Record drought is taking its toll in Texas on everything from wildlife to water bills and that has many people seeking new ways of coping with nature. In an effort to help, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) this week converted its main water resource website to feature an online Drought Survival Kit.
Texas is full of wildlife from javelinas to turkeys to prairie dogs.
The Help Wildlife section explains how Texas critters handle drought and advises when and whether to intervene with Mother Nature. For example, it tells how to help birds and butterflies with native plants, and why people should never feed wildlife such as raccoons, deer, and opossums.
“When wild animals begin associating humans with food, they don’t become less wild; they just lose their inherent fear of humans,” according to Walt Dabney, Texas State Parks director. “Thus, with animals and humans in close proximity, increased chances of wildlife biting, charging, goring, or kicking visitors becomes a real possibility. Having wild animals living in an unnatural environment where they are being fed is not what we want.”
Provide water for birds, but make sure it’s no more than three inches deep. Keep your water free of algae and bacteria by changing it regularly and cleaning the container.
Hundreds of species of birds travel through Texas during the fall and spring migration. Learn more about these birds and where you can spot them.
Learn how to recognize venomous snakes. You may have noticed more snakes out in the wild as they search for water. Generally they’ll leave you alone if you don’t bother them, and remember that more people are killed by lightning strikes in Texas than snake bites.
Turtles have polarized vision that allows them to locate water bodies by the polarized reflection of light bouncing off of the surface of water and reflected light “beaming” into the sky. When a pond or creek dries up, they look for the “beams” and head to another water body.
Save Your Yard
The Save Your Yard web section recognizes that trying to keep St. Augustine grass and other non-native “water hogs” alive during the drought can be expensive and frustrating. It suggests how, as weather conditions improve, it’s time to think about replacing drought-stricken yards with native “Wildscapes” that are better suited for surviving Texas weather. These are colorful, require little water or care, and attract birds, butterflies, and other native wildlife. Fall is usually the best time to plant but consult with your local nursery on what makes sense to plant during a drought.
Cut Your Water Bill
The Cut Your Water Bill section covers a few simple ways to save water and money, and links to more information on the Texas Water Development Board’s Water IQ website.
TPWD’s Drought Survival Kit also links to several other useful resources:
- Information on current burn bans, wildfires, and more from the Texas Forest Service
- Current stream flow conditions from the U.S. Geological Survey
- Current reservoir levels from the Texas Water Development Board
The survival kit main page also links to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine water resource special issues from the past 10 years. And, it showcases video documentaries TPWD has produced in partnership with Texas PBS stations.
Drought Survival Kit
Once in a lifetime, if one is lucky, one so emerges with sunshine and air and running water that whole eons might pass in a single afternoon without notice.