Our Wild Texas – June 2021

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The Future of Ocelots

Female ocelot closeup

Hidden away in the thorny brush of South Texas are the only 2 populations of ocelots left in the country. These nocturnal cats get their name from the Aztec "tlalocelot," which means "field tiger."

There are 50-80 ocelots in Texas, so when Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge got trail cam photos of 5 juveniles, it created hope for the future. Take a look at images of the young ocelots posted March 3, including a ridiculously cute kitten.  

One threat ocelots face is being hit by vehicles. So wildlife tunnels were built under highways to give them a safe way to cross. In 2020 a trail cam caught the first-ever ocelot using a wildlife tunnel – another exciting moment. 

Watch the video, Phantom Felines of the Rio Grande Valley, for history on the ocelot program in Texas. If you see an ocelot, report it immediately. The more we know about these endangered cats, the more can be done to ensure they have a future in Texas.

Alternatives to Spraying Yards for Mosquitos

black swallowtail butterfly on penta

Healthy amounts of rain in spring can mean unhealthy amounts of mosquitoes in summer. If you plan to spray your yard, beware: most lawn mosquito sprays are a general insecticide and kill all insects that come in contact with it – butterflies, bees, fireflies, dragonflies – and the run-off can kill fish. Instead of treating your yard with pesticide, ward off mosquitos using these tips:

  • Use personal insect repellent cream, spray or oil 
  • Dispose of all standing water, inside and out, or replace it weekly 
  • Block holes where mosquitos can enter your home

The CDC has more tips to prevent mosquito bites, including a list of approved personal insect repellents, as well as tips to prevent tick bites. Stay safe, but try not to kill beneficial insects in the process. 

Dragonflies in Your Backyard & Beyond

pink dragonfly on a stick overlooking a pond

Dragonflies are beautiful in flight or when still, they kill mosquitos, and they don't bite people. If you want more dragonflies in your life, create habitat for them, like a backyard pond.

Watch #TMNTuesdays' Dragonflies: Pond Patrol, to celebrate the dragonfly with Urban Biologist Sam Kieschnick.  

red neon skimmer dragonfly

Dragonfly watching is like birdwatching, with field guides and groups that search for them. It's a good outdoor hobby because they're visually stunning, easy to find and have unique behaviors.

To learn more about dragonflies and how to stalk them, read the magazine story, An Eye for the Dragonfly.

New monarch license plate, with link


Flower Garden Marine Sanctuary Expanded

School of blue fusilier fish at Flower Gardens, video link

Fourteen years of partner groups and the public working together has paid off – the Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary off the Texas/Louisiana coast has been expanded from 3 coral reefs to 17. Watch the video, Celebrating the Expansion, for more details.

The expansion recognizes existing oil and gas platforms and works around them, leaving room for them to be removed or turned into artificial reefs when they're  decommissioned. Our Artificial Reef Program was created to give marine life shelter and people a place to fish and scuba dive. We create artificial reefs using oil rigs and ships past their prime, and by recycling materials. Watch the video, Artificial Reefs, the Kraken, for an exciting look at how we turned a ship into a reef. 

Supporting RAWA Supports Wildlife

Bald eagle on a tree, video link

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is now in Congress. If passed, this bipartisan legislation will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state and tribal wildlife action plans to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered, without increasing taxes.

RAWA will allow for more action that suppports at-risk species, giving them a better chance of recovery before they become endangered like the ocelot. RAWA could have a huge, positive impact on all Texas wildlife.  

Add your voice – contact your representative in Congress and tell them you expect their support of RAWA. For more information, see our press release, Bipartisan Bill to Help Declining Wildlife Introduced on Earth Day in Congress.

Celebrating Caretakers of Texas Land

landscape of restored habitat at San Pedro Ranch, video link

Without healthy habitat, wildlife will not survive, and that's a loss for us all. It takes effort by landowners to maintain that habitat, so the Lone Star Land Steward Awards were created 25 years ago to recognize landowners that restore and maintain wildlife habitat on their land.

Chosen from each of the ecoregions of Texas, this year's winners are: Brushy Creek Co-op, Moore Ranch, Chimney Creek Ranch, Shady W Ranch, 7 Oaks Ranch and Dunn O’Connor River Ranch. San Pedro Ranch took the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award. Take a look at the videos that explore each winner's journey.

A big "thank you" to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation for supporting the Lone Star Land Steward Awards, and also to the 2021 underwriters: Toyota, Shield Ranch, Winkler Ranch, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Trinity River Authority, Jimmie Ruth & Dick Evans, and Morgan O'Connor. 

If you know of any landowners that should be considered for a Lone Star Land Steward Award, please nominate them.

Thanks to these Lone Star Land Steward underwriters and partners:

Lone Star Land Steward sponsors

Toyota Tundra ad, link

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