The Texas Comptroller’s Natural Resources program has contracted with the University of Houston – Clear Lake (UHCL) to conduct range-wide surveys in East Texas for the western chicken turtle. The partnership will inform an upcoming Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decision for the species and develop information that local resource managers can use to sustain economic development while conserving natural resources.
The historic range of the western chicken turtle includes wetlands across East Texas, a region that supports numerous industries important to the Texas economy. Biologists believe the species may be affected by habitat loss and vehicular traffic. Despite the listing decision planned for 2024, the current status of the species and its habitat are not well understood.
“This project will address important data gaps and continue the efforts of the Natural Resources program to identify science-based solutions for conservation challenges,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. “It’s crucial to gather accurate science to inform ESA decisions that could affect economic growth.”
UHCL will study the western chicken turtle across its historic range in Texas, determining the most successful methods for surveying its population and studying the characteristics of its habitat. Data gathered from the study will provide valuable insight into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s evaluation of the species, as well as the development of effective conservation and monitoring strategies.
The Comptroller’s office works to encourage stakeholder involvement in species conservation and the development of science-based solutions that balance economic activity with environmental protection. Since 2009, the Comptroller’s office has administered state legislative appropriations to Texas public universities to conduct scientific research on imperiled, threatened and endangered species.
For project announcements, including research updates and public meetings, visit the Comptroller’s Natural Resources Program website.
See the full press release from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts here.