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Texas Wildlife Alliance Spring Newsletter

Updated: Mar 8


Friends,


Spring is just around the corner. Soon, bluebonnets will be blooming, frogs will be calling, and birds singing!


Recently, there's been some good news for Texas wildlife. Texas Parks and Wildlife reports the Whooping Crane population in Texas is remaining stable with an estimated 536 cranes—the sixth year in a row the number has been above the 500 mark! This is such hopeful news as there were only about 50 cranes in existence fifty years ago.


Also, read in the newsletter below about the Plateau Spot-tailed Earless Lizard, a Texas species that had been considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Recent studies uncovered multiple robust populations of the reptile throughout it's historical range on the Edwards Plateau, revealing a healthier population than originally thought.


When biologists have the resources to be able to study "data deficient" species—of which their are many—they sometimes find populations are stable and doing okay. Conservationists can then turn their time and attention to those species of plants and animals that are struggling the most. 


This is one of the numerous reasons we need to pass the Recovering America's Wildlife Act—and why we say this legislation is good for wildlife, good for business, and good for Texans. It would provide the reliable, sufficient funding needed to fill in knowledge gaps much earlier in the process. We can then more efficiently and effectively focus conservation attention on species that need our help now.


Most importantly, Recovering America's Wildlife Act would also fund the desperately needed on-the-ground conservation action—such as habitat restoration—at the significant scales needed to help declining species actually recover. This is why conservationists, businesses, and wildlife enthusiasts across the country will continue the good work to pass this legislation as long as it takes.


The good news is the Recovering America's Wildlife Act just gained two more bipartisan cosponsors in the U.S. Senate. You can help by contacting our U.S. Senators from Texas and ask them to support S.1149. Tell them it's good for wildlife, good for business, and good for Texans!


Thanks for taking action for Texas wildlife!


 



What is a Species of Greatest Conservation Need?


Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) are the focus of the Texas State Wildlife Action Plan. State Wildlife Action Plans are congressionally-mandated road maps to help guide at-risk biodiversity conservation efforts.


Texas hosts well over a thousand species that are designated as SGCNs, including species that are also state or federally protected due to risk of extinction. Native animals or plants designated as a SGCN are generally those that are declining, or rare and in need of attention to recover, or to prevent the need to list under state or federal regulation. Sometimes SGCN's might be "data deficient" meaning that biologists may be concerned about the population, but more research is needed. You can read more about SGCN's HERE.



SGCN Spotlight —Shell-ebrate the Texas Tortoise!


The Texas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri) is the smallest of our tortoise species in North America. Found throughout southern Texas, their preferred habitat is dry scrubs & grasslands with succulent plants which make up the majority of their diet. They especially like to dine on the fruit of the common prickly pear.  The tortoise's range has been shrinking due to habitat loss and fragmentation. They also fall victim to road mortality and collection. It's believed that Texas Tortoises can live as long as 60 years! Because of their unique life history and low reproductive rate, adult tortoises are critical to the survival of the species. Due to declines, they are a protected, threatened species in Texas. 


If Recovering America's Wildlife Act were to pass we could protect and restore more habitat throughout the range of the Texas Tortoise with voluntary arrangements with private landowners and land trusts. These conservation activities would not only help to protect the Texas Tortoise, but also ocelots, at-risk birds, rare plants, and other reptiles that call the south Texas scrublands home.


Texas Wildlife News




Plateau Spot-tailed Earless Lizard Will Not Be Listed Under Endangered Species Act


USFWS reports recent studies uncovered multiple robust populations of the reptile throughout it's historical range on the Edwards Plateau. “This outcome is a direct result of the dedicated efforts of researchers and conservation partners who have worked tirelessly to gather crucial data on this species."  Read more... 


Photo: TPWD


 

The Number of Monarch Butterflies at their Mexico Wintering Grounds Has Plummeted this Year


"The number of monarch butterflies at their wintering areas in Mexico dropped by 59% this year to the second lowest level since record keeping began, experts said, blaming heat, drought and loss of habitat." Read more from the Associated Press...


 


Whooping Crane Population Staying Above 500


"The survey from winter 2021-2022 estimated 543 whooping cranes, indicating the population has remained stable over the last two years." When the Whooping Crane was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1967, there were only 50 cranes left in the wild. Learn more in Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.


 


Attwater's Prairie Chicken Live Cam


Have you ever seen an endangered Attwater's Prairie Chicken boom? Check out this LIVE CAM from the Friends of Attwater's Prairie Chicken Refuge. If you're lucky, you might just see a male chicken strutting his stuff. And if you'd like the chance to potentially see a prairie chicken in person, attend the annual refuge festival—this year will be April 6-7th.


Photo: Rachel Rommel-Crump

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