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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-09-11                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 11 months 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]
Sept. 11, 2013
Texas Early Teal Hunting Season Opens Saturday
AUSTIN - Texas duck hunters are bracing for another warm and dry early teal season opener. The teal are doing likewise.
Current observations indicate good numbers of blue-winged teal still remain in the northern breeding grounds, but those birds are expected to begin moving this way as cool fronts start to develop and hunting seasons in those regions get under way.
New this season, Texas hunters can take up to six teal daily, an increase in the daily bag limit of two from previous seasons. The possession limits for all migratory game birds has also increased and is now three times the daily limit, which cannot be applied obviously before the third day of the season. For ducks, including teal during the early Sept. 14-29 season, the possession limit is 18.
For many Texas duck hunters, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Annual Public Hunting Permit (APH) Program allows economical access to quality hunting on the state's wildlife management areas (WMA). With a $48 APH, available for purchase wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, hunters have regular access during the season to some of the state's prime managed wetland habitat. The hunting is typically good, but as TPWD biologists are quick to point out, there are no guarantees when it comes to migrating ducks.
"I am hearing of teal showing up on the coastal prairie in good numbers one day only to be gone the next," said TPWD Waterfowl Program Leader Kevin Kraai. "Some people are getting nervous."
"I never get nervous about teal season, retorted Jim Sutherlin, TPWD's Upper Coast Wetland Ecosystem Project Leader. "Our early bluewings are about a week or so late, possibly an effect of the late cool spring weather we have experienced."
Sutherlin said blue-winged teal finally showed up on the Big Hill Unit of the Murphree WMA early last week. "We will have teal to shoot on September 14, but teal numbers will likely improve on the Upper Coast as the season plays out."
Similar reports have been coming from the middle coast.
"We are seeing a few birds on the mid-coast WMA's but nothing to get excited about just yet," added Matt Nelson, Mid-Coast Wetland Ecosystem Project Leader. "As Jim mentioned, nothing to get nervous about; they'll be here at some point."
Nelson provided a brief synapsis of duck habitat conditions on the three popular wildlife management areas along the middle coast:
Water conditions at the Hurst WMA are fair with very shallow water available in the tidal marsh and little to none in the freshwater impoundments. Mad Island WMA is in a little better shape as it has received a decent amount of rain over the past two weeks and currently has water in the tidal marsh and its impoundments. Guadalupe Delta WMA has a good amount of water in the marsh.
"I expect the crowds to be large at all three areas opening weekend as the hunters have been burning up the phones," predicted Nelson.
In East Texas, teal are showing up on area reservoirs, but don't appear to be holding long.
"We're obviously dry all across eastern and north Texas," said Jared Laing, TPWD waterfowl biologist for East Texas. "I have been seeing handfuls of birds here and there, but have not seen any big numbers yet. Maybe this weak front will push some birds in."
Laing noted most wildlife management areas in East Texas remain dry except Richland Creek WMA, which has several new waterfowl units coming online this year.
Up in the Panhandle region, conditions aren't much better, according to Kraai. "We are holding a few birds up here in the playas at the moment on the few basins that caught water back in July," he noted. "Conditions on average remain below normal, but still much improved over the last few years."
Duck hunters are urged to share observations in the field opening weekend via Twitter at #txtealopener and by following @tpwdhunt.
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[ Note: This item is more than 11 months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Ken Kurzawski, 512-389-4591, ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov; or Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Sept. 11, 2013
New Rules in the Works to Fight Zebra Mussels
AUSTIN - In the state's ongoing effort to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved for public comment new proposed rules requiring that all boats operating on public water in 17 Northeast Texas counties be drained after use.
Zebra mussels became established in Texas in Lake Texoma in 2009. Last year, they were found in Lake Ray Roberts and the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. More recently, zebra mussels have spread to Lake Bridgeport on the West Fork of the Trinity River and into Lake Lewisville. They can expand their range even farther by hitching a ride on trailered boats that have been immersed in waters where they have established populations.
The rapidly reproducing mussels, originally from Eurasia, can have serious economic and recreational impact to Texas reservoirs. They can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls, clog water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water, and make water recreation hazardous because of their sharp edges.
From an environmental perspective, zebra mussels are filter feeders, which means they compete with baitfish such as shad for available forage. Any impact on baitfish in turn can affect their predators -- game fish such as bass, striped bass and catfish. Zebra mussels are also very harmful to native mussel populations because they will colonize on their shells and essentially suffocate them.
The commission's action in their Aug. 21 meeting is the result of additional rule-making authority granted to the TPW commission through House Bill 1241, passed last spring by the 83rd Legislature.
Under the proposed regulations, persons leaving or approaching public water in the affected counties will be required to drain all water from their vessel before leaving the lake. This would apply to all types and sizes of boats, whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, or any other vessel used to travel on public waters.
The proposed rule will apply on all public waters in Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Jack, Kaufman, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Stephens, Tarrant, Wise, and Young counties.
Applicable in all areas where boats can be launched, the regulation would require the draining of live wells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water intake systems coming into contact with public waters.
Activities that would be affected under this proposal are: live fish could not be transported in water that comes from the water body where they were caught; personally caught live bait could only be used in the water body where it was caught; and no off-site tournament weigh-ins would be allowed if live fish are being transported off a body of water in one of the affected counties.
Anglers would be allowed to transport and use commercially purchased live bait in water provided they have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body could only be used as bait on that same water body.
Movement from one access point to another on the same lake during the same day would not require drainage and there is an exception for governmental activities and emergencies. Marine sanitary systems would not be covered by the new regulations.
The public can comment on the proposed rules online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/201311_water_draining.phtml . Comment may also be made in writing to Ken Kurzawski, TPWD Inland Fisheries, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744, by email at ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov, or in person at any of the following three public hearings.
All meetings are set to begin at 7:00 pm.
--Tuesday, October 1 in Fort Worth at Cabela's, 12901 Cabelas Drive.
--Tuesday, October 8 in Denison at the Denison SNAP Center, 531 West Chestnut.
--Wednesday, October 9 in Garland at Bass Pro Shops, 5001 Bass Pro Drive.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is expected to take action on the proposed change at its November 7 meeting.
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[ Note: This item is more than 11 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/). ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 928-2239 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Andy Smith, Battleship TEXAS Manager, TPWD (713) 927-9862 or andy.smith@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Sept. 11, 2013
Department of Homeland Security Robotic Fish Put to Test with Battleship TEXAS
LAPORTE - The Battleship TEXAS, the goodwill ambassador and museum ship that resides at the San Jacinto State Historic site, is back in the business of serving the nation this week -- this time in a new role. The century-old battleship, a formidable warrior that saw the nation through two World Wars, is serving as a testing platform for a six-foot-long robotic fish designed to detect contraband hidden on a ship's hull.
Known as the BIOSwimmer, the technology undergoing testing is a highly maneuverable, unmanned underwater vehicle that is equipped with a sophisticated suite of sensors and embodies the natural shape of a tuna. The demonstration of this underwater robotic search system is a collaborative exercise of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and Boston Engineering.
The test team is planting packages of mock contraband of varying sizes in tight, hard-to-reach spaces on the battleship's hull and putting the BIOSwimmer through the paces to see if it can successfully detect them. The technology demonstration of the BIOSwimmer is taking place from through Friday.
This is the first time the BIOSwimmer, developed by Boston Engineering Corporation's Advanced Systems Group with funding from a Small Business Innovation Research award from DHS S&T, will be tested in an operational marine environment.
"Texas Parks and Wildlife is pleased to make the Battleship TEXAS available to serve the nation in the interests of strengthening port security," says Andy Smith, TPWD's ship manager. "The tests underway this week will be instructive in the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to refine this innovative technology so it may be deployed to make our maritime environment safer. The Battleship TEXAS is showing us that you're never too old to be of service to your country."
The goal of the testing is to work out the details so that the system can ultimately be used to search for contraband attached to the hulls and underwater appendages of ships, according to DHS S&T BIOSwimmer Program Manager David Taylor.
The Battleship TEXAS became the first battleship museum in the U.S. in 1948. It is the last of the battleships in the tradition of the HMS Dreadnought that participated in World Wars I and II.
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