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      Nature Report: Exceptional drought

      Deep South Texas is suffering from an exceptional drought. Waterholes are drying up, wildlife is stressed and ranchers are being forced to cull their cattle due to lack of grass.

      Texas's worst drought since record keeping began in 1895, with 60 percent of the state in exceptional drought, is taking a toll on wildlife as Rio Grande turkeys were unable to raise young and quail while paired up don't have enough moisture to support offspring.

      Drought is no stranger to South Texas and native wildlife while adaptable to extremes is suffering with the severity of this current prolonged stretch of dry weather. If rainfall does not come soon, more animals will perish.

      Shrinking waterholes are magnets for thirsty creatures and ranch country windmills are spinning ceaselessly in an attempt to draw up water from ever increasing depths.

      Whitetail deer will be giving birth to fawns soon. The helpless young will not have much cover to hide in during their critical first few days and many will succumb to predators.

      Also, does will have difficulty producing sufficient milk to feed their fawns, as browse is scarce.

      Adding to the stress on whitetail deer is the thriving population of exotic nilgai antelope. These large antelope that have been proliferating since their introduction in the 1930's will compete with whitetails as food becomes less available.

      And without rainfall soon, the sentinels of death will be busy in the weeks to come.