Texas’ Fourth Annual Pollinator BioBlitz

Monarch Butterfly

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department | Austin Texas

For the next two weeks, Texans are invited to take part in the fourth statewide Pollinator BioBlitz. The goal of the BioBlitz, which runs from Oct. 4-20, is to raise awareness of the diversity and importance of pollinators while bringing greater attention to the critical habitat needs of monarchs and native pollinators across the state.

In support of the event, organizations and sites around the state will be hosting a variety of events to get people outdoors to observe pollinators of all types in yards, natural areas, gardens, parks and community centers. Of course, you don’t have to visit a particular site to participate; your very own yard or green space will do.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge will be holding Butterfly Garden Walks on October 5th and October 19th. Butterflies and all Texas pollinators have suffered during this hot summer. Now that the weather has begun to cool a bit, the pollinators are out feeding on fall blooming flowers.

“Documented declines in insect populations, particularly pollinators, have brought to the forefront the need to better understand these species and the support they provide Texas rangelands, agriculture and native ecosystems,” says Ross Winton, invertebrate biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Texas is home to thousands of pollinator species from the iconic monarch down to the smallest solitary bee.”

Citizen scientists involved in projects like this help us gather data on Texas species and the plant communities they are connected to, Winton adds. This helps us learn not only what we have in our great state but also what we need to strive to protect.

The BioBlitz is designed to be fun for all ages, with no experience required. Participants are simply asked to look for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and moths, as well as nectar-producing plants; photograph or take video of them; and share their discoveries online via Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #TXPollinators. Plant and insect species may be difficult to identify, so observers are encouraged to post what they know. For example, “Striped bee on Turk’s cap in Mission, Texas” is fine.

Participants are encouraged to take it a step further and help increase the amount of data collected during the peak of fall migration by becoming a citizen scientist. Anyone can sign up and record their observations through the iNaturalist application on their phones or home computers. All pollinators and flowering plants posted between Oct. 4-20 will automatically be included in the 2019 Texas Pollinator BioBlitz Project at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/2019-texas-pollinator-bioblitz.  There is no cost to participate and the only tools needed are a camera or smartphone and internet access.

In addition to the monarch, 30 species of pollinators have been designated as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” by TPWD. Native butterflies, bees, moths, bats, hummingbirds, wasps, flies and beetles are essential to healthy ecosystems and sustain native plant species, human food crops and crops for livestock.

To learn more about the importance of pollinators, sign up to be counted, and locate events across the state, visit the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/pollinators.

Participants can also sign up for weekly email updates during the event that will add to the excitement as everyone works together to increase awareness of our pollinators and the availability of their habitat.

Join event partners TPWD, National Butterfly Center, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Wildlife Federation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as we celebrate the importance of pollinators.

It’s easy to get involved. Individuals and families, schools and clubs are all asked to join, observe, identify and share. At this time of year, cooler temperatures across the state also alert bees to eat as much as they can before hibernation begins, so it’s the perfect time to photograph, post and record the insects you see while enjoying the great outdoors.

To view a video news report about the Pollinator BioBlitz, visit https://youtu.be/IamRvnr7218.

Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp Design Competition Underway

Artists wishing to participate in this year’s Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design competition have until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31, 2017, to submit their artwork. The Northern Shoveler is this year’s selected subject for the prestigious contest that has been conducted annually since 1980 by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Northern Shoveler

The winning artwork will serve as the design for the 2018-19 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp, which can be purchased by waterfowl hunters in the state and stamp collectors nationwide. The winning artist will receive a $1,200 purchase award courtesy of NatureWorks, a Tulsa-based conservation organization.

The state waterfowl hunting license is required to be carried by anyone hunting waterfowl in Oklahoma, unless exempt. The license costs $10 and will go on sale June 1, 2017, online at wildlifedepartment.com, in person at the Department’s temporary headquarters, or from hundreds of hunting license vendors across the state.

Any waterfowl hunting license buyer may request a physical stamp in person at the Wildlife Department’s temporary headquarters, 2145 N.E. 36th St. in Oklahoma City. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax appropriations, so revenue from waterfowl license/stamp sales is an important source of funding for in-the-field habitat work to benefit waterfowl and other wetlands wildlife. Since Oklahoma’s waterfowl stamp program began, about 12,000 acres of habitat has been purchased and many thousands of acres of habitat has been enhanced, restored and maintained for the benefit of waterfowl.


Green Winged Teal
This artwork of a green-winged teal by Mark S. Anderson of Sioux Falls, S.D., will appear on the 2017-18 Oklahoma Waterfowl stamp.

The 2017-18 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp will feature a green-winged teal in artwork created by Mark S. Anderson of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Contest entries must be original two-dimensional artworks rendered on a flat surface (not canvas) in acrylic, oil, watercolor, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other similar media. The artwork must be oriented horizontally and sized 6.5 inches high by 9 inches wide. Each artwork must be matted with white matboard with an outside measurement of 9 inches high by 12 inches wide. Artwork cannot be framed or under glass but can be protected by a removable covering such as acetate.

Voting by the public will take place online and count as part of the scoring. Department judges will then consider each artwork in terms of anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. Any background habitat depicted must be typical of an Oklahoma locale.

Entries are limited to one artwork per artist, and a $20 nonrefundable entry fee is required. Mailed entries should be sent to Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Ground deliveries should be made to 2100 N.E. 37th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73111.

While the Wildlife Department no longer produces prints of the winning artwork, a few limited-edition prints from previous years are still available for sale. To order, go to wildlifedepartment.com. Complete contest rules are online at wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/species/waterfowl/duck-stamp-program/rules. For more contest information, call (405) 521-4632. have until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 1, 2017, to submit their artwork.

Resist Urge to “Rescue” Young Wildlife

Fawn in tall grass

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation | May 8, 2017

Springtime brings renewal in nature. It’s a time of abundance when new life and new growth emerge, continuing the ancient cycle that defines the outdoor world.  Unfortunately each spring, well-meaning people interrupt nature’s balance because they want to “rescue” newborn and young animals that, at first glance, might appear to be abandoned.

“If you find newborn wildlife while in your yard or in the woods that appears to be alone, chances are an adult animal is nearby and is simply waiting for you to move along so they can take care of their young,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Fawn in tall grass
This spring, many people will walk up on a fawn that appears to be alone. Biologists say it is best to resist the urge to help because adult animals are likely nearby. [MATT JOHNSON / READERS SHOWCASE 2016]
People who happen across a hatchling bird or a young fawn are urged to leave them and move away from the area. “It is common for fawns to remain in a safe place while does feed nearby, and interfering with that always causes more harm than good. It’s also best to leave birds, young squirrels and other wildlife alone as well.”

Biologists say that people trying to help can actually be more stressful on young wildlife than if those people would have simply left them alone.

“The willingness among well-meaning sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts to want to help is a good thing, but choosing to allow nature to run its course is often the best help we can offer young wildlife,” Hickman said.

Not only is it best to not interfere in nature, it also could be illegal. Many people don’t realize there are laws that protect most wildlife species, and those laws prohibit people from handling or “rescuing” wildlife.