Wildlife

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

When it comes to invasive wild pigs, Texas is No. 1.

There are at least 2 million feral hogs roaming the state – about half the animal's national population. Authorities say the hogs cause hundreds of millions of dollars a year in damage to property and agriculture. But, despite those numbers, hogs are usually thought to be confined to rural parts of Texas.

Di Qiu/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

Ever heard of bartonella henselae? It’s the bacteria behind an illness you’re probably more familiar with – cat scratch fever. What about this one: bovine spongiform encephalopathy? You may know it better as mad cow disease. As you can see, nonscientific names for certain afflictions tend to stick. But sometimes, their meanings may get lost in translation.

anne1g2i3/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

There have been sightings and interactions recently with "aggressive" coyotes in Texas cities – something wildlife experts say is rare.

Something even rarer is research on how these wild dogs are adapting to urban growth. With human-coyote interactions on the upswing in Austin, a group of researchers at Huston-Tillotson University are looking for, among other things, clues as to how humans and coyotes might better coexist.

Pierson Hill

From Texas Standard:

You may think that the time of mythic beasts has passed – that perhaps the information age has snuffed out tales of mysterious creatures. But there are still some animals out there that have yet to be discovered. At least one of these, a rather big one, has been found.

Greg Goebel/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Many of the caimans, iguanas and tigers that enter Texas come from Latin America.

Earlier this week, border patrol agents recovered a duffel bag dropped by smugglers crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas. But the contraband inside wasn’t drugs. It was a bengal tiger cub. It’s far from an isolated incident. Illegal wildlife trafficking is big business in Texas. Some estimates say Texas’ tiger population is second only to that of India.

NOAA/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

From Texas Standard.

A national marine sanctuary located about a hundred miles off the coast of Galveston is looking to expand its protection of coral reef habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is currently made up of three coral reef systems – deemed some of the healthiest during a time when many reefs around the world have been seriously damaged or are under threat.

PD Photo/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

From Texas Standard.

For most Texans, crayfish – or crawfish – come in two varieties: boiled and fried. Even in a living state, most of us probably couldn’t name too many species of mudbugs. The marbled crayfish looks like any other type, but it has one unique ability that sets it apart. The marbled crayfish can clone itself.

Padre Island National Seashore

From Texas Standard.

Scientists, researchers, and volunteers along the Gulf Coast have been working at a fever pitch to save hundreds of sea turtles that have washed up on Texas coastal shores – alive but stunned by the cold. It’s not an unusual phenomenon, but researchers say this year has seen a record-breaking number of turtles.

Dr. Donna Shaver, the Chief of the Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Division at Padre Island National Seashore, says they’ve found 2,980 turtles so far.

Jennifer Pollack

From Texas Standard:

While many diners delight in slurping the slimy meat out of an oyster, less attention goes to the oyster shell. Typically, they’re thrown away and end up in landfills.

Courtesy Renee Lockett

From Texas StandardJason Fry is a filmmaker from Brownsville. We met at a diner there. He told me what happened to him the afternoon of Dec. 8 as he drove down Highway 48, from Brownsville to Port Isabel.

“It was low visibility, and all of a sudden a pelican dropped out of the sky right in front of my truck,” he said.

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

When you think about West Texas you usually don’t think about aquatic life. But that’s exactly where some researchers have discovered a new kind of fish – or, really, rediscovered.


UT Austin

A team of scientists at UT Austin has brought us closer to understanding how some animals turn almost invisible in certain lights by studying fish deep in the ocean.


Terrence Henry/KUT

Austin’s well-known as the Live Music Capital of the World, but it’s also becoming known as a place that’s running out of room. There's one neighborhood in town where old-time residents are probably going to be moved out in order to make way for new development. And it’s ruffling some feathers.

We're talking, of course, about monk parakeets. In particular, the two hundred of them that live at the University of Texas at Austin Whitaker Intramural Fields, in Central Austin on Guadalupe. Head there at dusk, and you'll see not just soccer or lacrosse scrimmages, but you'll see hundreds, if not thousands, of birds. 

And the most colorful and charismatic of them are the monk parakeets. But soon they're likely going to have to move out of their longtime home. 

flickr.com/TooFarNorth

The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services department is warning drivers to be on high alert for deer in the road during November and December.

These two months are what’s known as the “rut,” or deer mating season. During this time, deer can be inattentive to their surroundings and are more likely to dart out into the road and into the path of an oncoming car.

According to data released by the City of Austin and APD, there were 50 deer-involved collisions in 2011.  There have been 11 so far this year. Nationwide, research has found that approximately 200 people a year in the United States die in deer-related car accidents. Eighteen percent of all accidents involving deer occur during November. December is the third most common month for accidents involving deer.

The unfolding calamity that is the Texas drought has thrown nature out of balance. Many of the wild things that live in this state are suffering.

Sections of major rivers — like the Brazos, the Guadalupe, the Blanco, Llano and Pedernales — have dried up. In many places, there aren't even mud holes anymore.

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The number of venomous bites and stings has increased since last year as the drought sends snakes and other wild animals searching for food and water.

Kelly Conrad Bender, an urban wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, came to the University Medical Center Brakenridge to explain the changes in wildlife.

“Wildlife, these individual animals, has not experienced this kind of drought, but their species has. They are the result of thousands of years of adaptation to our climate and these droughts do happen occasionally, maybe once every 50 to 100 years. So the species, given appropriate habitat and given a good balanced stable habitat, they will survive and they’ll come out stronger,” Bender said.