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      Nature Report: Horny Toads Thrive on Cactus Creek Ranch

      The Texas Horned Lizard, commonly called the horny toad, thrives on Mary Jo Bogatto's Cactus Creek Ranch east of Rio Hondo where she has marked 23 harvester ant beds, which are the favorite food of Texas's state reptile. Mary Jo Bogatto, Cactus Creek Ranch Owner, "All the ants here are protected on this ranch and that is to preserve the horned lizard." The local abundance of horny toads has attracted a visit from the Horned Lizard Conservation Society led by Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist Leeann Linam who is coordinator for the Texas Horned Lizard Watch Program. Leeann Linam, TPW Biologist, "We are out here today at a private ranch, Cactus Creek Ranch, and recognizing that private landowners do have a big role in wildlife conservation." There are three species of horned lizards in the state, and the Texas Horned Lizard is the one that makes its home in South Texas, but you don't see as many as you used to due to a combination of factors. Linam, "We feel like habitats were getting destroyed and also fragmented and then fire ants arrived on the scene. And so the impact of fire ants on land dwelling vertebrates and on other invertebrates such as harvester ants that were the food source of the horned lizards, and then the fact that people tried to aggressively get rid of fire ants probably created the use of a lot of pesticides in habitats and inadvertently destroyed the food of the horned lizards." But here on Cactus Creek Ranch the Texas Horned Lizards and their favorite food are doing just fine. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore
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