Managing for Monarchs

January 22nd, 2018
Monarchs at their overwintering site in Mexico.

Monarchs at their overwintering site in Mexico.

This is Passport to Texas

Monarch butterflies, which are beautiful, are declining. Yet, they’re not especially good pollinators, or a significant food source for other critters. So, is being pretty reason enough to save them?

I think it’s important not to deemphasize how important this is. If you’re ever out on a Texas river in the fall, and you have hundreds or thousands of monarchs coming through – that’s a fabulous natural phenomenon.

You make a good point Ben Hutchins. Ben is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s invertebrate biologist. He says the insects have a practical value in Mexico where they overwinter.

Overwintering monarchs are a really important source of economic income as tourists come from around the world to see them.

Conserving monarchs also benefits other Texas species.

Monarch conservation, benefits a whole suite of other species. So, for example, if you’re managing a landscape to benefit monarchs, you’re also going to be benefitting many other pollinators. They also benefit a host of larger species. For example, if you’re managing habitat – keeping it open as a prairie or savannah – that’s going to be benefitting upland bird species like quail; so there’s really an economic incentive of for being conscious of monarchs when we’re managing landscapes.

Who knew, right? Tomorrow: a citizen science project to help monarchs.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV – The Shrimping Life

January 19th, 2018
The shrimping life.

The shrimping life.

This is Passport to Texas

When it comes to seafood, shrimp is king. And the Stringo Family—from Port O’Connor—are king-makers, having shrimped Texas Bays for decades.

I was born here. That’s all I’ve ever done—you know. Matagorda Bay, mainly.

That’s Anthony Stringo. He and his 75 year old father, Jesse, appear next week on a segment of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Anthony says his dad’s been shrimping the bays most of his life.

Fifty years I’d say. Yeah. Probably one of the oldest left out here. There might be one or two more his age left.

Texas Parks and WildlifeFisheries Biologist, Mark Fisher, also on the show, says shrimping’s changed since the Stringo family started working the bays.

Shrimping in the nineteen fifties was a very good decade. A price of shrimp was very high, fuel, fuel was cheap, labor was abundant; there was almost no government regulation back then. If you could work hard and handle it, it was all for the taking.

Anthony says shrimping’s not as freewheeling or as lucrative today.

These are the big shrimp, we ought to be getting four dollars a pound for them shrimp right there. But the markets not there because [consumers] get so much from overseas, [including] the farm raised shrimp.

Last of the Stringos airs on next week’s Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS. Check your local listings.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Reel in a Rainbow Before They’re Gone

January 18th, 2018
Take the kids fishing.

Take the kids fishing.

This is Passport to Texas

If you’re an angler who likes to eat what you catch, then now’s the time to reel in a rainbow trout.

We stock them at a catchable and eatable size. They are good fighting fish; they’re relatively easy to catch. We usually stock them in smaller bodies of water, so they’re a good fishing, catching opportunity and good eating opportunity as well.

Carl Kittel is a program director for Inland Fisheries, and oversees winter trout stocking in Texas, which began this month.

We’ve been stocking [rainbow] trout around Texas for almost 40 years. One interesting note about trout is that we often say there are no established populations of trout in Texas, but actually, way out west in the Davis Mountains there’s a small, tiny stream at high enough elevation that there is a reproducing population of rainbow trout.

That’s why we stock them in winter; most of Texas is too hot for the fish to survive. Inland fisheries will distribute more than 310-thousand rainbows in 160 locations.

And we have a special program; we actually stock somewhat larger trout in urban areas in our Neighborhood Fishin’ Program. And that’s something that you can specifically look for on our web page.

With the New Year here, it’s is a great time add fishing to your to-do list this year. Find the stocking schedule on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport fish restoration program supports our series and funds rainbow trout stocking in Texas…

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Chasing Rainbows in Texas

January 17th, 2018
Stocking Rainbow trout. Photo by Larry Hodge.

Stocking Rainbow trout. Photo by Larry Hodge.

This is Passport to Texas

It’s the New year; what better way to celebrate than with rainbows – rainbow trout, that is.

We do winter stockings when the water temperatures permit it, to provide an opportunity for anglers to catch trout in Texas. It’s a species of fish that anglers wouldn’t catch otherwise, so we stock them, and we intend them all to be caught out during the season.

Carl Kittel is a program director for Inland Fisheries. Thanks to good rainfall throughout most of the state, we have fishing access to almost all waterbodies.

This year, things are pretty well back to normal. Looks like our normal level of stocking will happen.

Kittel says the agency will stock about 160 sites around the state, distributing more than 310-thousand rainbow trout. The fish will be divided among the various locations, including urban neighborhood fishin’ holes.

We publish a schedule on the Texas parks and Wildlife Department webpage. Look for the winter trout stocking link.

Carl Kittel says we stock rainbows in winter because these fish cannot survive our hot summers. So, when you reel one in this winter, take it home and eat it.

The Sport fish restoration program supports our series and helps to fund rainbow trout stocking in Texas

We record our series at The Block House in Austin, Texas and Joel Block engineers our program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

After the Shot: From Field to Kitchen

January 16th, 2018
Whitetail in a clearing.

Whitetail in a clearing.

This is Passport to Texas

Handled correctly from field to kitchen, venison can be tastier than store bought meat. Keep it cool and dry immediately after harvest.

15—And then, the real poetry begins in the aging of that meat. If you can hang that meat for three to six days, some of the enzymes in the meat start to break it down, and you really get that tender, good tasting, concentrated flavor.

Austin resident, Lee Smith, is a hunter and home cook. He recommends vacuum sealing the meat to keep it usable for up to a year in the freezer. While you may wish to elevate a venison dish, Smith says, simple has its merits.

23—You’re legally – depending upon what county you’re hunting in – able to take five deer in Texas. And that can be a lot of meat. So, I can understand after a while, how you might want to change it up and have a little horseradish sauce, or some kind of port reduction with some mushrooms. But, I want to taste the meat; I don’t want to throw a heavy sauce on it. In fact, tonight, we’re having venison fajitas.

Lee Smith says he usually marinates venison back strap briefly in olive oil and soy sauce, grills it, and ends up with something the whole family enjoys.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.