Category Archives: Texas Wildlife

The Great Wall of Trump – Not so Great for Texas Wildlife

The Texas Tribune (in an article by Kiah Collier and Neena Satija) explains how the Great Wall of Trump planned for the border will have a potentially devastating impact on wildlife in the incredibly bio-diverse region that is the Texas-Mexico border along the Rio Grande or as Red prefers the Rio Bravo del Norte.   The problem is made greater because the Congress allowed the Department of Homeland Security to basically ignore all the environmental laws that would’ve required the agency to fully study how the Great Wall of Trump would affect wildlife.

 What the border fence has kept out instead, according to environmentalists, scientists and local officials, is wildlife. And the people who have spent decades acquiring and restoring border habitat say that if President Donald Trump makes good on his promise to turn the border fence into a continuous, 40-foot concrete wall, the situation for wildlife along the border — one of the most biodiverse areas in North America — will only get worse.

When you envision the U.S.-Mexico border, you might think of a barren, dusty desert. But it actually ranks among the most biodiverse places in North America — particularly the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. The Valley is home to some of the last remaining tracts of sabal palm forest in the country — a lush, subtropical ecosystem that is prime habitat for an endangered wild cat called the ocelot.

Two major migratory bird paths also converge in the region, and several tropical bird species there can’t be found anywhere else in the United States. More than 100 other endangered species may be impacted by construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to an analysis of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data.

As Red has noted, this is what the people voted for and this is what they deserve to get.   Screw a bunch of ocelots and coatis if it will keep one more illegal alien from trying to make a better life for himself or herself in the land of the free.   And it will be a minor deal compared to the screwing that many Trump voters are going to get with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Birds Gone Wild

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The Great Texas Birding Classic celebrates its 20th version this year.  The event has changed over the years, but it is a great opportunity for the amateur birder to strut his or her stuff.  The Palestine Herald Tribune has the details.  The event is open to anyone and you can sign up here.  The deadline is April 1, so don’t miss out on the worm.

Next month, hundreds of birders will flock to the coast, forests, prairies and mountains of Texas to compete in the nation’s biggest, longest and wildest bird watching tournament. The registration deadline for the 20th annual Great Texas Birding Classic, which runs from April 15 to May 15, is April 1.

Since the Classic started 20 years ago, a lot has changed. The competition has expanded statewide to record participation, and it’s no longer just for experts since new categories appeal to budding naturalists and avid birders alike.

Competitors can choose from more than 40 tournament categories to test their birding skills, participating for as little as half a day or as long as a week in a statewide tourney. Participants form a team and compete in such categories as the Big Sit!, in which birders must remain within a 17-foot-diameter circle to count their birds. Other categories include a sunrise-to-noon event, youth-only tournaments, a human-powered contest and one tournament held entirely within Texas state parks.

Weekend Improvement Project – Not for the Squeamish

Keep on moving if viewing a dead wild hog is going to ruin your day.  Red understands and is not judgmental about those who are judgmental about Red.

Red was out exercising his new and entirely superfluous constitutional right to hunt in Texas this weekend.  Red clearly understands that hunting is not for everyone and that not everyone will approve.  That said, wild hogs are a complete menace in Texas.  They harm the land, cause erosion and soil loss, destroy vegetation, displace and predate on native fauna and are on rare occasions dangerous.   The weekend tally was Red 1 Hogs 1.   Red will be distributing a lot of sausage to friends and family this Christmas.

Evan Hog

Cricket Season is Almost Here

Red remembers walking around the Capitol Building on a hot September night many years ago and it seemed the whole façade was swarming with crickets.  Red had flashbacks to that invasion of the giant grasshoppers movie that scared the living daylights out of him on one of his first sleepovers.  The experts claim that conditions might be just right for another massive cricket invasion in the next few weeks.  KXAN has the details.

 It’s the time of year when people will hear more chirping as crickets start to pop up around Central Texas.  “The best indication of a cricket outbreak is past history and in the past, Texas has experienced big cricket outbreaks,” explained Alex Wild, Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas. He said those outbreaks in past years happened when there was a lot of food for crickets to eat, followed by a dry summer and then rain at the end of summer.

“Only time can tell, it looks like it might be a good season, but until we see the washes of crickets piling up on our porches, it’s going to be hard to predict,” said Wild.

Exterminators like Joe Cantu, Vice President of Operations for Bug Master, said they tend to see more cricket activity between August and September. “It’s one of those pests where nobody wants to have around. It’s a nuisance pest, they’re overwhelming, they really smell, so the phone starts ringing,” said Cantu.

Experts suggest people control the lighting around their homes and businesses because crickets are attracted to the lights at night. Cantu said the critters will harbor in cracks and crevices during the day. “If you see them during the day pretty active, that’s a big problem,” said Cantu. “There’s a heavy pressure of crickets if you start seeing a lot of them during the day.”

“I don’t know what people’s issues are with crickets, I personally find them charming, but generally I don’t think businesses like having insects washed up in big numbers around their entrances,” said Wild.  “Sometimes if they’re are enough of them, they’ll pile up after mating when they’re at the end of their life cycle, they’ll just pile up and the bodies will pile up and that can lead to some pretty bad smells.”  Wild said crickets are, “harmless animals, they don’t bite or sting, it’s mainly just the nuisance of having things around that you weren’t expecting.”

One place where they may be unexpected are football games where the crickets are attracted to the lights.  “They might have just wanted to see the game but I’m not going to speak for the crickets,” said Wild jokingly.

Photo from Premium Crickets  – who knew?

Big Catfish – But no Record

Johnny D. Anderson of Cleburne hooked the catfish of a lifetime when fishing in Lake Pat Cleburne on February 27.  According to the Cleburne TImes-Review Anderson landed a 4.5 foot blue catfish weighing in at 63.5 pounds.  The monstrous fish would have almost doubled the record for a blue cat taken at the lake.  Anderson did not want to keep the fish out of the water for the amount of time it would have taken to get it registered and released the fish after getting his wife to take some photos.

“I fought with that fish for a long time,” Anderson said. “It pulled the line to the end of the reel all the way out about two times. It was a lot of fun.” After a 45-minute struggle, he finally reeled the line all the way in and couldn’t believe what he caught.

Anderson, who normally catches 15- to 30-pound catfish, thought nobody would believe his fish tale so he called his wife to come take a look. “He called me and said, ‘You have to come see how big this fish is,’” Juanita Anderson said. “’Bring your camera with you.’”

According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the blue catfish is a large, smooth-skinned fish with a slate blue body and whisker-like barbels around its mouth. Adults usually grow to be less than two feet long. After weighing and taking photos of the fish, Johnny D. Anderson released it back into the lake.  “When they get over 10 or 12 pounds I release them,”  Anderson said. “I figure if they survive to get that big, in my opinion, they deserve to live.”

Your Smelly Valentine

According to the Stephenville Empire-Tribune we are entering prime skunk mating season.  The normally shy striped skunks are out looking for love now that it’s mating season. Biologists say many budding romances will end in the stinky tragedy of roadkill.

The striped skunk’s breeding season is usually February through March. They have a gestation period of 62-75 days. Most young skunks are born in May. On average, five young are born per litter. Young striped skunks’ eyes and ears open after about 30 days, at which time they are able to musk (spray). They are weaned at 8-10 weeks of age. Once the babies are able to leave their dens, they follow their mother about. Dispersal of family units takes place usually in autumn.

There are no firm estimates of the striped skunk population in Texas, but experts believe that it numbers in the millions.

Image from http://www.nhptv.org

Bats in the Bleachers

The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports that Texas A&M officials have taken measures to rid Kyle Field of an estimated 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats that have roosted in the structure for more than a decade.

“The 12th Man has had to share its Kyle Field home with an estimated 250,000 bats in recent years, but a Texas A&M University official and bat experts say it is unlikely fans will see much of the winged residents in the stadium by the time the $485 million renovation project is complete. The combination of thorough exclusion efforts made by Texas A&M to rid the 87-year-old stadium of Mexican free-tailed bats and the timing of the west side implosion will force a majority the state’s official flying mammal to roost elsewhere when they return to their renovated home from wintering in Mexico. The push to rid the stadium of bats could save the university thousands of dollars every year by not having to clean their droppings, but could increase human-bat contact in the area for a short time, one of the very things the exclusion effort was intended to reduce.”

For the full story see http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/experts-work-to-make-kyle-field-bat-free-after-renovation/article_0e40dc7c-1300-5f18-89b2-1c18af22435f.html