So much of this blog lately has discussed the drought and its impact on us and our lives, but we shouldn't forget about the animals who are feeling the pinch as much if not more than we are. Ranchers are selling much of their livestock due to lack of hay and water, but the real victims are the animals attempting to continue their life in the wild. Last week, when I was in far west Texas, I had a face-to-face encounter with a fox in the middle of a residential street. Although I was thrilled to see him, I was also saddened knowing that he never would be there under normal conditions. I spoke with several people living on the outskirts of Marfa who have noticed more javelinas and other wild animals coming close to their houses looking for food or water.
David Wolfe, EDF Texas' wildlife director, has also observed a number of direct effects: “Nighthawks foraging through the day to find enough food, purple martin hatchlings near death due to dehydration…my wife, who is a wildlife rehabber, hydrates martin hatchlings and puts them back in the nest…most survived.” Many animals that are already living in stressed conditions because of human activities are now pushed to the brink. This is particularly true of endangered species.
In the Texas Hill Country, water flow in the Comal and San Marcos Springs have become so low that endangered fish, amphibians and other animals are at risk. To reduce loss, federal officials from the US Fish and Wildlife Service plan to capture and move endangered species in an effort to ensure their survival through this stressful period. The evacuations will begin if water levels in the springs drops by more than another 50 percent. Cindy Loeffler, a water resource expert with Texas Parks and Wildlife, explained that this drought is testing even the heartiest flora and fauna that can generally endure the difficult Texas weather.
As you go about your day hoping for rain, please remember those animals who are left to fend for themselves and do anything you can to help them out too. We need them.