Freeze kills Texas Antelopes

The record-setting freeze that hit Texas over the last week has devasted two species of well-established non-indegenous antelope species in several areas.

The nilgai antelope, a native of India and Pakistan has been free-ranging along the Lower Coast from around Baffin Bay to the Mexico line for more than 80 years.

These very large antelope are notoriously susceptible to extreme cold and we have received a report of more than a dozen dead nilgai found on one eight mile stretch of road with others standing around in very uncharacteristic fashion.

It’s hard to get in-depth reports at the moment with power outages, etc. especially since the majority of nilgai live on two of Texas’ largest private ranches, the King and Kenedy but there is historical precedence.

According to officials with the Texas Tech Natural Science Research Library, a past freeze put a huge hit on the species.

During the severe winter of 1972–1973, 1,400 of 3,300 nilgai (estimated population at the time) were killed by the weather in southern Texas. This die-off was exacerbated by previous brush clearing, which resulted in forage loss and increased competition with livestock and other wildlife.

The much smaller blackbuck antelope is a more widespread species and while there are free-ranging populations in the Edwards Plateau, most live behind game proof fences.

Also from India and Pakistan, they are not the most cold tolerant of animals and there are numerous photos floating around social media of large numbers of blackbuck as well as some axis deer dead on ranches.

The blackbuck antelope. (Public Domain Photo)

We will have more on the impact on these animals that have become an important part of the Texas outdoors economy and are highly valued for their meat (especially nilgai) and revered by sportsmen.

If you have any photos, videos or reports of dead wildlife in Texas email chester@chestermoore.com.

Chester Moore

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