“Drought conditions are approaching 2011 levels.”
Those words shook me to the core.
Yesterday I exchanged texts with a private biologist in Texas who owns land in the Hill Country and surveys everywhere from East Texas to remote desert in the Trans Pecos.
What’s happening in my home state is bad, but it’s even worse in other places.
The following is from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Central Washington, Idaho, and northwest Montana also saw increases in drought extent or severity as short-term dryness continues to build upon long-term moisture deficits extending back to last year. Many parts of southern Idaho, and the rest of the West, have set records for the driest 3-month period (January to March) going back 100 years or more. Meanwhile near record warmth increased evaporative demand from plants and soils.
Farther south, extreme drought expanded in parts of California, Nevada, and New Mexico while moderate and severe drought expanded across Arizona. In California, Cooperative Extension reports impacts to agriculture including reduced forage, livestock stress, decreased water allocation, and the selling livestock earlier than normal. Data such as reduced stream flows and declines in satellite-based vegetation health and soil moisture indicators confirm these reports.
This is already having a big impact on wildlife. As early as last summer, wildlife officials in Nevada in conjunction with partners like The Wild Sheep Foundation were dropping water on manmade guzzlers (water tanks) to supplement water for desert bighorns and other wildlife.
There are concerns across much of Texas for wild turkey and quail production in much of the state.
This will end up being the United States biggest wildlife story of 2022 and we will do our best to keep you up to date.
Helping Asian Elephants
Since 2007 I have been writing about the need to get more attention to Asian elephants and their dire conservation needs.
There are literally 10 times as many African elephants yet they seem to get the bulk of attention.
I was excited to learn of the Center of Asian Elephant Conservation at the St. Louis Zoo.
Check out what they’re doing.
The Center for Asian Elephant Conservation’s partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and others will significantly enhance our scientific understanding of rewilding elephants. Through a ground-breaking research project based in Myanmar, a framework will be developed for elephant release that incorporates a diversity of scientific approaches at all decision stages. To test this framework, approximately 30-50 elephants will be released into the wild in the near future to gain a deeper understanding of which animals are most likely to succeed in the wild and which management choices can ensure success. This project will be a tool for environmental managers to use when designing future elephant reintroduction programs across Asian elephant range countries.
Between 2005 and 2021, they contributed more than $420,000 to the International Elephant Foundation to support Asian elephant conservation in Asia and has supported projects in Sumatra, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India.
The Zoo is also eading the fight against Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV), a viral infection that affects elephants in the wild and in zoos, by contributing to prognosis and treatment protocols that have saved elephants. In 2021, the Zoo established its own EEHV lab to further our commitment to fighting this disease.
An Interview With The Gale Force Twins
Growing up in South Florida, Emily and Amanda Gale, The Gale Force Twins, discovered their love and passion for the water.
Last weekend I had a chance to hang out with them and interview them for the Higher Calling Wildlife podcast at the Hunt-Fish Podcast Summit.
“At an early age, we started fishing off the docks of Islamorda wanting nothing more than to go deep sea fishing. We attended the University of Miami, earning degrees in Microbiology and Immunology while competing on the track and field team as pole vaulters. The two of us spent our summer breaks and long weekends working on a busy fishing charter boat out of Key West,” they said.
“It was there that we finished our sea time, honed in on our skills and earned our USCG 50 Ton Captains Licenses. With that we started our own business, Gale Force Twins LLC.”
Upon graduating, the girils left the academic world to pursue careers in the sportfishing industry.
“After a few years of running our own charter business. We began vlogging our adventures as female captains on the water. The response was exponentailly positive. We now film, edit and produce educational yet entertaining videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Although each video is unique they all share the same goal: to Educate, Explain and Entertain. We take pride in keeping our pages family friendly while we take our viewers with us to experience the variety of fishing opportunities that the world has to offer.”
The folks at Spring Creek Outdoors, LLC were kind enough to ask if I wanted to release one of the Rio Grande turkeys I had been photographing them release on the Rafter K Ranch. It was cool being on this side of a release. They are working on a TPWD-permitted turkey restoration project.
I never take moments like this for granted and thank God for them in a very literal sense.
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