The golden eagle is found across North America and is the largest bird of prey found in the United States. Golden eagles occur in the greatest numbers from Alaska southward throughout the mountain and prairie habitat of the West and into Mexico. They occur in lower numbers to the east across Canada, the Great Lakes states, and the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. Golden eagles have caused livestock losses and there have well-been documented cases of golden eagles taking mule deer and pronghorn antelope fawns.
Golden eagle prey consists primarily of small mammals such as prairie dogs, rabbits and ground squirrels, but they will consume birds and reptiles when they can catch them. Large mammals are fair game too. Golden eagles sometimes attack large mammals. Mule deer and pronghorn of all ages have been observed being attacked or killed by eagles. In fact, documented kills of bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and foxes being killed exist. They also eat carrion. Continue reading
They key to maintaining healthy plant and animal populations is active management. Habitat enhancement activities on lands promote healthy ecosystems. One way to conserve and preserver valuable wild lands is through conservation easements. Currently, the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is accepting applications for funding on a continuous basis. NRCS State Conservationist Salvador Salinas noted that the 2008 Farm Bill provided for a continuous signup to allow eligible entities more opportunities to sign up eligible parcels.
Eligible entities must submit applications on or before March 1, 2012, to receive consideration for conservation easement funding in fiscal year 2012. Only eligible entities may submit applications of eligible farm and ranch land. Eligible entities are State, Tribal, or local governments and non-government organizations that meet specific requirements. The entities must have an established farm and ranch land protection program, have the authority to hold and manage conservation easements; have the capacity to acquire, manage, and enforce the easements; and the funds to match the Federal contribution. Continue reading
Granger Lake is well known by anglers looking for catfish and crappie, and duck and deer hunters know the Granger Wildlife Management Area offers great hunting, but the place has definitely gone to the birds as of late! Yes, there are whooping cranes at Granger Lake. At least six of these endangered birds have taken up residence at the lake since early December 2011. These birds normally make the 2,500 mile trek from northwest Canada to winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, but not this year.
The six whooping cranes at Granger Lake are actually two families of cranes. The fact that these birds are hanging out around the lake this year are stirring up the curiosity of bird watchers across the state. About two months ago, reports started coming in to Granger Lake Manager, James Chambers, that a family of three whooping cranes, two adults and a juvenille, had been spotted nearby. Shortly after the initial whooping crane reports, another family of cranes found out about Granger Lake.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has a particular interest in the birds because they typically winter near Aransas, Texas. Why are these birds here? Biologist believe these birds have found what they are looking for, food. Whooping cranes eat clams, insects and even waste grain found in agricultural fields. The drought of 2010 has left Granger Lake at very low levels, exposing plenty of clams for the whoopers. In addition, many corn fields were simply mowed-over last year, leaving plenty of corn for the birds. Continue reading