The Texas Tech Chapter of The Wildlife Society co-hosted the Wild Texas Film Tour with the Department of Natural Resources Management from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Red Raider Ballroom.
A series of short films were showcased on native wildlife, natural features of landscape and conservation efforts.
The event was hosted by filmmaker and conversationalist Ben Masters, who did short panels with the creators of the short films between the film screenings.
“The Wild Texas Film Tour came about after doing a bunch of short films that took so much time and effort to tell these different stories about native wildlife,” he said.“The short films were released to Facebook, and people would sit there and watch them on a little bitty screen, but we created the films for the big deer to look really big and beautiful and also to bring people together, so we decided to put together some short films, host some film screenings, and bring speakers out.”
This is the second year doing this film festival, Masters said, but the first year in Lubbock.
“Our ultimate goal is to create this deal that goes around Texas every single year and show a bunch of Texas wild adventures and conservation stories, because obviously there is a demand for it, and it's just fun,” he said.
The screening included short films about wildlife in Texas such as quails, mule deer and mountain lions.
Ron Kendall, head of The Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory, had a short film on the declining population of the Bobwhite quail.
“In Ron Kendall’s film on the declining population of the Bobwhite, his passion for quail and love for research was very visible,” Masters said.
Kendall’s passion goes back to his childhood, where his grandfather mentored him in quail hunting; they were always an outdoors family.
“By 12 years old, I knew I wanted to study chemicals in the environment and disease in wildlife," Kendall said. "I had developed a deep passion and interest."
Kendall and his family live with quail on their property, he said.
“When you live with your birds, you know your wildlife,” he said. “That's when we started developing a lot of deep interest as to how to target quail to deliver a treatment one day, because we know they’re under stress from a variety of factors.”
This year, Kendall and his team identified more than 80 percent or 90 percent of quail had been decimated.
“This is not just a bird we all appreciate, they are highly valuable economically,” he said. “The film highlights how quail hunters come to Texas and bring thousands and thousands of dollars into our economy; that means a lot when you're in all these little towns throughout the Rolling Plains.”
There are 160 quail season days during the year, Kendall said, and there is one ranch where it cost $3,000 to quail hunt for two days.
“The ranch had so many people that came in everyday throughout the season to hunt that they had to completely cancel the entire quail hunting season this year," Kendall said. "That's millions of dollars just for that one ranch, so it's actually a huge business.”
The quail is becoming a threatened organism, Kendall said, but hunting organizations have tremendously supported his laboratory and research.
“These lows are so dramatic that it will take years for that population to recover for sustainable hunting,” he said. “Once you lose the hunting revenue and the conservation dollars then you don't have the management dollars or research pushing forward; everyone has to work together.”
Kendall’s film highlights the tough life out there for quail and the dramatic population fluctuations.
“You can have a lot of quail in July and maybe very few quail by November, when quail season comes,” he said. “We’re starting to unfold the answers now as to what are the real smoking guns, nevertheless our science continues to unfold, and it's been a passion to work this hard with my group.”
Sara Hamilton, a senior natural resource management with a focus in conservation science major from Austin and president of Wildlife Society at Tech, said it has been a pleasure to be a part of The Wildlife Society.
"We recently got to go out to the field and do mule deer captures, which involves helicopters and rocket nets,” she said. “A lot of the club members did not have any experience, but we were under trained professionals, so we learned proper protocol and how to properly handle mammals."
The film screening was a great opportunity to team up with The Wild Texas Film Tour to support wildlife and inform people of it, Hamilton said.