DUCKS UNLIMITED AND the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) are working to improve wetland habitat on Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area in Freestone County.
The first phase of the project was completed in July 2017, and the second phase was completed in June 2018. Together, the two phases enhanced 385 acres of wetland habitat through the installation of new levees, spillways and water control structures.
The project was funded by TPWD with State Migratory Game Bird Stamp funds, and this area is included in their annual public hunting program. Ducks Unlimited provided engineering and design services and managed project construction.
Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lies almost entirely within the Trinity River floodplain. As such, the WMA is subject to periodic and prolonged flooding. The enhancement work improved management infrastructure so that staff can optimize habitat for wetland dependent wildlife, including waterfowl.
Numerous marshes and sloughs provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl, wading birds and shore birds. In addition, the area’s bottomland hardwood forests serve as nesting and brood rearing habitat for many species of neotropical birds and wood ducks.
TPWD manages Richland Creek WMA to provide quality consumptive and non-consumptive recreational opportunities for the public. It sits on the southeast side of the Richland Chambers Reservoir about an hour and a half south of Dallas.
—by ANDI COOPER
BEGINNING THIS FALL, hunters in Texas will be able to use air guns and arrow guns that meet criteria established under new rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The regulations create a new category of legal means for hunting in Texas defined as pre-charged pneumatic devices. Unlike pellet guns and traditional air rifles that can be charged manually or with an attached CO2 cartridge, pre-charged pneumatic air guns and arrow guns are those weapons for which an unignited compressed gas propellant is supplied or introduced from a detached source.
The TPW Commission decision follows months of scrutiny to avoid creating undue risks of wounding of wildlife from pneumatic weaponry. These devices must meet minimum standards of ballistic efficacy.
Minimum ballistic specifications of pre-charged pneumatics approved by the Commission for hunting alligators, big game and Rio Grande turkeys are: .30 caliber bullets weighing at least 150 grains powered by an unignited compressed gas propellant charge capable of attaining a muzzle velocity of at least 800 feet per second (fps) OR any bullet weight and muzzle velocity combination that produces at least 215 foot pounds of energy.
For furbearers, pre-charged pneumatics must be at least .30 caliber. For squirrels, chachalaca, quail and pheasant an air rifle does not need to be a pre-charged pneumatic, but it must be able to propel a minimum .177 caliber projectile at least 600 fps.
In addition to minimum standards for pre-charged pneumatic devices, the Commission adopted provisions that hunter education certification requirements be met in order to hunt any wildlife resource.
At least 10 other states permit the use of pneumatic devices for hunting big game, and all but three states allow their use for hunting certain other wildlife species. Their use in Texas previously was limited to hunting anything other than game animals (except squirrels), game birds, alligators, and furbearers.
The new rules will take effect Sept. 29, 2018. Additional information on the use of air guns and arrow guns is available online.