Wildlife Friendly Water Troughs

With temperatures heating up wildlife friendly water troughs are more important in Texas than ever. Hot, dry weather means wildlife will be in search of water, but is your water trough wildlife friendly?

Not all water sources are created equally. Some watering facilities may limit wildlife access based on their design. During periods of low rainfall, when many ponds and creeks dry up, surface water is limited. Many wildlife species of drown in troughs trying to reach water because they got in and then were unable to escape.

Water Troughs for Wildlfie

Troughs for Wildlife Need Escape Ladders

Escape ladders are an important part of a wildlife friendly water trough. These ladders can be installed in troughs to give animals a way out if they do fall in. These ladders can be made of many materials and may even include a series of rocks that act as stepping stones, but the material used for an escape ladder must be durable.

Wildlife ladders in troughs allow animals access the water, but more importantly, exit the trough. Instructions for building escape ladders are provided online by the Natural Resource Conservation Service in the following publications:

Evaluating Wildlife Friendly Watering Sites

Many troughs exist for watering livestock. In most cases, modifications to “working” troughs will have to be reinforced to a greater extent than a trough that is install strictly for wildlife use. Troughs that serve both livestock and wildlife are feasible, but planning is necessary to ensure you are meeting the needs of all of your constituents.

Check out the slideshow below for some great information on creating and restoring safe and accessible water sources for livestock, bats and other wildlife.

Water for Wildlife Slideshow

Rainwater Collection for Wildlife Water

An alternative source of water may be installing a wildlife water guzzler that captures and uses rainwater. These are great options for fields that were once cultivated or smaller properties that may not have a source of water but are providing supplemental water as a qualifying practice for a wildlife tax valuation. Wildlife including deer, turkeys, small mammals and birds will visit these wildlife friendly water troughs regularly for hydration.

A collection system can be as expensive or economical as you wish, but keep in mind that longevity of the system as well as maintenance can be addressed through the initial materials that are used. The purpose of a guzzler is to provide water for wildlife and they won’t care if you spend $10 or $10,000.

When a rainwater collection system for wildlife (guzzler) is installed, it’s a good idea to initially fill it with water, then in most years there should be enough annual precipitation to maintain water in them for the critters on your land. A roof funnels water into the holding tank and also slows evaporation. If you have livestock on your property, then it’s recommended you fence the guzzler to keep livestock out.

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Golfer Nails Duck While Driving Golf Ball

Flying Duck Hit by Golf Ball

Want to see a flying duck get drilled by a golf ball right off the tee? Not something that anyone would request — but a golfer did unintentionally connect with a duck flying across the fairway recently, and the freakish ash was captured on camera.

In life, and death, it seams, everything is about timing. The golfer was setting up for a great swing and a duck was simply looking for “greener grass,” so to speak. As it turns out, both were surprised.

The guy hit the ball, the ball hit the duck (both in mid-flight) and the duck hit the water.

With @theplayerschamp this week just reminding all of what can happen Sunday to the leaders on 18… #duckhunt 🎯🦆😵@meanmr.mustard_ @rgraypga #tpcsawgrass #foisgras anyone?

A post shared by Todd Shannon (@todd_shannon) on

Company Pulls Fatal Feral Hog Bait

Kaput Feral Hog Bait has pulled from Texas before even a single pig (or anything else) was harmed. Scimetrics Ltd. Corporation (SLC) announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its registration of Kaput Feral Hog Bait in the state of Texas.

SLC announced, “We have received tremendous support from farmers and ranchers in the State of Texas, and have empathy for the environmental devastation, endangered species predation, and crop damage being inflicted there by a non-native animal. However, under the threat of many lawsuits, our family owned company cannot at this time risk the disruption of our business and continue to compete with special interests in Texas that have larger resources to sustain a lengthy legal battle.”

Kaput Hog Bait Pulled from Texas

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller was dismayed over the decision by the maker of Kaput Feral Hog Bait to remove the product from use in the state.

“As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I am disappointed that landowners, farmers and ranchers will lose this tool to fight back against the growing economic threat of feral hogs. Unfortunately, it seems that once again the hard working folks who turn the dirt and work from sunup to sundown have fallen victim to lawyers, environmental radicals and the misinformed. Once again, politically correct urban media hacks and naysayers win out against the rural folks who produce the food and fiber everyone needs.”

The Kaput Feral Hog Bait label included warfarin and had been approved by the U.S. EPA, which requires meeting stringent testing and documentation requirements. To meet these high standards, many years of work have gone into developing and proving the safety and effectiveness of Kaput Feral Hog Bait.

SLC had hoped to provide this valuable new resource to the farmers of Texas, whose crops and land have been devastated by the estimated 2.5 million feral hogs in the state. The company also hoped to alleviate the risk posed by the many diseases these hogs carry being transmitted to both the livestock and the food supply of Texas, by offering an alternative solution to current programs that cannot keep up with the quickly growing feral hog population.

It appears feral hogs in Texas are no longer on notice. SLC ended its announcement to pull Kaput from Texas with, “Unfortunately, we have discontinued our attempts to provide this resource in Texas at this time. We are grateful for the support we have received from the agricultural community of Texas.”

Pronghorn Population in Texas on Rise

The pronghorn population in Texas in on the rise according to officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project progressed with another successful relocation recently of 109 pronghorn, helping to boost once-declining numbers in that area.

This marks the fifth year that pronghorn have been transplanted from healthy populations around Pampa in the Texas Panhandle to an area northeast of Marfa to supplement severely depleted pronghorn populations in the Trans Pecos region.

The relocation process was coordinated among the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University (BRI), Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) and USDA-Wildlife Services. Quicksilver Air, Inc. conducted the capture.

Pronghorn Populations Increase in Texas

Texas’ Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Population

The Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project is a five-year, $1.4 million public-private partnership with the TPWF. To date, more than $900,000 has been secured. The objective of the Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Project is to bolster declining pronghorn populations through wildlife management practices, including: translocations, habitat improvements, and predator management.

At least 17,000 pronghorn historically roamed the West Texas region, but by 2012 there were estimated to be less than 3,000. As of last summer, pronghorn numbers had doubled, based on a TPWD aerial census survey.

Pronghorn on Rise, With Help

“With the help of Mother Nature, translocations, and other management actions populations are bouncing back in this region of Texas,” said Shawn Gray, TPWD Pronghorn Program Leader. “We hope populations in our restoration areas will continue to grow and become another source for pronghorn in the next few years to help supplement other herds in the Trans-Pecos.”

Gray noted that survival and production rates among transplanted pronghorn have been encouraging over the last few years, thanks to improved range conditions and intensive management activities.

“Historic drought severely impacted survival in 2011 at just 20 percent, while good range conditions and more intensive management actions have led to much higher survival rates of between 70-85 percent during the other translocations,” he noted. “Over the last four years, herds that received transplanted pronghorn have done well and have had above average fawn production.”

The relocation process is not your ordinary roundup.

Moving Pronghorn Between Populations

At the capture site, workers take each animal’s temperature to monitor stress, along with blood and fecal samples for disease surveillance. The pronghorn also receive a mild sedative to minimize stress during capture and transport. Ear tags are attached for identification. Forty of the latest group of captured pronghorn were fitted with satellite radio collars, programmed to collect GPS locations every 15 minutes. At about 1 ½ years post-release, the satellite collars will automatically drop from the animals and be retrieved by researchers to refurbish and redeploy in future translocations. After processing, the pronghorn were transported by trailer to the release site northeast of Marfa.

“The capture could not have gone any smoother,” said Dr. Bob Dittmar, Wildlife Veterinarian for TPWD. “The pronghorn were in excellent shape and traveled really well.“

Population Monitoring

During the next year, the BRI and TPWD will closely monitor the translocated pronghorn to determine survival, reproductive productivity, fawn survival, habitat utilization, and movements. This research has and will continue to define the best management practices essential in growing Texas pronghorn populations in the Trans-Pecos region.

“We sincerely appreciate all the cooperation and support from our partners and the Pampa and Trans-Pecos communities,” stated Gray. “Their continued support will ensure pronghorn herds in the Trans-Pecos will prosper in our desert grasslands.” It will take continued effort in the forms of herd and harvest management to ensure pronghorn hunting into the future.

War on Warfarin, Hogs to Take Place in Court

Before the war on Texas’ ever-growing feral hog population rages on the battle will be fought by fought in a court. A Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) rule change that would have permitted the use of a warfarin-containing bait to poison feral hogs is now delayed after a state district judge in Austin issued a temporary restraining order last week.

A commercial hog processing business, Wild Boar Meats, requested that District Judge Jan Soifer to suspend the emergency rules that would allow Kaput Feral Hog Bait to be sold to and used by licensed pesticide applicators. This effectively puts the breaks on the toxic bait until the guys in suits sort it out.

Feral Hog Control in Texas

Feral Hogs in Texas

Feral hogs, which number in the millions across Texas, costs rural and suburban residents millions of dollars annually. The consumption or destruction of agricultural products, turfgrass and the like take a toll on landowners in terms of both time and money. State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller had said the poison would expand the ways available to kill the animals.

Warfarin is currently used as a blood thinner in humans, but it’s also found in rat poison. Swine are very sensitive to the compound, but they are not the only wildlife species that may be impacted once warfarin-carrying hogs, whether dead or alive, are on the landscape.

Wild Boar Meats buys live and dead hogs and processes them for sale to the pet food industry. Owner Will Herring said the year-old company processed as many as 5,000 hogs in February alone. “The problem is we haven’t discovered any way through freezing or heating to kill the warfarin in the meat of the animal,” he said. “This could potentially kill the industry. My customers want to make sure there’s no rat poison in the meat that we’re turning into pet food.”

Kaput - A Warfarin Based Hog Poison

A War on Warfarin?

A representative with Colorado-based Genesis Laboratories, which developed Kaput, told the American-Statesman that the hog bait contains only one-fifth of the concentration of warfarin found in conventional rodenticides.

TDA spokesman Mark Loeffler said the emergency rules were meant as a regulatory safeguard on the product, which already has federal approval, as it hits the Texas market. Legal briefs supporting Wild Boar Meats were filed by the Texas Hog Hunters Association and the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Spreading rat poison across Texas lands would hurt Texas hunters, Texas hunting-supply businesses, Texas feral hog meat processing businesses, Texas ranchers and the Texas environment,” said Eydin Hansen, vice president of the hog hunters association.

Warfarin Approved for Hog Control in Texas

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller will be announcing approval of a major new weapon in the ongoing war against feral hogs in Texas. Commissioner Miller has approved a rule change in the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) that classifies a new warfarin-based product as a state-limited-use pesticide for control of feral hogs.

State-limited-use pesticides may only be bought and used by a licensed applicator or someone under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator. The pesticide, “Kaput Feral Hog Lure,” is the first toxicant to be listed specifically for use in controlling the feral hog population.

Kaput Hog Bait Texas

“Wild hogs have caused extensive damage to Texas lands and loss of income for many, many years,” Commissioner Miller said. “I am pleased to announce that the ‘feral hog apocalypse’ may be within Texans’ reach with the introduction of Kaput’s hog lure.”

Introducing warfarin as the first pesticide available to control the feral hog population is significant because it gives agriculture producers and landowners in Texas a new weapon in the fight against feral hogs with minimal risk to other animals.

Using Warfarin for Feral Hogs

The bait would be limited to private use, and according to the Texas Department of Agriculture department the pesticide, which was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in January, would be classified as “State Limited Use.” This classification would require distributors to hold a pesticide dealer’s license, according to the agriculture department. Buying it would also require a person to be licensed as a pesticide applicator “or under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator.”

According to the release, the TDA chose to regulate the pesticide in this way to “address the risk of inadvertent human consumption of warfarin-exposed hogs and the risk of potential secondary exposure of non-target animals.”

The risks have drawn concerns from hunters and natural resource professionals. Concern for the ecosystem also prompted the Texas Hog Hunters Association to create a petition against the use of the pesticide. Eydin Hansen, the vice president of the association, said, “If a hog dies, what eats it? Coyotes, buzzards … we’re going to affect possibly the whole ecosystem.”

Controlling Feral Hogs

There is no doubt feral hogs are a real problem in Texas. Hogs numbers have continued to increase in the face of year-round hunting, relentless trapping, and aerial-helicopter hunting. “They’re so prolific, you can’t hardly keep them in check,” says Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. “This is going to be the hog apocalypse, if you like: If you want them gone, this will get them gone.”

Warfarin Bait Turns Hog Fat Blue

He also says that “Kaput Feral Hog Lure,” does not pose much danger to other animals because hogs are especially vulnerable to warfarin, and it would take higher doses than the bait contains to harm most other creatures. A Texas Hog Hunters Association spokesman, however, says they oppose the move and would rather stick to hunting and trapping. He’s stated that he’s worried about the risk of feeding poisoned pork to his family, though Miller says that in a “dead giveaway,” the poison will turn hog fat bright blue.

Why can’t we just feed those hungry hogs bacon? It turns out a popular meat preservative works quite well at killing hogs, too.

Powderhorn WMA Offers Unique Hunting, Habitat

Powderhorn Ranch is a soon-to-be wildlife management area (WMA) and state park administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), but the hunting has already begun. A group of 14 lucky youth hunters had the opportunity to take part in the first-ever public hunting opportunity at Powderhorn Ranch, which is located just north of the Port O’Connor City Limits.

The youth group got to experience remote deer hunting and the ups and downs that go with it, as well as learn more about the wildlife that call the Texas coast home.

Hunting Powderhorn Ranch

The hunt was a result of a partnership with the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The TYHP strives to get kids outdoors so that they can experience what hunting is all about, such as being safe, ethical and making sound use of our natural resources. Many parents and their kids are interested in hunting, but having a place to go ends up being the limiting factor.

Powderhorn WMA Park Hunting

The TYHP tries to fill the gap by combining outdoor teaching and experience with interested youth hunters and their mentors on properties where hunting is beneficial to the resource. The newly-acquired property fit the bill, since not completely staffed and ready for TPWD’s drawn hunt system.

The opportunity not only presented a learning experience for young hunters also was the public’s first introduction to Powderhorn Ranch.

Powderhorn WMA

The Powderhorn is as cool as its name, sprawling an incredible 17,351 acres. The Powderhorn is located along the coastal prairies of Texas, comprised of woodlands, grasslands and, of course, wetlands. A variety of native wildlife species call this property home.

The Powderhorn Ranch is to serve both as a state-managed WMA and Texas state park. This means the Powderhorn Ranch WMA should offer hunting opportunities for deer, doves, ducks, geese and non-native feral hogs, too. The park will provide day-use and overnight facilities for families interesting in exploring Texas’ coastal plains.

Powderhorn Patchwork

Source: “Everything has purpose and value, but it also has timing and balance,” said Gene McCarty, the property’s caretaker and retired deputy executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “I like to call it a mosaic. It’s a patchwork of habitats that all work together.”

Powderhorn Ranch was acquired in 2014 and with the infrastructure and environmental renovation, the property is being opened to the public in a limited fashion. The plan is to open as a state park sometime after it changes into the care of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2018.

McCarty scanned the golden grasslands boarded by the Powderhorn lake and live oak mots.

“If they only know this world from looking at their iPhones, all this is in jeopardy,” McCarty said as he shook his head side to side. “These places are so beautiful, so unique, so important to the bigger picture. It’s important we do what we can to protect the pieces that are left and to be able to use those pieces for the education and enjoyment of its citizens.”

Colorado Bend State Park Hunting

Colorado Bend State Park (SP) offers hunting for a variety of game species, but white-tailed deer hunting is the most popular. All hunts are by special permit only, which means hunters must apply and be selected to hunt at Colorado Bend SP. The park offers archery deer hunts, gun hunts for antlerless and spike deer, either sex gun hunts for bucks and does, and either sex gun hunts for youth hunters.

During these deer hunts, selected hunters at Colorado Bend can shoot an feral hogs, aoudad and other exotic deer in unlimited numbers. The park does not have high numbers of exotic deer, although hog populations are strong and aoudad numbers are likely increasing. On gun hunts, the success rate (harvest of at least a single animal) runs about 30-40 percent.

Hunting at Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend Hunting Information

Colorado Bend SP consists of 5,328 acres of cedar-dominated, rough terrain and is located about 4 miles south of the community of Bend in San Saba County. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is managing the property for public use and native habitat and wildlife.

Objectives to restore and maintain healthy populations of native fauna and flora in their natural habitats and to provide for compatible public use. Where game populations exceed the carrying capacity of the habitat, the preferred method of reduction is public hunting. Hunters are the only way TPWD manages deer in the park and hunting helps to control feral hogs and exotic ungulates.

Selected, permitted hunters should report to the hunter check station by 10:30 a.m. on the first day of their assigned hunt period. The hunter check station is located at the Colorado Bend SP park maintenance area.

Hunting at Colorado Bend

Persons interested in deer hunting at Colorado Bend SP and most other public hunting lands in Texas must apply through TPWD’s online drawing system. Selected hunters will get an email notifying them of their selection and that they must pay the required fee by specified deadline.

Drawn hunters must contact the area staff as soon as possible if they are unable to attend their accepted hunt or not able to arrive on the first day for orientation. Colorado Bend SP does offer opportunities for standby hunter positions. Standby hunters should report to the check station by 10:30 a.m. on the first day of the desired hunt period to complete the application process. Standby hunters will be drawn at 11:00 a.m., as vacancies permit.

Colorado Bend State Park Hunting Map

Following an orientation, TPWD personnel will guide hunters to their hunt compartment. Hunting will end at 11:00 a.m. on the final day of the assigned hunt.

Colorado Bend Hunt Rules

Hunters are reminded that they must have a Special Permit, valid Texas Hunting License, and any stamp as required by statute. Hunters 17 years of age and older must have in their possession a valid I.D. Hunter Safety Education is required of Texas hunters born on or after September 2, 1971.

Hunters must wear a minimum of 400 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material, with at least 144 square inches appearing on both chest and back and orange headwear.

During deer hunts, only one legally permissible weapon per hunter will be allowed into the hunt area.

Non-permitted visitors and family members will not be allowed in the hunt area during hunts except that a non-hunting person directly assisting a permitted handicapped individual will be allowed.

Hunters will be responsible for the reasonable care of their game after harvest. No facilities for deer storage are available on the park, but commercial facilities are available in the towns of Cherokee, Lampasas, Llano, Lometa and San Saba.

Hunters do not use tags off of their hunting license. Hunters that harvest a deer will be given a TPWD Legal Deer Tag, issued at the area, that must be attached to a harvested deer prior to leaving the hunt area.

Disturbance or removal of plants, rocks, artifacts, or other objects is prohibited. The possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
Hunters’ vehicles will be allowed into the hunt area only on designated roads and disabled individuals may hunt from a stationary motor vehicle. Operation of an off-road vehicle(ORV) or all terrain vehicle (ATV) is prohibited, except by disabled persons or an adult directly assisting a disabled person.

For more information on Colorado Bend State Park hunting, give them a call at 325-628-3240.

Recommendations for Hunting Colorado Bend SP

Camping is available at Colorado Bend SP for permitted deer hunters. However, there are no hookups for electricity or water at the camping area, nor is there a trailer dump station available on the park. Chemical toilets and drinking water are provided in the camping area.

Campfires are allowed on the Park in designated fire rings. The normal overnight camping fee will be charged to those hunters utilizing the park’s facilities. In addition, commercial motels and campgrounds are available in the surrounding towns of Lampasas, Llano, and San Saba.

It is recommended that each public hunter bring a flashlight, food, drinking water, and foul weather gear. A good pair of boots is a must since public hunters will often encounter some rugged, rocky terrain.