The prominence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the media waxes as new cases are discovered and wanes as the public’s interest fades once the disease’s presence ceases to be novel. Chronic wasting disease is different from many other deer diseases in that its effects are initially subtle and take months to years to manifest in an animal. The effects of CWD on populations take even longer to become evident. In fact, CWD was first detected in free-ranging deer and elk in the early 1980s and only in the past 10 years have scientists been able to document effects of CWD on populations and even then, only in the areas of Colorado and Wyoming where CWD was first detected.
The Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch is a 4,720-acre ranch in Fisher County, Texas that lies about 10 miles west of Roby off of US Highway 180. Speeding past on the highway the encyclopedia of knowledge that’s been garnered from the gently rolling hills is not obvious. Ultimately, the ranch’s aim is providing land managers and other stakeholders, with timely, relevant technology and management schemes for enhancing quail populations in the Rolling Plains of Texas. In doing so, the ranch hopes to sustain the “quail dynasty” that has supported hunters, ranchers, local economies, hunters and the quail themselves.
Hunting the Northern Bobwhite Quail is popular in Texas, and it can provide additional income to ranches and rural communities. The problem is
that quail populations decrease during dry years and increase during periods of normal or above normal rainfall. Since rainfall patterns vary considerably in Texas, so do quail populations. A lot of time and money is allocated toward learning how to sustain bobwhite populations in a more stable manner and
progress has occurred.
Listing an animal or plant as “threatened” or “endangered” under federal law can impact the lives of landowners, ranchers, and farmers. Unlike states where much of the land is publicly owned, Texas is roughly 97 percent privately owned. For this reason, successful conservation efforts in Texas require private landowners and government agencies to work together.
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As far as Texas deer, the desert mule deer is the less common cousin of Texas’ most prominent deer—the whitetail. Because its range is found in the least populated regions of Texas, many aren’t as familiar with the deer who roams chiefly in the Texas Panhandle and the mountains and basins of the Trans-Pecos. It’s a cousin to the more manic whitetail, and that’s part of the biological problem. The mule deer as a species isn’t as adaptable as the whitetail, doesn’t breed as quickly or as often as a whitetail, has a narrow range of acceptable habitats and doesn’t feed or breed as aggressively as the whitetail and therefore is more easily extirpated.