Whether you are catching largemouth bass on Lake Granbury, a catfish on Lake Limestone or watching a Great Egret flying over Possum Kingdom Lake, wildlife is an integral part of the Brazos River basin. With National Wildlife Day coming up on Sept. 4, learning what type of species reside in our basin and what to do if you encounter them will help you enjoy our native wildlife and protect the wildlife that you see.
Founded in 2005, National Wildlife Day was created to appreciate the wildlife, acknowledge the need for biodiversity and to bring awareness of endangered species nationally. Biodiversity is an important aspect of both animal and water conservation, as biodiversity improves water quality and helps ecosystems withstand the side effects of pollution. The Brazos River basin itself is comprised of different fish and wildlife species that help maintain the health of the basin’s ecosystems. The upper region of the Brazos River basin is temperate, transitioning to a more tropical environment near the coast. As such, the Brazos River is home to a diverse population of wildlife.
Ecosystems, including those within the Brazos River basin, are maintained by their plants and wildlife that inhabit it. Without wildlife, food supplies can be threatened, and clean air or water can be affected. The Brazos River Authority’s Environmental Services Department regularly monitors different fish and wildlife species as a way of tracking the health of the Brazos River basin ecosystem.
So, what type of animals reside throughout the Brazos River basin? There are mammals, fish species, birds and reptiles that utilize the river’s diverse habitats and resources. There are even some endangered and threatened species within the basin, including the Houston toad, the Brazos River snake, the Georgetown salamander and the golden-cheeked warbler.
The water supplied by the river is utilized by whitetail deer, rabbits, opossums and prairie dogs. The basin also contains many fish species, such as minnows, shiners, channel catfish, white crappie, largemouth bass and more.
The watershed is home to many bird species. Bald eagles have been known to build nests at Lake Limestone and Lake Waco, among other places. Then there is the endangered golden-cheeked warbler, which has been spotted near the hike and bike trails and other locations around Possum Kingdom Lake.
As you explore the Brazos River basin, you may run into wildlife both on the water or on the trails. Most animals naturally avoid humans, though some, including deer, have become used to humans and the food they provide. But, as the term “wildlife” implies, animals are not domesticated and could cause serious harm. The Brazos basin is home to numerous venomous snakes. If you come across a rattlesnake, keep your distance and stay back as they can strike half their length.
The National Parks Conservation Associations provides these additional tips to help protect wildlife while keeping yourself safe:
• Don’t honk at wildlife if you spot an animal from your car.
• Be careful not to damage any animal habitats as you hike.
• Want to take pictures? Use a zoom lens and give animals plenty of space.
• If you use DEET products to protect yourself against mosquitos, avoid swimming and crossing rivers. Fish and amphibians can be negatively affected by DEET.
• Never approach, feed or touch wildlife.
Together, we can protect the wildlife of the Brazos River basin and help maintain their habitats. For more information about wildlife in Texas, click here.