In 1967, there were fewer than 500 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. The national bird was in danger of disappearing from much of the United States. Though the eagles were never in danger of extinction—the vast majority, over 100,000, were in Alaska and Canada—Americans understandably wanted to protect a national symbol. Continue reading
Why did the alligator cross the road? Perhaps he was looking for a mate, according to a state wildlife biologist.
An 8-foot alligator lying on a Bell County farm-to-market road got the attention of a traveler early Thursday morning. “A passerby called it in as an animal in the road,” Bell County Sheriff Lt. David Wical said.
When deputies responded to the intersection of FM 436 and FM 1123 about 2:20 a.m. they found a large alligator estimated to be between 8 and 8½ feet long and weighing about 200 pounds next to the road. After contacting the local Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office, the deputies were advised to try to capture the animal, but if it became vicious to destroy it.
“It was a safety issue,” said Jimmy Lewing, sheriff’s office spokesman, said about the gator that was about a mile west of the Lampasas River. “When they got there it was right off the roadway.”
Two Bell County deputies and two Salado officers worked together to get a rope around the alligator to capture it but failed after numerous attempts. The on-scene supervisor then made a decision to shoot the alligator because of officer and public safety, according to Wical.
Since the alligator was on a state-maintained highway, Texas Department of Transportation maintenance employees were called to remove the animal. “We picked it up, hauled it away and buried it,” Ken Roberts, TxDOT spokesman, said. “We pick up deer, cows, horses and dogs, and that’s what we do.”
An alligator, Roberts admitted, is unusual for them to remove. “It’s probably the strangest thing we’ve picked up in a long time,” he said. The maintenance employees weren’t surprised by the find, Roberts said. “They said there’s gators in the streams and rivers,” he said.
Derrick Wolter, a Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist, concurred. He said there have been reports of alligators in Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir. “I don’t know if they’re illegal pets that someone let loose or naturally occurring,” he said. He estimated the alligator to be between 10 and 12 years old because of its size.
Between 250,000 and 300,000 wild alligators live in Texas, most of those east of Interstate 45, Wolter said. For alligators, May is the breeding season, which could still be occurring in early June.
“My guess is it was a male alligator looking around,” he said.
Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) include both feral (domestic animals that have escaped captivity) hogs and what people commonly refer to as “wild boar,” a native to Eurasia but introduced to North America to interbreed with feral hogs. Feral hogs include first-generation escapees as well as all subsequent production, which comprises the overwhelming bulk of the U.S. free-ranging hog population. Together, they can all be lumped into the category of “feral hogs.” Like domestic hogs, feral hogs may be any color. Their size and conformation depend on the breed, degree of hybridization with wild boar, and level of nutrition during their growing period. More often that not, feral hogs tend to beÂ brown, black, or a variation or combinationÂ of both. Continue reading
Grizzly (brown) bears must be respected first and foremost. They have great strength and agility, and will defend themselves, their young, and their territories if they feel threatened.Â Grizzly bears, like any wildl animal,Â are unpredictable and can inflict serious injury.Â Remember, neverÂ feed or approach a bear. Continue reading
Grizzly (brown)Â bear habitat is considerably varied. Brown bears may occupy areas of 100 to 150 square miles and range from desert and prairieÂ to forest and alpine extremes. The areas must provide enough food during the 5 to 7 months in which they feed to meet their protein, energy, and other nutritional requirements for reproduction, breeding, and denning.Â Grizzly bearsÂ often travel long distances to reach seasonally abundant food sources such as salmon streams, burned areas with large berry crops, and lush lowlands. Continue reading
Feral hogs can inhabit a variety of habitats, fromÂ coastal marshes to rough-country mountain ranges. These wild hogsÂ prefer cover of dense brush or marsh vegetation, but will venture out into open fields under the cover of darkness. Hogs are generally restricted to areas below snowline and above freezing temperatures during the winter. Continue reading
The brown bears of the world include numerous subspecies in Asia, Europe, and North America. Even the polar bear, taxonomically, may be a white phase of the brown bear. Support for this concept is provided by new electrophoresic studies and the fact that offspring of brown/polar bear crosses are fertile. The interior grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis) is generally smaller than the coastal (Ursus arctos gyas) or island (Ursus arctos middendorffi) subspecies of North American brown bear, and it has the classic â€œgrizzledâ€ hair tips. Continue reading