The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that a mountain lion was captured in a Laredo subdivision on February 25. The secretive cats are rarely seen in the wild – much less observed in urban areas. The lion was tranquilized after being located in the Santa Rita subdivision. The cat has been turned over to the State Game Warden who will assess its condition and likely release it back into the wild in a more remote location.
Photo from the Laredo PD’s facebook page. Nice of them to cover the lion’s head to protect its privacy rights.
From the Annals of the Vandals – In 1889, H.S. Barber carved his name in Devil’s Sinkhole near Rocksprings. The 350 foot deep sinkhole was first encountered by settlers years before, but Barber was the first known person to explore the cave. The vertical cavern is the largest known single-chamber cavern in Texas. The cave opening is a shaft approximately 50 feet wide with a 140 foot vertical drop into the cavern. The shaft widens to a diameter of over 320 feet and reaches a total depth of over 350 feet. The cave is home to more than three million Mexican free-tail bats. It is now part of the Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area and can be visited by making advanced reservations.
And no Red, isn’t talking about the Trump Administration. He is looking at photos of a mysterious sea creature that washed up on the Texas coast near Texas City in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Preeti Desai of the National Audubon Society spotted the creature while assessing damage from the storm with other conservationists. She posted pictures on Twitter asking biologists to clear up the mystery.
The most likely identification appears to be that the animal was a fangtooth snake-eel, also known as the tusky eel, which is native to the Gulf of Mexico. The Daily Mail has the full story.
Terry Wayne Washington of Austin has been charged with cruelty to a non-livestock animal and unauthorized taking of wildlife after beating a snapping turtle to death with a claw hammer. Washington was fishing with a friend in Austin’s Lady Bird Lake when he snagged the 40 pound reptile. Washington was apparently annoyed that the turtle had been chasing away fish and decided to dispatch it with the tool at hand. According to witnesses, Washington struck the snapper at least ten times finally crushing its skull. Washinton would like have escaped trouble but for Geoffrey Frank who was jogging on the hike and bike trail around the lake and caught the last few blows on his cell phone.
After turning himself in, Washington claimed self-defense and that he was protecting himself from the raging reptile – claims which are belied by the video evidence. Now Red has seen a few snappers in his time and you don’t want to mess with them. But if you can’t out run a speeding turtle, then maybe you should consider staying at home.
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.
From the Annals of the Wilds – In 1984, Pres. Ronald Reagan signed the Texas Wilderness Act of 1984 establishing five new wilderness areas in East Texas. The five were the Big Slough Wilderness Area, Indian Mounds Wilderness Area, Little Lake Creek Wilderness Area, Turkey Hill Wilderness Area and Upland Island Wilderness Area. These areas were preserved from logging and development and now serve as islands of wilderness in Texas’ National Forests. In 1979, the Secretary of Agriculture had recommended the establishment of three wilderness areas totaling 10,712 acres. Texas congressman John Bryant sponsored legislation that would have set up ten wilderness areas in Texas covering 65,000 acres, but the bill went nowhere until citizen support expanded in the district of Congressman Charles Wilson, where three of the wildernesses lie. Wilson agreed to a compromise of five wilderness areas totaling 34,700 acres. That compromise was made possible by the willingness of lumber giant Temple-Eastex to trade some of its land inside Upland Island and Indian Mounds for Forest Service land outside.
Imagine a Republican President today signing a bill that creates wilderness areas.