big bass.
On the morning of March 19 Johnny Spruiell of Iowa Park was fishing in three feet of water in South East Cove when a 13.75-pound bass took his 7-inch Power Worm. The fish was 26.5 inches long and 21 inches in girth and is now Toyota ShareLunker 546.
Lake Amon G. Carter is operated by the City of Bowie. The 1,848-acre lake is served by two boat ramps. It has a history of producing big bass in mid-March. The lake record, a 14.44-pounder, was caught March 15, 1996. On March 13, 1998, it produced ShareLunker 272, a 14.31-pounder.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocked Lake Amon G. Carter with both northern largemouth bass and Florida largemouth bass beginning in 1971. Since 1985 all stockings have been Florida largemouth bass; most recently in 2000 and 2001.
"The reservoir boasts quality habitat in the form of rocky shoreline and boulders, native emergent vegetation and standing dead timber," said TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist Todd Robinson. "The reservoir also sports a robust prey base of threadfin shad and bluegill. Food, cover, water, and space, all suitably arranged, provide most fish and wildlife what is required for a healthy population, and the Florida largemouth bass fingerlings stocked in 2000 and 2001 are now reaching the age where they can achieve ShareLunker size."
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked back into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.
Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
The person who catches the season's largest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis. The package includes a G. Loomis GLX854C jig and worm rod, a Shimano Chronarch 200E7 casting reel and a spool of Power Pro super-braid fishing line. If a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the season, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license. The current leader in the race for Angler of the Year is Richard Scibek of Granbury, who caught a 16.04-pounder from Lake Fork February 2.
So far there have been 10 entries into the ShareLunker program during the current season. March typically produces the majority of the entries as fish move shallow to spawn and become more vulnerable to angling.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year's season, see www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, is posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker
http://www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram
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