The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) unveiled a new website April 13 to educate and inform Texans about alligator gar – the largest freshwater fish in Texas and one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America. The site, which can be found at tpwd.texas.gov/texasgar, features informational articles about alligator gar and the findings of studies conducted by TPWD biologists.
The new website was created by TPWD Inland Fisheries staff to provide anglers and non-anglers with all the information they need about Texas alligator gar in one place. That includes information on alligator gar identification, management, distribution and fishing tips and tactics.
“There is a lot of misinformation floating around about alligator gar regarding their impact on other fish, where they are located throughout the state and population sizes of the gar that live in our reservoirs and rivers,” said Dave Buckmeier, Research Program Director. “This website will provide Texans with a one-stop shop to find science-based facts and information about alligator gar and clear up some of the confusion surrounding these misunderstood fish.”
Some other common myths and misconceptions about alligator gar addressed on the website include the idea that they attack humans, that they are not native to Texas, that they are invasive and that their populations are plentiful throughout their range.
“Alligator gar are only present in a handful states in the country, and although Texas has some of the most robust populations, these fish still face challenges related to angling pressure and limited access to floodplain spawning habitats,” said Dan Daugherty, TPWD research biologist. “In order to sustain this unique fishery for future generations of anglers we want to engage the public and provide a better understanding of these fish both as a recreational resource and as a valuable part of the ecosystem.”
To date, TPWD research has focused on understanding how long they 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 website is hosting pre-registration for an upcoming constituent survey that will 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 the species.
“With this survey we will be targeting both anglers and non-anglers in an effort to reach an audience as diverse as Texas itself,” said Warren Schlechte, TPWD research biologist. “The goal is to gain a better understanding of who our constituents are, how our anglers like to fish, their harvest practices, and how they would like to see alligator gar managed in the future.”
The constituent survey will launch in June, but anglers can pre-register now on the new website here. Pre-registered anglers and non-anglers will be notified via email when the survey launches this summer.
Other resources on the new alligator gar website include links to the species description, current fishing regulations statewide and in select reservoirs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine feature articles related to this important species and a list of publications related to alligator gar life history and management.
To learn more, visit the alligator gar website at tpwd.texas.gov/texasgar.
Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department