PBS SHOW Frog Pond, Bobcats, Mustang Island, #2719
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PBS SHOW Frog Pond, Bobcats, Mustang Island, #2719

August 26, 2019

– NARRATOR: The Texas Parks &
Wildlife television series
is funded in part by
a grant from the
Wildlife and Sport Fish
Restoration Program.
Through your purchases of
hunting and fishing equipment,
and motorboat fuels,
over 50 million dollars
in conservation efforts are
funded in Texas each year.
Additional support
provided by Ram Trucks.
Built to serve.Coming up on
Texas Parks & Wildlife… – You have a checkered garter
snake and that’s a common snake in the area
and they love to eat frogs. – I thought we were going to
have a hard time finding cats to catch in these
really urban spots, but there is no shortage
of bobcats. – Generally, people are
coming out here just to go to the beach, whether it’s
for swimming, fishing, surfing, windsurfing,
stuff like that. [theme music] ♪ ♪– NARRATOR:Texas Parks &
Wildlife, a television series
for all outdoors. [playful music] – My name is Don Cash and I’m
one of the producers for the Texas Parks & Wildlife
television show. Here we go! I spend most of my working hours
holed up in a dark edit room, putting the shows together. But that doesn’t mean I never
get to go out and enjoy any actual, real nature. As a matter of fact, when I
leave here and head home, I’ve got my own little nature
preserve waiting for me. This, is my frog pond. [water fountain trickling] The pond got started
about 10 years ago. We dug a hole in the ground, put
in a liner, stacked some rocks, installed a filter, and added
a dozen or so goldfish. Now the goldfish are really
nice, but the pond attracts other animals as well. Every spring, it seems like
every frog in the neighborhood hangs out here. It’s pretty neat. I wanted to know what kind of
frogs they are and why I have so many, so I brought
in an expert. – What’s really neat is that
you basically had a dry chunk of dirt and
you built a pond. When you build a fish pond you
can expect other wildlife to show up. Birds will come and
drink and bathe. Frogs will show up
and breed and feed. And then snakes and other
predators may show up and feed on those frogs. It’s pretty cool. Here’s a sign of a happy,
healthy frog population. This is a whole mass of
frog eggs right here. It’s really nice. You’ve created a
little oasis here. – DON: Well what kind of frogs
do I have here? – ANDY: These are Rio Grande
Leopard frogs. And you have all sizes. That frog right there is one
of the biggest Rio Grande leopard frogs I have ever seen. This is probably the prime
watering hole for frogs in your neighborhood. [water flowing] – DON: The nearest natural water
to my house is a creek about three miles away, but
somehow frogs, and toads, manage to find their way here. Now I don’t know the difference
between frogs and toads, but I do know that a couple of
years ago the pond was taken over by a whole bunch of very
noisy Gulf Coast Toads. [toad calling] – DON: So, how do they
know this is here? – ANDY: That’s a good question. How do frogs know
a pond is here? Part of it is random
chance frogs finding it. But also once a frog finds it
and there’s a male calling, other frogs are going
to be attracted to that. [toad calling] One male calling isn’t enough to
attract females to that site to breed. Once you get several males they
will change their calls and they work together and form
a chorus, and that’s much more attractive to females. [toads calling] – DON: In the spring when it’s
really busy, the pond becomes sort of a, frog buffet. – ANDY: You have a checkered
garter snake and that’s a common snake in the area and
they love to eat frogs. – DON: Yeah, I’ve noticed that
when the snakes are around, the frogs manage to
stay very still. – ANDY: The first line of
defense is to avoid detection, so if the frogs can’t easily
escape or it’s not necessary they’ll just freeze up and hope
the snake notices someone else. You don’t have to
be the fastest frog. They are hoping someone
else moves first. – DON: A couple of things to
note about my pond, these elephant ear plants
aren’t native. We got them from someone
else’s fish pond and they will not go away. And the gold fish, they
came from the pet store. But since my pond is a
self-contained ecosystem, there’s no real danger that the
plants, or the fish, are going to cause a problem elsewhere. – ANDY: So it’s important to go
native, stay local, encourage what you’ve got in
your neighborhood. Certainly don’t introduce exotic
or non-native species to Texas and just be patient. If there are frogs in your area,
they’ll find your pond. – DON: And so the frogs find
my pond, year after year. And I like that. Best frog pond you’ve ever seen? – ANDY: It’s epic. It’s the most amazing nine
square meters in south western Travis County. I think that’s pushing it. [frogs calling]– NARRATOR: Julie Golla
is a graduate student.
When she is home, she looks
after a housecat.
[cat purring] [phone alert]– NARRATOR: But when she leaves
home, it is often because
another kind of cat is calling.– JULIE GOLLA: The allure of
cats and their strength and their stealth…. They’re pretty fascinating. [camera clicks]– NARRATOR: Julie is studying
bobcats, and where she is
finding them might
surprise you.
[car honks]With Texas Parks and Wildlife,
Julie is researching
these wild cats in between
urban Dallas and Fort
Worth.– We’re hoping to answer some
very basic questions about urban bobcats- something
that we know very little about. We do know a decent amount
about them in rural areas, there have been a number of
bobcat studies here in Texas, but nothing urban. We’re genuinely looking at
an area that is completely encompassed by
human development. – JULIE: We’re looking at
just how bobcats move in the city areas. It started out with cameras. Cameras have been very
important, not only to see the number of animals but
to find those hotspots, where we can catch them in a
quick and efficient manner. We’ve gotten quite a
few bobcats on camera. Let’s see what we’ve got. On cameras where we do
get bobcat traffic, that’s where we’ll
put our traps. Opossum, armadillo, mmm hmm, and
then another bobcat walks by. I thought we were going to have
a hard time finding cats to catch in these really urban
spots, but there’s no shortage of bobcats, and so I think
people will be surprised. – DEREK: When they’re developing
a golf course they don’t realize that the strip of trees between
the fairways is serving as a corridor for wildlife, but
it works quite well for us. [water flowing]– NARRATOR: In Euless,
all around the Texas Star
golf course, wildlife
corridors are identified.
Then the real
work begins.– Between seven to ten
traps are open at once. With one person running a trap
line, I can’t do much more than that, and we’ve been
trapping for about 10 weeks. That’s good.– NARRATOR: Julie is no stranger
to catching carnivores.
She has worked with
mountain lions and wolves in
other states, but baiting for
bobcats has its own challenges.
– DEREK: The trouble is when you
put a lot of scent down, a lot of stinky, nasty stuff
and then you’re crawling on your belly. [laughs]– NARRATOR: Odors only
go so far.
– DEREK: Make it rain!– NARRATOR: Attracting bobcats
requires some cat psychology.
– They’re like housecats,
they’re curious, they like smells, they like
feathers, they like furry, shiny stuff, and if they
see something move, it’s going to catch
their attention. And fortunately I can
use that to my advantage.– NARRATOR: Making cat lures
isn’t exactly glamorous….
– DEREK: We’re all
about recycling. – JULIE: Fresh ones. I don’t do rotten road kill.– NARRATOR: But there is plenty
of evidence that the
custom cat toys work.– It’s batting at it. That’s awesome. [laughs] You can tell this one’s
got it and it lets go and it’s probably
flinging around.– NARRATOR: Of course,
getting a cat’s attention
and getting it to enter a trap
are different things.
Bobcats are smart,
wary, and rarely seen.
Just ask someone who works
where a cat can be seen daily.
– MELISSA SOOTER: Bobcats are
about twice the size of your typical housecat. They are native, but people
don’t usually see them because they’re most active when a
lot of people are either just getting up or they’re
going to bed for the night. But they are out there. They’re named the bobcat for
their short little bobbed tail. And uh, just so curious. You can just tell that
they’re constantly thinking. – DEREK: Those are just a lot
of nice, natural funnels.– NARRATOR: Derek and Julie must
be constantly thinking as well:
monitoring cameras, moving
traps, and freshening baits.
– JULIE: I can put fresh raw
meat- squirrel meat, rabbit meat- in a trap and they
still won’t go in, just because it’s like, meh, I’m just going
to go eat my own squirrel. They’re not food motivated
typically, just because they’re so good at what they do. So that’s where it comes into
like just keying in on their curiosity.– NARRATOR: It may seem curious
that a carnivore could even
make a living in this
kind of landscape.
– JULIE: Oh yeah, that’s Euless
Avenue so that’s another un-collared cat. – DEREK: Oh wow. Eight o’clock at night, cars
moving by it just doesn’t even care.– NARRATOR: The number of cats
photographed suggests they
are finding enough to eat.– DEREK: The rats, the mice,
the squirrels, the rabbits, the really small, fuzzy critters
that may be quick to us, but not too quick for a bobcat.– NARRATOR: Between the roads
and buildings, greenbelts
and watersheds connect hunting
and hiding places, but exactly
how cats use these habitats
is not fully understood.
And that is what the
study is all about.
The study area stretches
from the edge of
Fort Worth to Irving
and Grand Prairie.
GPS collars will store data
about daily movements
and ranges of individual cats
for an entire year.
But first the cats
must be captured.
[trap door closes]Some traps can send an
alert when tripped,
but Julie still checks
every trap twice a day.
– Driving to check traps —
literally a wild bobcat chase. Here we go.– NARRATOR: After ten weeks
of trapping…
– This road is due for a bobcat.– NARRATOR: …13 cats have
been captured-
a few too small for collars.Nine cats now wear
the GPS loggers,
but one more is needed
for a full range of data.
– JULIE: She’s thinking
about it.– NARRATOR: The pressure is on.Julie’s friend, Jim,
has come from Idaho
to help trap for a week.– I’m a wildlife biologist
for the Nez Perce tribe. Julie and I worked on a
wolf project up there.– NARRATOR: But so far the
trappers are plagued
by a different animal.– JULIE: Oh, little opossum. Just kind of convince this guy
to go on about his morning. The bar is closed. And there he goes. When you’re trying to catch
certain types of animals, you’re always at the risk of
catching by-catch species. Bye bye, dude. Don’t come back. I missed a cat last night
because something fell on the door and made it close, but she
got on top of the trap at one point, looking through
the front of the trap. Maybe she’ll come back
and check it out again, if the weather holds up. [rhythmic music] [thunder] Nothing. [sigh] [rhythmic music] – DEREK: Capturing the animals,
meeting your quota is your biggest fear at the beginning,
because you don’t know what it’s going to be like. Unless someone’s done it before,
we have no idea if it’s possible or not. – JULIE: Alright, nothing here. [sigh] I no longer have my
camera on my tree. My trap has been messed with. It really sucks. [rhythmic music] Nothing happening. Everything’s come to a
grinding halt it seems. We’re going to get this bobcat. We have to, or we’re
going to go crazy! [laughs] Opossum. I’m somewhat frustrated with
opossums at the moment. Go on! [opossum growling] It’s better than a
stolen camera day. He was a wonderful
good squirrel. – JIM: A-1 in his prime. – JULIE: Now he looks terrible. [rhythmic music] ♪ ♪ Tracks? Those are bobcat. Well there was probably a
opossum in the trap so they couldn’t go in. I don’t know how much more
of this I can even take. Always hope for tomorrow. – I was hopeful that we’d catch
at least one bobcat. Time’s up for me, I have
to leave this afternoon. It’s disappointing
not to catch one, but I fully understand
that’s how it goes. – DEREK: 4:52 PM, I was just
about to head out the door and I got a text, so I came to
check the trap and sure enough, there was a bobcat in the trap. Right next to a very busy road,
right at rush hour. [bobcat growls]– NARRATOR: Derek is
first on the scene.
[bobcat snarls] – DEREK: If I had to guess,
I’d say it’s a juvenile male. Looks like he’s a
healthy animal.– NARRATOR: Julie is just
dropping Jim at the airport….
– Bobcat!– NARRATOR: …but still
happy for the news.
[cheers on phone] [laughs]The crew is soon assembled.– Yes! – This would have been an
excellent April Fool’s Day joke. – JULIE: If this is a joke,
I’m going to be very upset! [laughs]– NARRATOR: But this time
it’s no opossum.
– JULIE: Let’s do 16 pounds
for him.– NARRATOR: The crew readies
a sedative cocktail to be
delivered with great care
and an extra-long syringe.
– JULIE: And Derek’s going to
act as my decoy to kind of keep the cat facing him. [growling] Got him. It takes about five minutes
for the drug to take effect, so we’ll walk away
and let him go down. We’ll wait until about 7:45. [claps] Good sleepy kitty. We’ll go to a much quieter
location, not only for us, but also for the bobcat. Because even though they’re
down and immobilized, they can still hear, they
can still sense light and fast movement that can kind
of make their heart rate faster so we want to keep things as
calm and quiet as possible throughout the capture. Thank you kindly, sir. He’s not able to blink right
now, so this is just artificial tears. – NARRATOR:The cat is
thoroughly looked after,
while being thoroughly weighed,
measured and documented.
– JULIE: Seven point five. Some of these cats have a lot of
spotting, almost leopard-like, but yeah, these arm bars,
that’s how we identify them. They’re very easy to see
in nighttime photos, so that’s what we
get pictures of. [shutter clicks] – DEREK: Okay. – JULIE: You want to get good
solid information, because this is a lot of
work that goes into every bobcat we catch. – DEREK: We’re very excited and
happy that we’re adding another member to our
research group… The fact is we still
have a job to do and we don’t take
it very lightly.– NARRATOR: As night falls,
additional data is gathered,
but not only for their study.– JULIE: This is for
parasitology, this is for disease, this is for genetics,
this is for rodenticide. We’re getting a lot of
information from these bobcats.– NARRATOR: But for Julie
and Derek’s research…
– JULIE: Okay, kitty.– NARRATOR: …fitting the
tracking collar is
the most important step.– DEREK: In a year, when we
get that collar back, it could potentially be
giving us 3,500 locations. – JULIE: Perfect. Alright he’s kind of waking up. [trap rattling] [dramatic music] Just set it down. It’s always stressful doing this
because you take the animal’s well being in your hands when
you work with them like this, but we did everything right, and
everything went really well. He’s doing great right now. – DEREK: It’s relieving to
see that the animal is coming out in great shape. – JULIE: Just give him
like 20 minutes. – Last cat captured and
collared- excellent day! – Having good days like today
makes me know we can get the most out of this effort. [bobcat snarls] I didn’t even do the
thermometer, okay? I think he’s good. [dramatic music]– NARRATOR: Four and a half
months after the release,
bobcat B14 and most of the
study’s cats can be
regularly located by the radio
beacons on their collars.
But not all.– JULIE: We did have a cat,
she lived off of a six lane street and she ended
up getting hit by a car. We’re sad to have lost a bobcat,
but it’s such valuable information in our study, so we
can learn about the challenges that these cats overcome and
sometimes don’t overcome when it comes to living
in an urban landscape. [radio chatter]– NARRATOR: But two more cats
have also gone missing…
– PILOT: Everybody ready?– NARRATOR: …and taking to
the sky holds the best hope
for finding them.– DEREK: Our main objective is
to locate these missing animals, but a secondary goal is to
find out where they are not. Flying is a little bit more
expensive than it is on the ground, one flight can save
you weeks of ground effort. [dramatic music] – NARRATOR:Within a half hour
of takeoff, there is good news.
– DEREK: Yeah, he’s
definitely in here. He’s even back there-
I can hear nothing, nothing, nothing, pulse.– NARRATOR: …One of the two
cats is found just beyond
his last known location.– JULIE: That’s awesome. We’ll go check up on him
later today and just see what he’s doing.– NARRATOR: Within the week the
second missing cat is spotted
on a trail camera- the radio
beacon has stopped working,
but the collar is still intact.– When you strap electronic
equipment to a wild animal, you’re never quite sure how
that’s going to hold up. It’s definitely that way. I can’t track him with my
telemetry equipment anymore, but I can still try and monitor
his presence with these cameras and we can hopefully try
and recapture him and remove the collar ourselves.– NARRATOR: It will be months
before the remaining collars
drop off and reveal new secrets
about the lives of
urban bobcats, but the study
is already shedding new light
on how their habitats
overlap with ours.
– DEREK: He was spotted
about here? – Yeah. – But he was also
spotted about here? – JULIE: We’ve got cats
sleeping under roadways, they’re hunting on golf courses. We’re finding that bobcats are
in neighborhoods on a daily basis and people rarely see
them and rarely have problems. If you see a bobcat, don’t
approach it or try to feed it. As long as we respect
them as wild animals, we can continue to share
this space with wildlife. – DEREK: They’re here. They’re valuable. They’re excellent critters,
and to strive in an urban environment,
that’s incredible. [dramatic music] [playful music] ♪ ♪ – People, when they come
out to the island, they’re looking for relaxation. So the minute they get here,
they get set up, that’s all they’re looking to
do is just sit back, relax. Take it at their own pace. [upbeat music] – In Texas, I don’t think a
lot of people realize within hours you can be here,
and when you sit out in this breeze coming off the water,
it’s just great!– NARRATOR: Just minutes from
Corpus Christi, there’s
a state park that’s a
beachgoers paradise.
[waves rolling] – DAMON: Generally, people are
coming out here just to go to the beach, whether it’s for
swimming, fishing, surfing, windsurfing, stuff like that,
or just to go for a stroll and spend some time with
the kids on the beach. [kids laughing] – These guys have just
been happy cause there’s so many other kids here,
and they’re playing, and they’re seeing new stuff. I think that’s the biggest
draw is there’s something for all of us. I mean we like to hang out and
just sit on the beach, and as you can see they’re
tearing it up playing and surfing so it’s good. [waves]– NARRATOR: And if you look
down along the shoreline,
you’ll see plenty of birds.[Sanderlings tweet]This coastal barrier
island is big for birding.
– BIRDER: Oh wow! [Sanderlings tweet] – DAMON: Mostly out here people
are coming to get the shorebirds. – BIRDER: Look at em go,
look at em go, wow! – DAMON: The things you are only
going to see out on the gulf beaches and maybe in
the tidal flats on the backside of the island. – BIRDER: If you can see them in
the scope moving to the right, right now. That’s a snowy. – BIRDER: This is great! – BIRDER: So if you look at this
guy that’s feeding in the water, those are black necked stilts. – BIRDER: How lovely, what a
very elegant looking bird! [energetic music]– NARRATOR: While some like
to watch birds,
kite-surfers fly like them.– There’s room for everybody,
nice big beaches, and there’s just miles of
wide open waves down there, it’s an amazing spot. We love it!! [energetic music]– NARRATOR: For kite-surfers,
birders, or beach bums,
Mustang Island State Park
is worth a visit.
[waves] – DAMON: You know that surf at
night hearing that rolling, put you right to sleep. So it’s beautiful for
camping and relaxing. [waves rolling] [crickets, birds, cicadas] [crickets, birds, cicadas] [crickets, birds, cicadas] [crickets, birds, cicadas] [birds, water trickles] [birds, water trickles] [birds, water trickles] [birds, water trickles] [birds, water trickles] [birds, water trickles] [birds, water trickles] [birds, water trickles]– NARRATOR: This series is
funded in part by a grant
from the Wildlife and Sport
Fish Restoration Program.
Through your purchases of
hunting and fishing equipment,
and motorboat fuels,
over 50 million dollars
in conservation efforts are
funded in Texas each year.
Additional support
provided by Ram Trucks.
Built to serve.

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