Deadly Bat Fungus Spreads
The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats, detected for the first time in Texas in early 2017 in the Panhandle, has now spread into Central Texas.
Though no bat deaths have been attributed to WNS in Texas, the syndrome has killed millions of bats in the eastern parts of the United States, raising national concern. A coalition of groups in Texas is continuing work to monitor the spread of the disease.
The fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, was detected at several sites in four new counties (10 total) this year, including two sites each in Blanco and Kendall counties and one site each in Foard and Wheeler counties. The fungus was detected on cave bats, tri-colored bats, Townsend’s big-eared bats and a single Mexican free-tailed bat. No signs of WNS were reported. Biologists say it usually takes a few years after detecting the fungus for the disease to manifest.
The detection on a Mexican free-tailed bat occurred at Old Tunnel State Park in Central Texas — the first-ever detection of the fungus on this species.
“Treating white-nose syndrome is extremely difficult,” says TPWD mammalogist Jonah Evans, explaining that bats can spread the fungus long distances, and the fungus can persist in the environment for long periods of time.
Plus, cave ecosystems are sensitive and frequently contain rare species that may be affected by treatments. “TPWD is supporting treatment development and field trials when possible while working to ensure potential impacts to caves and non-target species are minimized,” Evans says.
Snapper Season Doubles
Private recreational anglers fishing in federal waters off the Texas coast will see a projected 82-day red snapper season starting June 1 under an agreement between TPWD and the National Marine Fisheries Service, an increase of 40 days from last year.
The agreement will allow TPWD to establish the opening and closing of the red snapper fishery in federal waters off the Texas coast for private recreational anglers fishing from their own vessels in 2018
State waters (out to 9 nautical miles) are expected to remain open year-round. Bag and size limits will remain unchanged under the permit.
Help TPWD better manage this resource by downloading the iSnapper app on your smartphone and reporting your red snapper landings.
TPWD Unveils New Alligator Gar Website
TPWD has a new web page — tpwd.texas.gov/texasgar — to educate and inform Texans about alligator gar, the largest freshwater fish in Texas and one of the largest in North America. The site features information on alligator gar identification, management, distribution and fishing tips and tactics, as well as findings from TPWD biologists’ studies.
To date, TPWD research has focused on understanding how long alligator gar live, how fast they grow, how often they successfully reproduce and how healthy our populations currently are. But while they have learned a great deal about these topics, researchers know relatively little about the anglers who fish for them.
To help answer this question, the new alligator gar web page is hosting a constituent survey to gather information about people’s preferences, attitudes and opinions about these fish. This information will be used by researchers to help inform upcoming management decisions about fishing rules and regulations for alligator gar.