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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-12-18                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Daniel Bumgarner, Carolina Raptor Center, 704/875-66521, ext. 129; dbumgarner@carolinaraptorcenter.org; Gary Peeples, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 828/258-3939, ext. 234; gary_peeples@fws.gov; Jose Viramontes, Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 505/248-6404, jose_viramontes@fws.gov; Tom Harvey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 512/389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Dec. 18, 2009
Two Harris' Hawks Seized in North Carolina Returning Home to Texas
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- A pair of Harris' hawks, unlawfully captured in Texas and brought to North Carolina, are being treated to a plane ride back to their south Texas home today, the culmination of nearly two months of effort that included law enforcement officers, raptor biologists, and Delta Air Lines.
In October, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received a tip about the birds through their Operation Game Thief wildlife crime stoppers program. State game wardens began investigating the case, and by mid-November the tip led U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Special Agents to a North Carolina suspect in possession of the hawks.
The birds, both juveniles, were taken to the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, N.C., for treatment, rehabilitation and evaluation for release. The hawks are in good condition and readily retreat from humans, demonstrating that their ordeal has not habituated them.
Delta Air Lines is providing transportation from Charlotte, N.C., to San Antonio, Texas, for the birds and their caretaker.
"Delta is happy to be able to help return these birds to their homes," said Sinead O'Neal, manager, marketing and product development for Delta Cargo.
Amber Rosintoski, director of bird programming for the raptor center, is accompanying the birds. In San Antonio she will meet staff from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who will escort her to an area near where they were taken from the wild outside of Laredo, Texas. Operation Game Thief Committee Member Gene Walker has offered to allow the release of the hawks on his family ranch in Webb County.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to send these birds back into nature. They deserve to be returned to their natural habitat," said Rosintoski.
Sometimes referred to as the "wolves of the sky," Harris' hawks are one of the few raptors to live in groups. Cooperative hunting allows these raptors to kill larger prey than a lone hawk and they can take down mammals the size of a jackrabbit. Their wingspan is three-and-a-half to four feet and they can weigh as much as four pounds each.
"This type of criminal activity and the abuse of wildlife cannot be tolerated," said James Gale, Resident Agent in Charge for the Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Our special thanks to the dedicated Texas game wardens for their investigative work and to Delta for helping us return these proud raptors to their home."
The investigation into the capture of the hawks will be referred to the U.S. Attorney's office for prosecution. It's alleged that the Harris' hawks were trapped without the required state and federal permits.
"Since its inception in 1981, Operation Game Thief has fielded close to 28,000 phone tips, filed more than 9,000 cases with a 98 percent conviction rate, netted more than $1 million in fines, and paid rewards totaling more than $200,000," said Lt. Eric Howard of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, who coordinates the OGT program. "This case shows how that benefits not only game animals, but also everything from birds of prey to endangered sea turtles."
Operation Game Thief is Texas' wildlife "crime-stoppers" program, operating a 24-hour, toll-free hotline to report crimes, 800-792-GAME. Rewards of up to $1,000 may be paid to callers, who may remain anonymous. Rewards and hotline operations are entirely funded with private donations. For more information, visit http://www.ogttx.com/.
The Carolina Raptor Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to environmental stewardship and the conservation of birds of prey through education, research, and the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors. For more information or to make a donation, visit the center's website at http://www.carolinaraptorcenter.org/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/ and http://www.fws.gov/southeast.
18 de diciembre de 2009
Contacto de medios de comunicación: Eddie McKenna, Departamento de Parques y Vida Silvestre de Texas, (512) 389-8696, eddie.mckenna@tpwd.texas.gov
Dos aguilillas rojinegras confiscadas en North Carolina regresarán a Texas
HUNTERSVILLE, NC -- Un par de aguilillas rojinegras, capturadas ilegalmente en Texas y traídas a North Carolina, hoy se han permitido el lujo de un vuelo por avión a su hogar en el sur de Texas. Eso es la culminación de casi dos meses de trabajo por parte de varios agentes del orden, biólogos especialistas en aves de presa, y la aerolínea Delta.
En octubre, el Departamento de Parques y Vida Silvestre de Texas (TPWD) recibió un aviso sobre las aves a través de su programa para combatir contra la caza furtiva, Operation Game Thief. Los inspectores estatales o game wardens investigaron el caso, y a mediados de noviembre este aviso les ayudó a la Oficina de Agentes Especialistas en el Cumplimiento de la Ley del Departamento de Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre de Estados Unidos (USFWS) en identificar un sospechoso de North Carolina en posesión de las aves.
Las aves, ambos juveniles, se trasladaron al Carolina Raptor Center para recibir su tratamiento médico, rehabilitación y evaluación para ser liberadas. Los halcones están en buena condición y siguen retirándose de los humanos, lo cual demuestra que su terrible experiencia no les ha habituado.
Delta ofrece la transportación de Charlotte, North Carolina a San Antonio, Texas para las aves y su encargada.
"A Delta nos complace en ayudar con el regreso de estas aves a sus hogares," dijo Sinead O'Neal, directora del marketing y desarrollo de productos para Delta Cargo.
Amber Rosintoski, directora de programación ornitológica del centro para aves de presa, les acompaña a las aves. En San Antonio se reunirá con el personal del Departamento de Parques y Vida Silvestre de Texas, quienes le escoltarán a un área cerca de donde las aves fueron raptadas de su hogar natural en los alrededores de Laredo, Texas. Gene Walker, miembro del comité de la Operación Cazador Furtivo, ha ofrecido que los halcones se puedan liberar en el rancho de su familia en el condado de Webb.
"Estoy emocionado con la oportunidad de liberar estas aves. Ellas merecen regresar a su hábitat natural," dijo Rosintoski.
A veces conocidos como los "lobos del cielo," la aguililla rojinegra es una de las pocas aves de presa que vive en grupos. La caza cooperativa permite que estas aves de presa maten a animales más grandes de lo que puede hacer un solo halcón, y pueden atacar a mamíferos del tamaño de una liebre. Tienen una envergadura de tres y media a cuatro pies y pueden pesar hasta cuatro libras cada una.
"Este tipo de actividad criminal y el abuso de animales silvestres no se puede tolerar," dijo James Gale del Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre de Estados Unidos (USFWS), el agente residente encargado de la región suroeste del país. "Deseamos darles gracias a los inspectores de gran dedicación del estado de Texas por su trabajo investigativo y también a Delta por su ayuda en devolver estas gloriosas aves de rapiña a su hogar."
La investigación del rapto de los halcones se mandará a la Oficina del Fiscal Federal (US Attorney's Office) para acusación. Se alega que las aguilillas rojinegras fueran atrapadas sin los requeridos permisos federales y estatales.
"Desde su inicio en 1981, Operación Cazador Furtivo ha recibido casi 28,000 avisos por teléfono, ha procesado más de 9,000 casos con una tasa de condenas de 98 porcentaje, ha producido más de $1,000,000 de multas, y ha pagado recompensas que ascienden a más de $200,000," dijo el teniente Eric Howard de TPWD, quien coordina el programa. "Este caso demuestra cómo el programa beneficia no sólo a los animales de caza, sino también todos los animales, de las aves de presa a las tortugas marinas en peligro de extinción."
Operación Cazador Furtivo es el programa de Texas que combate crímenes contra la vida silvestre. Mantiene un número de teléfono que se puede llamar sin costo las 24 horas para reportar crímenes, 800-792-GAME. Se pueden pagar recompensas hasta $1,000 a personas que llaman, las cuales pueden permanecer anónimas. Las recompensas y la operación de la línea de acceso directo son completamente financiadas por donaciones privadas. Para mayor información visiten a http://www.ogttx.com/.
El Carolina Raptor Center es una organización sin fines lucrativos clasificada como 501(c)(3) dedicada al cuidado del medio ambiente y a la conservación de las aves de presa a través de la educación, la investigación, y la rehabilitación de aves de presa heridas y dejadas huérfanas. Para mayor información o para donar visiten al sitio Web del centro al http://www.carolinaraptor.org/
La misión del Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre de Estados Unidos es trabajar con otros para conservar, proteger, y mejorar los hábitats de los peces, la vida silvestre, y las plantas para el beneficio duradero de la gente estadounidense. Para mayor información sobre su trabajo y su personal, visiten a http://www.fws.gov/, www.fws.gov/southeast o http://www.doi.gov/spanish/fws_spanish.html
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On the Net:
Video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSI3TdrMjAY
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
Dec. 18, 2009
Renovations bring LBJ state park's Sauer-Beckmann Farmstead to life
40th annual Christmas tree lighting festivities this Sunday
STONEWALL, Texas -- In 1869, German immigrants Johann and Christine Sauer settled on a tract of land in Gillespie County, between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, with their four children. The Sauer family, which grew to include 10 children, built a homestead around their working farm. Their homestead originally grew up around log cabins, but as they became more prosperous, the Sauers erected buildings of native limestone.
In 1900, they sold their property to Emil and Emma Beckmann, who improved the property further. By 1915, they had built and moved into a stylish, Victorian frame home. Across the Pedernales River from the farm lived the family of state Rep. Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr. In 1908, it was one of the Sauer children, Augusta Sauer Lindig, who delivered the Johnson's first child, Lyndon, who would one day become president of the United States.
Thanks to a recent $128,000 renovation, visitors to Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site near Stonewall this holiday season can see what the original log cabins, some of which date to 1869, and the 1915 Victorian-style house would have looked like when they were new. Renovations include updates to roofs, porches and a fresh coast of paint. The floors of the Beckmann's Victorian-style house have been refinished, the wood exterior, roof and the porch of the house repaired and painted and the foundation stabilized. Additionally, the work crews painted the home's interior, refurbished the windows, and repaired screen doors and shutters.
As an added bonus this holiday season, the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm displays its holiday cheer with glowing kerosene lanterns, traditional German candlelit Christmas tree and freshly baked German Christmas cookies for visitors. Highlighting the park's holiday season at 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20 is the 40th annual Christmas tree lighting begun by the Johnsons in 1970, complete with carolers, a live nativity and visit by Santa Claus. The lighting will take place on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 6:00 p.m. At 5 p.m. just prior to the lighting, a headstone will be placed on the gravesite of the late Lady Bird.
No matter the time of year, visitors to the living history farm can see park interpreters in period clothing doing the farm chores that the farm family would have done around 1918-feeding, milking, gathering eggs, slopping the hogs, cleaning the house, cooking meals, churning butter, making cheese, scrubbing floors with homemade lye soap and plowing the garden with a team of horses. Tours of the farmstead are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no charge for the tours, but donations are accepted.
LBJ State Park lies directly across the Pedernales River from the LBJ Ranch, operated by the National Park Service. It includes the one-room schoolhouse that a 4-year-old Johnson attended in 1912, a reconstruction of his birthplace, the Johnson family cemetery, where LBJ and Lady Bird are buried and the Johnson Family Home, also known as the Texas White House, part of which is now open to public tours. Tours of the home, which cost $1, take visitors through four rooms. The Texas White House is decorated like it was when the President and Mrs. Johnson lived there, and will remain so through Jan. 5.
The state park's nature trail, historical displays, grounds and day-use picnic areas are open until dark. Park buildings are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. year-round, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. For group tours, call 830/644-2252, Ext. 229, or visit the park's Web site.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lyndon_b_johnson/ 
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
Dec. 18, 2009
Battleship TEXAS updates bring the past alive for visitors
AUSTIN, Texas -- It fought in two world wars, saw action in Europe, Africa and the Pacific, traveled more than more than 728,000 miles, as far north as Iceland and as far south as Chile. It is the second longest-serving battleship ever commissioned by the U.S. Navy, in service from 1914 to 1948. Now, thanks in part to increased funds from the Texas Legislature, the Battleship TEXAS is getting an update that will make its long history more accessible and engaging for visitors.
On its final mission for the U.S. Navy, the TEXAS returned 4,267 U.S. troops from the Pacific theater to San Pedro, California in time for Christmas 1945. After its service in World War II had ended, the ship was presented to its namesake state, commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy and brought to a permanent home at Buffalo Bayou, minutes from downtown Houston and adjacent to the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, on the anniversary of the battle that won Texas' independence in 1836.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department took possession of the ship in 1983. The following year, TPWD began an extensive renovation of the ship.
The latest suite of updates includes a complete redo of all the ship's interpretive, wayfinding and safety signs-55 new interpretive labels located at significant points throughout the ship, about 14 larger interpretive exhibit panels in the port and starboard aircastles, orientation and welcome signs, assorted safety signs, new directional signs (maps) and a new interpretive brochure.
"If people arrive at a state park, whether it's a natural area or a historic site, and they're totally on their own, with no written or visual aids and no staff to explain things, they're going to miss a huge part of the experience," said Phil Hewitt, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department State Parks Division interpretation and exhibits director.
"Turn that around, and invest in people and resources to tell the story, and you have an exponential increase in visitors 'getting it,'" Hewitt said. "Interpretation makes the crucial difference for people to understand what's special about a park, to learn about natural and cultural resources, and to just have a lot more fun while they're there."
The new interpretation will explore the battleship's place in America's history-spanning the period from America's emergence as a nascent world power to the end of the Second World War. One new sign about the ship's Main Battery notes that when TEXAS was commissioned in 1914, the warship was the most powerful weapon afloat. TEXAS, one of only eight remaining battleships in the world, is a national historic landmark.
More information about the Battleship TEXAS, including a video about the ship and its history, can be found on the TPWD Web site. PHOTOS and GRAPHICS for news media use, including several of the new interpretive signs and panels, are available as high resolution .jpg files in the News Images area of the site.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/videos/state_park/gulf_coast/battleship_texas.phtml
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/?g=ie_battleship_texas
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/?g=battleship_texas
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[ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Dan Bennett, Dan.bennett@tpwd.texas.gov, (903) 561-2161 ]
Dec. 18, 2009
Texas Parks and Wildlife Launches Big Blue Catfish Study
ATHENS, Texas -- At a time when many anglers have put away their fishing gear in favor of picking up a .30-06 and heading to the deer lease, a few avid anglers know the cold weather can provide a great opportunity to catch big blue catfish. Although it is not entirely necessary to endure 31-degree temperatures in order to catch big blue catfish, it may help. Those were the conditions when Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries staff arrived at Richland-Chambers Reservoir in mid-December as part of a special study on the fish.
The trip was the first of a series of winter-time research trips to help biologists better understand what it takes to produce big blue catfish at Richland-Chambers and two other Texas reservoirs. The research is designed to evaluate an experimental 30- to 45-inch slot length regulation geared towards enhancing the trophy catfish potential of Lakes Waco, Lewisville, and Richland-Chambers.
The regulation went into effect in September 2009 for the three lakes and allows anglers a total daily bag of 25 fish per day. Harvested fish may be any size below 30 inches, but only one fish over 45 inches is allowed as part of the daily bag.
The research is being directed by fisheries biologist John Tibbs of TPWD's Inland Fisheries office in Waco and is being conducted by staff from fisheries offices in Tyler, Fort Worth, and Waco.
During the study period, biologists are conducting simulated angler jugline sets to evaluate catch rates and size distributions of blue catfish. Length, weight and growth data are being collected from the fish to determine just how long it takes blue catfish to grow to 30 inches and beyond in these reservoirs. Preliminary results indicate that it may take 10 years or more for a blue catfish to reach 30 inches.
Muscle tissue samples are being collected from fish below 30 inches in length, those 30-45 inches in length and over 45 inches in length to evaluate the potential for bioaccumulation of toxicants as the fish age.
Angler support for the regulation is also being evaluated as part of the study. Angler interest in fishing for large blue catfish has increased in recent years, and TPWD hopes to increase the opportunities anglers have to catch a trophy. The three reservoirs were selected for the experimental regulation due to their ability to support a large population of blue catfish and the fact they have all produced fish in excess of 45 inches.
Research will be ongoing through 2016, and results will be used to evaluate whether the regulation is achieving the goal of increasing the number of large blue catfish in the reservoirs. If the lakes begin to produce larger fish, variations of the special regulation may be considered for other Texas reservoirs.
Juglines may be constructed and fished differently by each angler, although most utilize a surface float with a vertical line attached to a small weight on the bottom. Up to five hooks are spaced out evenly at various depths along the line and commonly baited with cut shad or sunfish. Floats are often designed to move or "flag" to alert the angler from a distance when a fish is hooked. Jugline floats are required to be white and must also have a valid (dated) gear tag while being fished in Texas. Consult the Outdoor Annual or the TPWD web site for specific regulations regarding juglines before fishing.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/annual/
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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]
Dec. 18, 2009
Officials Investigating Waterfowl Die-off in Panhandle
DALHART, Texas -- State and federal officials are investigating the deaths of about 2,000 geese and ducks discovered this week near Dalhart in the northwest Texas Panhandle. Preliminary results of lab evaluations indicate naturally-occurring avian cholera is a factor.
Avian cholera poses no threat to human health and while the die-off could affect local waterfowl populations, wildlife officials say isolated events like this are not uncommon for the area.
On Tuesday, Dec. 14, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists and game wardens observed about 1,000 dead geese on Lake Rita Blanca, a 500-acre impoundment on the outskirts of Dalhart. An additional 1,000 dead geese and ducks were found on a nearby wetland.
TPWD officials suspect the die-off event likely began during the first week of December when temperatures in the area dropped to near zero for lows and stayed near or below freezing during the day for about a week. Flocks of about 30,000 geese were on Lake Rita Blanca when temperatures plummeted, causing the lakes to freeze up.
Biologists theorize the near zero temperatures triggered stress in the geese, which often gives rise to disease outbreaks. In this case, preliminarily signs suggest avian cholera as a likely bacterial agent involved.
Fifteen specimens of waterfowl collected from the site by TPWD were shipped to the U.S. Geological Service's National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI, for clinical evaluation to determine the cause of death. USGS Wildlife Disease Specialist Dr. LeAnn White advised TPWD that a preliminary examination of the specimens were suggestive of a cholera outbreak, but cultures of the causal agent will not be ready for several more days. A formal report will be sent to TPWD at that time.
According to the Wildlife Disease Action Plan established to handle such problems and coordinated between TPWD, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Wildlife Services, once a disease outbreak has been documented proper precautions are taken to protect wildlife and human health. Precautions should be taken when handling dead birds, such as wearing protective gloves.
Avian cholera is highly contagious among most birds and can spread rapidly. Prompt action is often needed to prevent and minimize the spread of the disease. In addition to monitoring the situation, during severe outbreaks dead and sick birds may be picked up and incinerated to slow the spread of diseases.
While most birds can become infected with avian cholera, the species most commonly affected are ducks and geese, coots, gulls, and crows. Avian cholera does not pose a threat to human health, according to the USGS Wildlife Health Center, but common sense precautions should be used when handling wild fowl.
Geese can carry the organism without active disease symptoms showing until severe stress gets involved, triggering active symptoms.
The bacteria can be transmitted by bird-to-bird contact, contact with secretions or feces of infected birds, or ingestion of food or water containing the bacteria. Aerosol transmission may also occur. The bacteria may survive up to 4 months in soil and water.
Death may be so rapid that birds literally fall out of the sky or die while eating with no previous signs of disease. Sick birds appear lethargic, and when captured may die within minutes. Other signs include convulsions; swimming in circles; throwing the head back between the wings; erratic flight, such as flying upside down or trying to land a foot or more above the water.
The Texas Panhandle has long been known for small and occasionally large disease outbreaks of avian cholera in waterfowl when severe cold begins to stress the birds. TPWD waterfowl biologist Bill Johnson said he has seen these problems on an annual basis when the right conditions come into play, "but we are fortunate that severe cold usually does not last too long and the problems are usually relatively small."
"Temperatures in the area have been moderating for the past week and the frozen lakes are rapidly thawing. There does not seem to be new birds being added to the die-off," said Johnson. "Signs indicate the event is about to run its course, but we will continue to monitor the situation, especially if severe cold returns to the area."
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