South Texas Wildlife Management

Habitat Management

The South Texas Plains is rich in species diversity. Native mixed brush plant communities support wildlife populations in tune with the carrying capacity of the land. Alterations to existing habitats impact entire ecosystems and the species they support. How these changes affect ecosystems--whether positively or negatively, is dependant on the techniques chosen and their application.

Aldo Leopold, the father of modern wildlife management published Game Management in 1933. In it he quotes " (wildlife) can be restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it- axe, cow, plow, fire, and gun." "........Management is their purposeful and continuing alignment."

Wildlife biologists and landowners alike now implement Leopold's habitat enhancement techniques or management tools to mimic some of the natural processes that occurred prior to European settlement in Texas. The key to managing natural resources is to use a holistic approach, where all techniques are applied to develop and maintain healthy ecosystems. Single species deserve less attention, while the system in which they thrive requires more. Knowing how the system functions and applying the technique is critical for its continued existence.

The border below illustrates Leopold's five basic tools (axe, cow, plow, fire, gun) used for managing wildlife communities in South Texas. Use of these tools in skillful combination allows enhancement or restoration of habitats and management of key species indigenous to the Brush Country.

Aldo Leopold's five tools of wildlife management - axe, cow, plow, fire, gun

Today, it is very important that land managers understand basic ecological principles of plant succession, plant growth, food chains, and water, mineral and soil nutritive cycles as they affect range, wildlife, and grazing management. In addition we should know and recognize the basic needs and preferences of the livestock and wildlife species for which we are trying to manage. It is equally important to manage for a high level of plant succession and quality wildlife habitat using the basic tools of grazing, rest, fire, hunting, animal impact, disturbance, and technology. This not only produces high quality habitat and animals, but also can lead to more stable conditions during stress periods such as droughts and winter. Contact your local biologist for assistance with habitat management. Click on the links below to learn more about habitat management.