Is White-nose Syndrome in Texas?



The disease known as White-nose syndrome (WNS) may soon plague bats in Texas, according to the latest research. The fungus that causes deadly white-nose syndrome in hibernating bats has been detected in Texas for the first time. The syndrome has killed millions of bats in the eastern parts of North America, raising national concern.

A coalition of groups in Texas is continuing work to monitor the spread of the problem and is seeking willing landowners who could help scientists locate and access bat caves.

White-nose Syndrome in Texas

The fungus was detected on species of hibernating bats in 6 North Texas Counties: Childress, Collingsworth, Cottle, Hardeman, King, and Scurry. The three species are tri-colored bat, cave myotis, and Townsend’s big-eared bat. This is the first detection of the fungus on both cave myotis and Townsend’s big-eared bats. The Townsend’s big-eared bat has an isolated subspecies in the East, the Virginia Big Eared Bat that has already tested positive for the fungus.

Sampling for WNS in Bats

Samples were collected between Jan. 11 and Feb. 22 by biologists from Bat Conservation International (BCI) and Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, and analyzed as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project led by University of California at Santa Cruz. Surveys of sites in seven other counties in 2017 did not detect the fungus — those counties are Coryell, Freestone, Leon, Panola, San Saba, Shelby, and Wheeler.

White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) and is responsible for the deaths of millions bats in the United States and Canada. It has been expanding in all directions since its discovery in New York in 2007. In some states, there have been declines in winter bat numbers of greater than 90 percent.

“There is still hope for bats in Texas,” said Jonah Evans, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state mammologist. “The fungus thrives in colder climates and it remains to be seen if WNS will have the same serious impacts in Texas as it has in northern states. Additionally, 20 of the 32 species of bats in Texas do not regularly hibernate and we are hopeful they will not suffer significant population declines. We will continue working with cooperating landowners and researchers to implement the best management tools available to conserve these species.”

Bats play an important role in the ecosystem by consuming large numbers of insects. Recent studies have shown that the agricultural value of insect control by bats is $1.4 billion annually in Texas alone. This value includes reduced crop loss to insect pests, reduced spread of crop diseases, and reduced need for pesticide application.

White-nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome does not infect humans and is only known to affect hibernating bats. The fungus thrives in cold, humid environments and invades the skin of bats, disrupting their hibernation and depleting their fat stores. Migratory Mexican free-tailed bats, which roost in the millions at popular sites such as Bracken Bat Cave, the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, and Old Tunnel State Park, do not hibernate for long periods during the winter, and are not expected to be at high risk for the disease. Although there is no known cure for white-nose syndrome, wildlife disease experts are actively working on several treatments to help improve survival.

Today’s announcement of Pd in Texas brings the total number of states with the fungus to 33. Of those states, 30 have been confirmed with white-nose syndrome.

“This discovery is significant because it occurs where the ranges of eastern, southern, and western bat species intersect, and two of these bats have extensive distributions in Central America and the West – beyond the current range of the disease,” said Jeremy Coleman, national white-nose syndrome coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who leads a coalition of more than 100 state, federal, and international governments agencies, academics, and non-governmental organization working to defeat white-nose syndrome. “While we don’t know how new species of western hibernating bats will respond to the fungus, we are concerned about this move into the West.”

WNS in Texas Bats

While scientists are disappointed by the detection of Pd in Texas, its arrival is not unexpected. The fungus was detected in Oklahoma in 2015 and Arkansas in 2014. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has closely coordinated with state and federal agencies as the fungus has spread toward the state. TPWD has worked with BCI to monitor Panhandle caves for the disease since 2011 and in 2015 TPWD funded a statewide project through TAMU aimed at early detection of the disease and describing bat populations before white-nose syndrome arrives.


Nationally, Coleman said the partners in the international response are working to develop tools to manage WNS and improve bat survival. Management solutions are in development to slow the spread of Pd to unaffected areas, improve the survival of bats in newly affected areas, and promote recovery of populations decimated by WNS. Treatment options that could be deployed in some affected areas in the future are also a research focus of the international response team.

TPWD is working with researchers at TAMU to survey caves with hibernating bats. They are asking for willing landowners for help locating and accessing bat winter roosts and caves for tracking the spread of the fungus. Those with knowledge of such sites are asked to contact TPWD at 512-389-4505.

Wildlife experts say cavers and landowners with caves can help prevent human assisted spread of the fungus by requiring cave visitors to abide by the decontamination protocols described here. More information concerning white-nose syndrome can be found online.



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Wildlife Management Workshop for Deer, Hogs & CWD

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has announced that it will offer a Wildlife Management Workshop on September 24th, 2016, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for Central Texas property owners. The even will take place at the Bass Conference Center located at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, about 30 minutes west of Kerrville.

The wildlife management topics covered will include white-tailed deer management, dealing with feral hogs and provide information on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The purpose of the workshop is to:

  • Provide up to date knowledge pertaining to White-tailed deer (Genetics, Nutrition, and Habitat)
  • Manage Feral Hogs (Eradication, Trapping, Lethal doses of Sodium Nitrite); and
  • Discuss Chronic Wasting Disease (Knowledge and Scientific facts on CWD, Existing/Future regulations pertaining to CWD.

All presentations will be made by TPWD trained specialists and biologists. To register for this wildlife management workshop, contact Brock Minton; (S. TX. Hunter Ed. Specialist) at 361-944-3617 or at brock.minton@tpwd.texas.gov. Seating is limited so if you are interested in learning about managing whitetail and hogs then get signed up ASAP.


Each participant will be responsible for bringing his or her own lunch. Distances to and from area dining facilities are too far from the Kerr WMA and time consuming, and will interfere with workshop’s agenda.The afternoon portion of this workshop will be conducted outdoors. Please be prepared (bug repellant; sun block), and dress (clothing, boots, etc.) for all adverse conditions.

Best of all, there is no charge for this workshop!

Texas Wildlife Management, Tax Valuation Includes Insects

Maintaining property under a wildlife tax valuation is about more than just birds and mammals. Insects are also an important part of the system. Protecting native insect pollinators on private property now comes with new benefits for Texas landowners.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Nongame and Rare Species Program developed new guidelines for landowners to develop wildlife management plans for their properties. If a landowner’s property is currently evaluated under an Agricultural Tax Valuation, they may qualify for an Agricultural Tax Appraisal based on Wildlife Management Use if they follow the new guidelines to protect and support native pollinators.

Private Lands Means Wildlife Management by Property Owners

Because more than 95 percent of Texas lands are privately owned, effective native insect pollinator conservation requires private landowner involvement. Landowners can play a significant role in conserving and maintaining pollinator populations by applying management practices that benefit these species, which support the healthy growth of several agricultural crops for free.

Wildlife Management Guidelines for Tax Valuation

The new guidelines are published in Management Recommendations for Native Insect Pollinators in Texas, which are available online by navigating through the link that appears later in this paragraph. The guidelines outline a suite of different practices that benefit these species, from prescribed burning, native plant re-seeding and installation of native pollinator plots to creating nest sites. The various practices in the guidelines could be applied to small backyards and large ranches alike.


The guidelines address a growing problem: Native insects that are important to pollinating wildflowers and agricultural crops, including some bumble bee species and the monarch butterfly, have experienced dramatic population declines and are in need of conservation action. In addition, significant challenges to managed European honeybee health has sparked interest in native insects as alternative pollinators for agricultural production.

Pollinators are Important for Wildlife & People in Texas

Pollination is one of the most vital processes in sustaining natural ecosystems and agricultural production. The majority of flowering plants that comprise Texas’ diverse ecosystems rely upon insects to transport pollen among flowers, ensuring the production of viable seed. Viable seed is critical for the perpetuation of plant species across the landscape. The annual value of insect-pollinated crops to the U.S. economy is estimated at over $15 billion.

Texas Big Game Awards Banquets: When & Where

Texas Big Awards Program

White-tailed deer hunters can show enter their big game harvest in this year’s Texas Big Game Awards program and give the animal and their land management program the recognition it deserves. The program is accepting entries now through March 1, 2016.

Celebrating its 25th year, the Texas Big Game Awards is a partnership of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Wildlife Association recognizing the contributions landowners, land managers and responsible hunters make to managing and conserving wildlife and wildlife habitat on Texas’ private lands.

Texas Big Game Awards promote awareness about wildlife management and the role that hunting plays in habitat conservation, and to foster cooperation among stakeholders who ensure that our state’s wildlife habitat is conserved forever.

Enter the Big Game Awards

Hunters who harvest a white-tailed deer, mule deer, javelina, or pronghorn antelope this season meeting the minimum net score requirements set for their respective region may be eligible to receive recognition in the “Scored Entry” category. Scoring is done by local certified TBGA scorers using the Boone & Crockett Club Scoring System and entry is free. The landowner where the entry was taken is also eligible to be recognized. Also, hunters that harvest a bighorn sheep during the current season are eligible for recognition through the program.

Hunters of any age who harvest their first big game animal in Texas are eligible for the “First Big Game Harvest” category. Hunters who harvest a white-tailed deer, mule deer, javelina, pronghorn antelope, or bighorn sheep are eligible, regardless of sex or score of the animal in this category.

All youth hunters (hunting under a valid youth hunting license) who harvest a white-tailed deer, mule deer, javelina, pronghorn antelope, or bighorn sheep are eligible for the “Youth Division,” regardless of sex or score or the animal.

Big Game Awards Details

For more information on the Texas Big Game Awards, entry information, or for a local certified TBGA scorer, visit www.TexasBigGameAwards.org or call 210-236-9761.

All awards for each category will be presented only at the Regional Celebration for the region of harvest. Participants are invited to attend their regional banquet, but may attend any of the celebrations. A Statewide Celebration will be coordinated by TWA in conjunction with the TWA Annual Convention held July 15 in San Antonio. The top three animals statewide in each category will be recognized and receive a special award at the statewide ceremony.

Texas Big Game Awards 2016 Regional Banquet Schedule

  • Region 5, 6, 7 — May 14, Lufkin
  • Region1, 2, 3 — June 4, San Angelo
  • Region 4, 8 — June 11, Uvalde

Right to Hunt: Texas Hunters Deserve It

The future of turkey populations and hunting lies in habitat management, protecting plant communities important for wild turkey. This holds true for all wildlife species. No one funds more habitat management, which benefits both game and non-game, than hunters. For this reason alone, our hunting heritage is important.

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) recently donated $10,000 to Texans United for Hunting and Fishing Rights to help raise awareness about Proposition 6 on the upcoming Texas Constitutional Amendment Ballot, because the NWTF firmly believes in the citizens’ rights to hunt and fish.

Proposition 6 proposes an amendment to the Texas constitution that establishes an individual right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife in the Lone Star State. Its passing would ensure wildlife conservation and management decisions continue to be based on sound science in order to protect against future attacks from well-funded, anti-hunting organizations and preserve Texas’ hunting heritage for generations to come.

“The NWTF supports this proposition as it is a natural fit with goals outlined in our Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative,” said NWTF biologist Gene T. Miller. “Sportsmen pay for fish and wildlife conservation efforts in Texas. By helping to pass Proposition 6, we can secure the rights of hunters and fishermen throughout the state and help guarantee the stream of conservation funding will continue.”

Proposition 6 received overwhelming bi-partisan support in the legislature and is supported by a growing coalition of 60 outdoor organizations representing more than 3 million hunters, anglers, landowners and conservationists.

Eighteen states currently guarantee the right to hunt and fish in their state constitutions. Residents voted for and passed the initiatives in 17 of those states. For more information on Proposition 6, please visit Texas United for Hunting and Fishing Rights.

About Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.

The National Wild Turkey Federation Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to give the NWTF more energy and purpose than ever. Through this national initiative, NWTF has committed to raising $1.2 billion to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment. Without hunters, there will be no wildlife or habitat. The NWTF is determined to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.

About Texas United for Hunting and Fishing Rights

Is a specific purpose political action committee dedicated to protecting Texans’ rights to hunt and fish through the passage of Proposition 6 on the November 3, 2015, Constitutional Amendment Ballot. For more information, contact Peter Muller at (803) 637-7698.

Wildlife Management Use Tax Valuation in Texas

The wildlife management use tax valuation is the new answer for Texas landowners asking themselves how they can keep those property tax rates low without having to maintain agricultural production on their properties. Livestock had been the go-to for landowners looking to keep an agricultural tax exemption. Livestock can be great, but on smaller properties where the focus is on wildlife and habitat management, then the wildlife tax valuation makes a lot of sense.

Since the 1990’s, the opportunity to claim a wildlife use to obtain a property tax exemption has been in place in Texas. But it’s not as simple as just signing up. An existing agricultural valuation is necessary before converting to a wildlife exemption, and then an application form and a wildlife management plan must be submitted to the appropriate central appraisal district.

Source: For several years, the opportunity to claim a wildlife appraisal to obtain a tax exemption on property has been in place. But the process can be a little bit daunting. “There are rules in several different places, the Tax Code, the Texas Administrative Code, and there are comptroller-created rules to go along with the guidelines created by TPWD,” said Keith Olenick, senior biologist at Texas Wildlife Company. “It can be hard for a landowner making the switch to a wildlife exemption.”

An existing agricultural valuation is necessary before converting to a wildlife exemption, and then an application form and a wildlife management plan must be submitted to the appropriate central appraisal district. “The application is available online, and the plan is based on a Texas Parks and Wildlife-created form, about 10 pages long,” Olenick said. The landowner can complete the form, but a biologist-prepared form covers the bases a landowner might miss that result in the application being denied, Olenick said.

“A lot of appraisal districts want more than the basic information,” he explained. “They want to see maps and descriptions of the activities that will take place. They aren’t always quick to agree to reduced taxes on thousands of acres in their district.” The Texas Tax Code includes wildlife management in the definition of agricultural uses of land and defines wildlife management.

“Basically, the plan must designate a targeted, native species and the practices need to benefit that species,” Olenick said. “This is the reason most plans are denied.”

Using wildlife management as an agricultural practice to qualify for the 1-d-1 Open Space Agricultural tax appraisal in Texas is not widely understood by many landowners or potential landowners, but implementing management practices can greatly improve hunting on just about any property. While it is relatively easy to switch from traditional agricultural uses such as cattle or hay production to wildlife management agricultural use, there are several guidelines that must be adhered to in order for the property to receive the special agriculture tax appraisal based on wildlife management.

The enjoyment associated with managing for wildlife, however, make the change in land use management worthwhile for many landowners. The results can be improved deer hunting, dove hunting or better populations of other small game species. Landowners are reminded that to qualify for the special tax appraisal, the following issues must be addressed:

1) The property must have already been qualified as 1-d-1 Open-Space Agricultural Use land the year prior to changing to wildlife management use.

2) The land must be used to support a sustaining breeding, migrating, or wintering population of indigenous wild animals. In other words, the primary use of the land must be for managing wildlife and/or habitat.

3) An application for 1-d-1 (Open Space) Agricultural Appraisal must be submitted showing the change in land use to wildlife management and submitted to the appraisal district in the county in which the property is located.

4) A Wildlife Management Plan for Agricultural Tax Valuation must be completed and submitted to the Central Appraisal District in the county in which the property is located.

5) If property has been reduced in size since the previous tax year, minimum tract size requirements must be met to qualify for open space land appraisal for wildlife management use.

Deer Management Program Offered at Kerr WMA

White-tailed deer hunting in Texas is quite popular, but do you know about managing deer populations on your property and how hunting regulations are determined at the county and state level? An upcoming workshop by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be hosted at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area. The workshop aims to help hunters learn more about managing deer in Texas.

The program will be offered March 21-22, 2015. Here are the program specifics; White-tailed Deer: Interaction between genetics and habitat, the role of genetics and nutrition, age structures, carrying capacity and how these issues are translated into harvest regulations, Kerr Wildlife Management Area. Kerrville, Texas. Persons interested in attending the whitetail management workshop should contact Brock Minton at 361-825-3249 for more information.

Improve Deer Hunting - Improve Deer Habitat - Deer Management in Texas

More on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area

The Kerr Wildlife Management Area is owned and operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This area was selected as a land base for the Edwards Plateau ecological area to develop and manage wildlife habitats and populations of indigenous wildlife species, provide a site where research of wildlife populations and habitat can be conducted under controlled conditions, and to provide public hunting and appreciative use of wildlife in a manner compatible with the resource.

The Area’s primary mission is to function as a wildlife management, research, and demonstration site for trained personnel to conduct wildlife related studies and provide resultant information to resource managers, landowners, and other interested groups or individuals to acquaint them with proven practices in wildlife habitat management.

Principal wildlife species found on the Kerr Wildlife Area include white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, javelina, wild turkey, mourning dove, fox squirrel, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, armadillo, ringtail “cat”, rabbit, gray fox, and many species of reptiles and migratory birds.

The Kerr Wildlife Management Area is located at the headwaters of the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. The Area contains 6,493 acres, representative of the Edwards Plateau habitat type of Texas.The Area was purchased in fee title by the State of Texas (Game, Fish and Oyster Commission) in 1950 from the Presbyterian MO Ranch Assembly under the Pittman-Robertson Act using Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program funds.

Wildlife Management for Landowners in Central Texas

Many landowners in Texas are beginning to see the value in managing for wildlife on their ranch, whether it be for hunting game species or for non-consumptive uses. Good habitat and abundant wildlife add a lot to the quality of our lives. As such, landowners interested in managing for wildlife can take advantage of various incentive programs to diversify their income through good land stewardship for livestock and wildlife.

Join the folks in Coryell County on May 6th to hear experts discuss quail and turkey biology and management, feral hog biology and abatement, wildlife management planning for tax purposes, rangeland evaluation, stocking rate calculation, and brush management techniques such as dozing, prescribed fire and herbicide.

Habitat Management for Texas Wildlife

A particular focus will be given to bobwhite quail because of their popularity as a game species, the extreme decline they’ve seen recently, and the fact that the habitat that produces quail also supports scores of other species of wildlife in the rangelands and woodlands of Texas. We will also focus on feral hog abatement as hogs have detrimental impacts to the wildlife we manage for.

Habitat Management and More

Speakers from Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife and USDA-NRCS will present on bobwhite quail biology and management, wild turkey biology and management, feral hog biology and impacts to wildlife, proper brush management techniques, wildlife management use planning, and proper rangeland evaluation for using livestock for wildlife.

In addition to the presentations at the Harman School in the morning, the participants will be visit the Hannah Ranch to watch demonstrations on calculating livestock stocking rates, plant identification, wildlife habitat assessment and feral hog control through trapping.

Wildlife Field Day Registration Details

Where: Harman School Community Center
When: May 6th (8:00 am-4:00 pm)
Pre-registration: Call the Coryell County Agent Pasquale Swaner at 254-865-2414 to register

Black Bears Return to the Texas Hill Country

The mountains of northern Mexico are home to a very stable population of black bears from which individuals sometimes wander over into the Trans-Pecos and western Edwards Plateau looking for new habitat or to carry out part of their life cycle. In recent years, bears have been documented in several hill country counties that include Val Verde, Crockett, Edwards, Sutton, Schleicher, Kimble, Menard, and Kerr. These sightings and encounters are thrilling, but at the same time, this natural phenomenon is met with apprehension because of the misperception of black bears and how they fit into the Texas ecosystems. This mindset sometimes over-shadows the awesomeness and value of the return of a long removed member of these ecosystems. Black bears in Texas are rare, protected and listed as a State Threatened species.

There are 3 known subspecies of black bears in Texas which include the New Mexico black bear located in the Guadalupe Mountains, the Mexican black bear located in West and Central Texas, and the Louisiana black bear located in East Texas, which is also federally protected. It’s a violation of the law to kill a black bear in Texas and can carry penalties of up to $10,000, civil restitution fines, jail time, and the loss of all hunting privileges.

Black Bears in Texas

More About Black Bears in Texas

Mature adult black bears weigh between 130-300 lbs. and grow to a length of 4 to 7 feet long. Adult male black bears are larger than female bears. Black bears have a straight face with flat shoulders, semi-pointed ears, round head, and a short tail. The fur color can vary from black to chocolate brown with gray combinations. Adult bears as well as cubs are excellent climbers.
Black bear paws have short claws to help them climb, dig, gather plant food, and attack small mammals. They use their claws like fingers when they eat. Their front footprints or tracks have an oval base with a curved toe line. The hind paw will have a triangular indentation and the toes are spread out. They also possess an acute sense of smell which they use to their advantage. The black bear is very adaptable, intelligent and quite curious. But on the other hand, this smaller bear species is very shy and generally avoids confrontations by fleeing the area when given an opportunity to do so.

The black bear mating season or breeding usually occurs from May through August with a gestation period of 60 to 70 days. Females generally mate every other year. Mexican black bears do not experience a long term hibernation episode. Birth occurs during January or early February with a litter size of 1 to 3 cubs that are born with their eyes closed and weigh about 1 pound. Baby cubs will stay close to their mother for about 1-1/2 years before leaving to establish their own home territory. As adult bears, male home ranges are very large and can average 20,000 acres; female home ranges are smaller and can average 5,000 acres.

Black Bear Diet

Bears are considered omnivores and by nature are opportunistic feeders that will eat just about anything that is available to them. Their food habits in the Hill Country are very diverse. Approximately 80% of their diet consists of vegetation such as sotol, Texas persimmon, prickly pear cactus, agarita berries, acorns of different species, plant roots, tubers and various grasses. In addition to vegetation, their diet also consists of insects such as ants, grubs, termites and beetles. Small mammals such as rodents, rabbits and of course carrion, often in the form of road kills, are also eaten by black bears.

Bears can become habituated to unnatural or manmade attractants such as the following: garbage in dumpsters or landfills, pet foods, and deer feeders filled with corn or protein pellets. Once bears are habituated to these “easy and accessible” foods, they are very hard to drive away and break this negative habit.

If You Encounter a Black Bear in Texas

The likelihood of having a bear encounter in the wilds of Texas would be uncommon. Within the Hill Country a majority of the reported bear sightings have been associated with some type of manmade food item. Hunters have asked, “What do I do on the deer lease if I encounter a bear?” It is very important to remember that all bears are protected in Texas. In the past, feral hogs have been misidentified for black bears, especially during low light conditions when hunting. Key feral hog physical characteristics include a long head with pointed ears, a definite snout, and eyes positioned on the sides of the head. In comparison, a black bear’s head is rounded with semi-pointed ears and forward-oriented eyes.

Black bears are normally shy and not aggressive toward humans, but if you do encounter a black bear in the wild at close range, talk in a calm manner while slowly backing away. DO NOT MAKE DIRECT EYE CONTACT and DO NOT RUN! This can trigger a bear’s chase instinct. NEVER APPROACH A BEAR! But if a bear approaches you, stand your ground and make yourself appear larger by raising your arms, backpack or jacket. Yell at the bear to scare it off and if by chance you are attacked, fight back aggressively with anything available. Let the bear know you are not easy prey and, by all means, do not play dead when attacked by a black bear.

Tips for Dealing with Texas Black Bears

Recommendations for hunters and the general public in Texas to minimize the likelihood of having a black bear encounter include:

  • Keep headquarters or camps clean to prevent odors that attract bears – Black bear sense of smell is 100 times better than humans and they can smell food items up to 5 miles away
  • Store pet food items and other attractants in a secure place
  • Modify trash dumpster lids and keep them locked from any bear access
  • Hunters can use automated feeders hung 8-10 ft. above the ground and out of reach of bears
  • Use deterrents such as electric fencing or unwelcome mats made with 1” nails to keep bears away from buildings and feeders
  • Do not offer deer corn in piles or in open feeders
  • Discard gut piles away from any human structures
  • If a bear regularly visits your deer stand, scare it away with rocks, a slingshot or air horn

Texas State Officials and Bears

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)policy is to use “aversive conditioning” techniques on nuisance black bears rather than trapping and transplanting. Aversive conditioning associates a negative stimulus such as pepper spray or noise makers with unwanted behavior – in this case coming near humans, human food or human developments. The TPWD’s Official Response Policy is to respond to all black bear sightings or interactions and complete a sighting-incident report. It is recommended that citizens report all black bear sightings to their local TPWD Office.

Texas Hunting Improved by Habitat, Wildlife Management (WHIP)

The one sure-fire way to improve hunting on your property is to get involved in habitat management for wildlife. All animals need food, cover, water and space. If you are interested in better white-tailed deer hunting, turkey hunting, quail hunting, dove hunting or just having more songbirds then the first step is taking action to reach your goals. The next step will be to contact Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. These two agencies can help you help the plant communities on your land, which will in turn help the wildlife and hunting on your land.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Salvador Salinas today announced that NRCS in Texas has $5.5 million in funding available for people who want to develop and implement wildlife management and improve habitat on their land through the agency’s Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). “WHIP helps Texas landowners restore and improve fish and wildlife habitats, and benefit at-risk species,” said Salinas. “This funding will give landowners across the state the opportunity to address wildlife concerns in Texas.”

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program for Management

This funding has been established to improve Bobwhite quail and Pronghorn antelope habitat, as well as for landowners that have lost wildlife habitat through the drought and wildfires of recent years. It will also help other wildlife species that benefit from the habitat management practices implemented for target species. Practices for quail are especially beneficial for whitetail populations and deer hunting. Through WHIP, the NRCS provides both technical assistance and financial assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.

Landowners interested in participating in the program are encouraged to contact their local USDA-NRCS field office, in the nearest USDA Service Center. Applications for WHIP are accepted continuously and the ranking criteria are established by the State Conservationist, based upon input from the state technical committee.

WHIP applications must address traditional natural resource issues such as water quantity, water quality, grazing lands, forest health, soil management, emerging natural resource issues, and climate change. For additional information about WHIP, or to find the NRCS service center nearest you, visit their website. Improved habitat, healthier wildlife populations, better hunting and a cost-share program to boot? Sounds like a recipe for success!