PROSPECTS are bright for this year’s dove, above, early teal, above right, and fall alligator hunting seasons, it seems. Here’s a digest of what hunters can expect.
Dove hunters will have a few more days in the field this year, as the north and central zones have five more hunting days than last year and the south zone has two additional days.
The dove season opened yesterday, Tuesday, in the north and central zones and will open on September 18 in the south zone.
The 2015-2016 is 70 days long, with a 15-bird daily bag limit and a 45-bird possession limit across the state.
According to Shaun Oldenburger, the Texas parks and wildlife department’s dove program leader, the white-winged dove and mourning dove should see production at or above last year’s level.
“Age-ratios from last season indicated very strong production in mourning doves across Texas last year; we expect similar or slightly increased production this year with the improved habitat conditions across nearly all of Texas,” Oldenburger said.
“However, improved habitat conditions equal more food and water on the landscape, which means hunters may need to spend more time patterning mourning doves prior to opening day in their area.”
The TPWD also wants to remind dove hunters to check for legs bands on any birds taken. Bands should be reported by calling 1-800-327-BAND (2263) or by going online to reportband.gov. The bands are small and easy to overlook but reporting provides information for better wildlife management.
A 16-day statewide early teal hunt will run from September 12 until September 27 with a daily teal bag limit of six and a possession limit of 18.
According to the TPWD, duck hunters can anticipate improved conditions for the early teal season as heavy rain has filled lakes and marshes for the first time in several years.
Record numbers of teal are expected to make their way to Texas during the next few months.
“Blue-winged teal numbers – 8.5 million – are way above the minimum of 4.7 million needed for a 16-day season,” TPWD waterfowl program leader Kevin Kraai said.
“Conditions for teal across the state are excellent and hunters are urged to have their fingers crossed for a timely migration in the middle of September.”
According to Kraai, this year’s levels of freshwater inflows into the marshes, estuaries and bays along the Gulf Coast have resulted in large amounts of aquatic vegetative growth. Inland reservoirs and ponds across Texas, which have also been well below storage capacities, have also experienced significant vegetative growth and have become flooded forests of duck food and shelter.
He said habitat conditions have improved because of the substantial rain this past spring and summer.
“These locations, often un-huntable in recent years, should see significant increases in waterfowl usage this coming winter and will be excellent locations for hunters to take advantage of record duck numbers in North America,” he said.
“Overall, the landscape is well-watered and should provide ample habitat for waterfowl wintering in Texas this fall.”
The open season for alligators in 22 core counties and on properties in other counties for which the TPWD has issued CITES tags to the landowner begins on September 10 and runs until September 30.
No person may hunt an alligator without a valid CITES tag on their person.
The core counties for the September alligator season are Angelina, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler and Victoria.
Regulations including lawful hunting hours and means and methods can be found online at tpwd.texas.gov, at all TPWD regional law-enforcement offices or by calling 800-792-1112.
High-powered partnership in plan to protect state coastline
ON MONDAY, the Texas general land office and the US Army Corps Of Engineers teamed up for the first time to develop a plan to protect the Texas coast from storms and to speed recovery afterwards.
Land commissioner George Bush and brigadier general David Hill, commander of the corps’ southwestern division in Dallas, signed the state’s first-ever agreement with the federal government to begin work immediately.
“It has been seven years since hurricanes Ike and Dolly,” Bush said during the signing ceremony.
“We are still just as vulnerable now as we were then. It is time to take action and move forward – and that’s what we’re doing with this agreement.”
The agreement sees the beginning of development of a coastal Texas protection and restoration feasibility study, which will investigate the workability of projects for flood reduction, hurricane and storm damage mitigation and ecosystem restoration along the entire Texas coast.
Hill said: “The Texas coast is not only a treasure but also an economic, environmental and cultural powerhouse that has great significance for our nation. Texas coastal protection has been a key Corps focus for 135 years, since our first engineer office was established on Galveston Island in 1880.”
According to the GLO, more than 7.1 million Texans live along the coast and the unreimbursed damages from the 2008 hurricane season are estimated to be more than $29 billion.
Bush said the cost of further delay in protecting the coastal region is unacceptable as, in addition to millions of residents, it also hosts one quarter of the nation’s refining capacity.
“The Texas coast powers the nation,” he said. “Its vulnerability should be considered a national security issue. By working together as a region – combining and coordinating local, state and federal resources – we will directly address ongoing threats
to the Texas coast for