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April 3, 2006
Drought Affects Backyard Wildlife
AUSTIN, Texas — Dry gardens. Wildfires. Low reservoirs. These are all examples of how the drought is affecting Texas this year. State wildlife biologists say there is something land managers and gardeners can do to offset the drought’s impact.
“Water is a vital resource for all life, including our backyard visitors,” says Matt Wagner, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department director of wildlife diversity. “If the drought continues, it will be important for homeowners across the state to maintain water features that wildlife are using in our backyards.”
Not only will water be needed for ponds and birdbaths, but the plants animals use in gardens will be struggling as the drought continues. Wildscapes, or landscapes that are designed with wildlife in mind, and supplemental feeders will become increasingly important, since food for birds, butterflies and other animals depend on may be scarce from other natural sources.
“Nectar, seed and fruit production all require water,” said Mark Klym, coordinator of TPWD’s Texas Wildscapes program. “Leaves are composed heavily of water and stems serve to transport water through the plants. The Texas Department of Transportation recently stated that they do not expect a great wildflower display this year. This is typical of what will be happening with plants in the wild during droughts. The plants we use in our wildscapes are native, generally consuming less water than cultivated ornamentals, but they still require some water. These plants will also be important food and shelter sources this year.”
For information on the Texas Wildscapes program, and other ways citizens can help birds, butterflies and wildlife in gardens, see the TPWD Web site.
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