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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-07-11                                    |
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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: Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
July 11, 2013
Special Issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine Focuses on Agency's Past and Future as it Turns 50
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department marks its 50th anniversary this summer with a special issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. The magazine tips a figurative Stetson to the various partners who helped further the agency's conservation mission over the last five decades, and looks ahead to the next half century.
Anyone can see the special issue at www.lifesbetteroutside.org, where online readers can receive a complimentary copy of the 50th anniversary magazine and a free Life's Better Outside window decal by signing up to become a Texas Parks and Wildlife ambassador.
The 74-page special issue includes articles on the agency's history, accomplishments and partners. Also featured are vintage black and white photos along with striking color images of some of the people, places and things that make the Texas outdoors special.
While the department traces its heritage to 1895, with the creation of the Fish and Oyster Commission, the special issue points out how the modern history of TPWD dates to 1963. That's when the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 21, a measure introduced by Weatherford State Rep. James M. Cotton. The bill, pushed by Gov. John B. Connally as part of his campaign to modernize state government, merged the Game and Fish Commission with the State Parks Board. The final bill passed in the Senate in early April and Connally later signed it into law with an effective date of Aug. 23.
In "The Next 50 Years," TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith looks toward the agency's next half-century.
"We can't and won't rest on our laurels," Smith writes. "The state is growing by leaps and bounds, and TPWD must contend not only with burgeoning pressures on our fish and wildlife populations and their habitats, but also with a citizenry that is more urban, more diverse and more disconnected from the outdoors than any previous generation."
In coming years, he writes, the department will face a wide variety of issues ranging from loss of wildlife habitat to the availability of water. State parks will have to be maintained and improved, and new park land acquired.
"The essential work of your Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will always be measured in generational terms, not in short-term fiscal cycles," Smith concludes. "In many ways, it is tantamount to the timeless parable about planting a tree so that someone else can enjoy the shade it ultimately provides." The 50th anniversary website www.lifesbetteroutside.org features stories and photos already submitted by people across the state. The department is inviting people to submit stories and photos about their best outdoor memories in Texas and sign up to become ambassadors, pledging to do things like visit a state park, take a kid hunting or fishing, and watch and share a video showcasing what's made life better outside in Texas.
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On the Net:
TPWD 50th Anniversary Web Pages: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/features/50years/
News Roundup: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/news_roundup/tpwd_50th_anniversary/
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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: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ] [TH]
July 11, 2013
International Enforcement Operation Exposes Web-based Wildlife Trafficking in Texas and Nationwide
AUSTIN - Scores of illegal wildlife traffickers face federal and state charges for selling protected species online last summer.The cases result from a coordinated undercover law enforcement operation conducted simultaneously by Texas game wardens, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other states and federal agencies, and three Asian countries.
Operation Wild Web, a coordinated effort between the USFWS and the other participating agencies, resulted in more than 150 arrests involving federal wildlife crimes.
"We are proud Texas played a vital role in this operation; we assigned 30 game wardens and led the nation in charges filed, including 61 state and federal cases," said Grahame Jones, TPWD Law Enforcement chief of special operations. That included 20 cases in Houston, 16 in Austin, and 25 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"Texas game wardens, including our covert unit, have been steadily increasing their use of the internet and technology in general to solve wildlife crimes and I am extremely proud of their work," Jones added. "This week, CNN reported the western black rhinoceros has officially become extinct. Unfortunately, that's a very poignant example of why our officers focus on the sale of protected wildlife and wildlife parts. These are global problems that require team coordination with every state and nation."
"Our message is simple and the same: The internet is not an open marketplace for protected species," said Edward Grace, USFWS deputy assistant director for law enforcement. "State partners were essential to the success of this operation, and that cooperation remains critical to disrupting wildlife trafficking on the Web and elsewhere."
Wildlife and wildlife products seized in Texas during Operation Wild Web included a Russian Amur leopard pelt, Hartmann's mountain zebra skin, hawksbill sea turtle, Texas tortoises (a threatened species), invasive freshwater stingrays, and numerous illegal and non-native invasive snakes.
"The unregulated commercialization of wildlife resources could lead to the loss of many of our state treasures, whether it is thru the removal of native species or introduction of non- native invasive species that would harm native habitats or species," said Capt. Greg Williford, who leads TPWD's Criminal Investigative Division.
Seven cases were charged in Thailand and Indonesia where animals and parts of animals - such as leopards, tigers, Great Hornbills and Javan eagles - were sold through the Internet.
Federal laws regulating the sale of wildlife include the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (which both prohibit any commercialization of protected birds); 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).
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