Swine country: How feral pigs took over the U.S.

Swine country: How feral pigs took over the U.S.

For millions of years, as pigs snorted and snuffed their way across the planet, evolving and learning to dodge gray wolves and tigers and coyotes and alligators, they were almost assuredly safe from any potential threats from the sky. Then they arrived in Texas, where in addition to the rare predatory large mammal, a wild pig today might be forced to evade, for example, a cascade of 5.56-caliber bullets fired from a hundred-odd feet above by an AR‑15 semiautomatic rifle…

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Resilience along a river

Resilience along a river

It’s a crisp November after-noon and landowner Suzanne Davis is admiring native bald cypress seedlings while cutting back invasive Brazilian verbena along her stretch of the Blanco River. Davis and her husband, Edward, live in Wimberley, where, four years ago, the Blanco River rose more than 20 feet in an hour — over 40 feet at its peak — causing extensive devastation to property and life. “The destruction all around was incomprehensible,” she said. While the couple had to start…

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Taking on wildlife disease

Taking on wildlife disease

  • February 12, 2020
  • News

The Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, a collaboration between the School of Veterinary Medicine and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, will leverage Penn Vet’s expertise to address wildlife health problems. When wildlife biologist Matthew Schnupp began his career, the emphasis was on conserving habitat. “The paradigm of wildlife management for the last 20 years has been habitat management,” he says, aiming to conserve the land and ecosystems animals require to thrive. And while protecting habitat in the face of an expanding human…

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Texas Can’t Quit the Aoudad

Texas Can’t Quit the Aoudad

Allen Smith decided long ago what to do about the aoudads that wander onto his family’s land. “The first four I saw, I shot,” he tells me. From 5,000 feet up, in Smith’s Cessna Skymaster, the choices other Texans have made for their land roll out below—the network of oil and gas wells, the reflective surfaces of solar farms, the sleepaway camps, rodeo arenas, and dried-up, gutter-like creek beds. Smith’s family acreage, once dedicated to cattle, is now a refuge…

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NRI publishes Status Update and Trends of Texas Working Lands 1997-2017

The new Texas Land Trends report Status Update and Trends of Texas Working Lands 1997–2017, produced by NRI, has now been published. Land-trends reports have informed private and public landowners and decision-makers for more than two decades. “With this report, we are able to examine new patterns and identify trends following the release of the Census of Agriculture datasets by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service,” said Roel Lopez, Ph.D., director of the NRI. This most recent…

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Fireflies have a mating problem: The lights are always on

Fireflies have a mating problem: The lights are always on

These are tough times for fireflies. Like a lot of other insects, they face increasing threats from habitat loss, pesticides and pollution. But they also have a problem that’s unique to luminous bugs: It’s getting harder for them to reproduce because light pollution is outshining their mating signals. Fireflies, it turns out, use their special glowing powers in courtship: Males light up to signal availability and females respond with patterned flashes to show that they’re in the mood. But bright…

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TPW Commission Approves Rule Changes to Assist with Growth of Managed Lands Deer Program

TPW Commission Approves Rule Changes to Assist with Growth of Managed Lands Deer Program

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved changes to the Managed Lands Deer Program (MLDP), which provides landowners and land managers with additional flexibility to manage deer populations, improve habitats, and provide greater hunting opportunities under the guidance of department biologists. The approved changes include clarifying existing program provisions and establishing fees for participation in the growing program. “In the last 20 years the MLDP has grown from 800 tracts of land on 3 million acres to more than…

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Comal workshop to provide landowners with information on conservation programs that create a family land legacy

Comal workshop to provide landowners with information on conservation programs that create a family land legacy

On Friday, February 21, the Comal County Conservation Alliance and partners will host a landowner workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Anhalt Dance Hall, 2390 Anhalt Road, Spring Branch, TX 78070. The one-day workshop will highlight conservation easements and how they can help provide a family land legacy, the role of land trust organizations, wildlife and open space valuation, financial tools/resources available, and a panel discussion with landowners. Many landowners are concerned about conserving those special natural…

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Regional impacts of free-range axis deer

Regional impacts of free-range axis deer

In September, Gillespie County AgriLife Extension and the Hill Country Alliance launched the Axis Deer Control Project, with a goal to raise awareness about the impacts of free-ranging Axis deer, support research that will improve management, and recognize land stewards for their efforts to control this exotic deer. Axis deer are an exotic species that were introduced from India to the Texas Hill Country in the 1930s. Since their introduction, Axis deer have proliferated, adversely impacting agricultural production, native wildlife,…

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New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

New Texas conservation area boasts hundreds of springs

The Nature Conservancy has acquired a conservation easement on 1,640 acres owned by landowner Gary Krause, preserving its unique natural features for future generations, according to a news release. The easement was funded in part by the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program, overseen by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Krause donated part of the value of the easement as a…

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