· 2 Texas species were recently declared extinct.
· More than 1,300 species are at risk of disappearing from Texas, including the beloved ‘horny toad.’
· The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would bring the resources needed to save this species, along with other at-risk fish and wildlife.
· The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would also create thousands of jobs in Texas’ nature-based economy.
In September, two Texas species were declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Ivory-billed woodpecker and a small fish called the San Marcos gambusia are gone forever. Many more Texas species are at risk of disappearing, including a state icon: the Texas Horned Lizard—also known as the horny toad.
A coalition of zoos and wildlife scientists are working to help Texas horned lizards. Meanwhile, a landmark bipartisan proposal now moving through Congress, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, would bring the resources needed to save this species and hundreds like it.
Help for the Horny Toad
For more than 10 years, the Texas Horned Lizard Coalition—including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Christian University and zoos in Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere—has been studying how to restore Texas horned lizards to formerly occupied habitats. Reintroduction efforts have happened at TPWD’s Mason Mountain and Muse Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) where extensive habitat management and restoration have provided vital “new homes” for the lizard.
This August at Mason Mountain WMA, after years of captive-raised hatchling releases, TPWD biologists and graduate students discovered a breakthrough milestone. They found 18 hatchlings believed to be offspring of zoo-raised hatchlings released in 2019. To their knowledge, this marks the first time that captive-reared horned lizards have survived long enough to successfully reproduce in the wild.
The Fort Worth Zoo developed the breeding and husbandry protocols required to successfully breed and care for these animals in managed collections. These practices have since been implemented and modeled at several zoos around the state. The Fort Worth Zoo has the longest-running captive breeding effort in Texas and, in fact, the zoo hatched its 1,000th Texas horned lizard this summer.
The 1,000th Texas Horned Lizard hatched at the Fort Worth Zoo
How you can Help
Biologists remain optimistic that continued research and restoration work will ultimately lead to self-sustaining wild populations of Texas horned lizards. But they say the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would provide the funding needed to make this dream a reality. It would invest $50 million per year in Texas to help fish and wildlife and create thousands of jobs in our nature-based economy. Funding would come from existing revenues with no new taxes.
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