South Texas Wildlife Management

Prescribed Burning (Fire)

prescribed burning in the brush country South Texas habitats evolved through fire. However, fires are not all alike. Prescribed fires are also known as controlled burns because they control some plants and encourage the growth of others. Historically, natural and man-caused fires occurred frequently. Biologists now use fire to manipulate vegetation for the benefit of wildlife. A prescribed burning program, in conjunction with grazing deferment and deer harvest management, is an effective tool for managing wildlife habitat. List below are some general benefits of prescribed burning.

There is an art and a science to using this powerful tool. Fires can be cool or hot. Depending upon weather conditions and management practices before and after the burn, various plants can be selected for or against. Cool fires seldom harm mature trees while hot fires can top-kill trees. A late winter/early spring (before green-up) burning schedule gives priority to ensure the most productive results for wildlife. Even with the best planning, however, windows of opportunity always depend on humidity, wind, and fuel moisture. Landowners/land managers are encouraged to learn how to use prescribed fire by first assisting on a planned controlled burn before attempting one on their own. They should contact professionals with Texas Parks & Wildlife, Natural Resource Conservation Service, or the Texas A&M Extension Service.

For more information on prescribed burning, please see Prescribed Range Buring in Texasmedia download(PDF 362.1 KB).

Prescribed fires improve habitat quality. Notice the forb response to a fire in the photo below. The forbs provide great food resources for wildlife.

ground cherry respond favorably to fire