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      Nature Report: Wildlife Success Stories

      When I was a youngster growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, you rarely saw a brown pelican or a peregrine falcon, and you never saw an aplomado falcon.

      However, some things in our natural world do change for the better.

      With the banning of the harmful pesticide DDT in 1972, the brown pelican and peregrine falcon began their dramatic comebacks.

      Many birds at the top of the food chain such as pelicans, peregrines and aplomados ingested high levels of DDT, which was concentrated in the fatty tissue of their prey.

      Birds contaminated with the pesticide failed to lay eggs or produced fragile eggshells that often broke during incubation.

      The once endangered peregrine falcon and brown pelican have both been taken off the federal endangered species list, and thanks to successful reintroduction efforts by the Peregrine Fund the aplomado has returned to its historic habitat in deep South Texas.

      The endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle is also staging a slow comeback along the shores of South Padre Island and Boca Chica beach, and this year a record 69 turtles nests were discovered along the Valley's beaches.

      Texas still has approximately 145 animals on the state list of endangered and threatened species, including the rare ocelot whose numbers are thought to remain at less than 80.

      Other species like the reddish egret; Texas tortoise and indigo snake are threatened, meaning they are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

      Each of these species faces unique circumstances threatening their existence, but providing sufficient safe habitat for them is of paramount importance.

      And the brown pelican and peregrine falcon have taught us that species recovery is possible if we are willing to take the necessary steps.