The Texas A&M University Key deer team was recently honored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Southeast Region as a 2016 Regional Recovery Champion.
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A first-in-the-nation conservation plan, crafted by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and wildlife agencies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, protects at-risk gopher tortoises while helping military bases to continue training and testing missions across the tortoise’s Southern turf.
After being eradicated from the United States for more than 30 years, New World screwworm flies reappeared in the lower Florida Keys this year. Screwworms have infested the endangered Florida Key deer population, which is spread across 11 islands. Approximately 130 deer, mostly males, have been killed by or euthanized due to the infestation, according to researchers.
While many people try to avoid snakes, a group of researchers are doing everything they can to find snakes, specifically the rare Louisiana pine snake.
The nonvenomous, 6-foot-long snake lives in gopher burrows, coming out only to go from one burrow to another or to mate. Its only habitat is the longleaf pine savannahs in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. But today, that habitat is almost gone, said Dr. Toby Hibbitts, a researcher at the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) and curator of amphibians and reptiles at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections at Texas A&M.
“With the loss of habitat, populations are crashing in Texas and Louisiana,” Hibbitts said.
The snake’s numbers have never been that abundant, Hibbitts said. In fact, the snake was undiscovered until the 1920s.
Based on her extensive avian research record, one might assume Dr. Ashley Long, Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) research scientist, has been fascinated with birds her whole life. However, Long’s interest in ecology and wildlife didn’t begin until she was in college.