The Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) will secure $1.3 billion annually for state fish and wildlife agencies to undertake significant, proactive conservation of imperiled species. This will provide dedicated funding for State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs), which assess the health of fish and wildlife within each state and outline the conservation actions necessary to prevent them from becoming listed under the Endangered Species Act. One SWAP success story is the Guadalupe Bass in Texas.
The Guadalupe Bass (Micropterus treculii), is endemic to the South Llano River and other flowing waters of Texas. It is a popular species with fishermen in the central part of the state and also serves as the state fish of Texas. The Guadalupe Bass faced displacement in the 1970s due to the introduction of stocks of Smallmouth Bass. The Smallmouth Bass and the Guadalupe Bass crossed, producing a hybrid fish that displaced the native Guadalupe Bass. The Texas State Wildlife Protection Plan created a strategy to help mitigate the loss of pure Guadalupe Bass before the cost of intervention became too high. State Wildlife Grants, private donations, and grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation were crucial in the re-introduction of this species.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) initiated a successful hatchery program in 1992 in order to increase the number of pure Guadalupe Bass, and have since stocked 2,355,807 fish. As a result of successful stocking, there are less than 2% of hybrids in the Guadalupe Bass population. Landowners have also been key in the success of bringing back Guadalupe Bass populations. As a result of local conservation workshops, over 78,000 acres of ranchlands implemented stewardship practices resulting in the restoration of 7,754 acres of Guadalupe Bass habitat.
The positive economic impact of the Guadalupe Bass is an added benefit to bringing back populations of this treasured symbol of Texas. A recent study done by Texas Tech University Llano River Field Station found that river fishing in Hill Country contributed $71 million to the economy over a 16-month period. In a survey of anglers in Hill Country, 42% specifically targeted Guadalupe Bass.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would allow for the continuous efforts of raising Guadalupe Bass stocks through the Guadalupe Bass Restoration Initiative. This initiative would stock 500,000 pure Guadalupe Bass annually, as well as address habitat degradation that is essential to Guadalupe Bass recovery. Under RAWA, the state of Texas would receive an estimated additional $60 million for conservation of Guadalupe Bass and many other imperiled species. (Click here to see an estimate of how much your state would receive.)
A special thanks to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for information on the Guadalupe Bass.
Send your SWAP success stories to Drew Winters at [email protected]