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      Nature Report: Wildlife Suffering with Drought

      The prolonged drought plaguing southernmost Texas is taking its toll on wildlife.The ribs are showing on whitetail deer, and javelina are desperately seeking sustenance in desiccated prickly pear cactus. With the forecast pointing to the likelihood of dry conditions intensifying, the creatures of the chaparral will be hard pressed to survive. Quail and turkey production last year was minimal at best in deep South Texas, and this year there may not be sufficient moisture to sustain any successful hatch to replenish their waning numbers. Native creatures like whitetail deer are well adapted to drought, but despite their hardiness they need a modicum of rainfall to survive and procreate. Pregnant does will have a tough time carrying fawns to healthy birth in late June and July unless the tip of Texas receives meaningful precipitation in the next month or so, and without adequate browse they will be unable to produce milk to nurture their offspring.Nongame species will suffer as well, and there is particular concern for the endangered ocelot.Dr. Michael Tewes, Wildlife Biologist, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, "I think drought is one of the primary threats to ocelots. Bobcats and ocelots in general decline, their prey declines during a significant drought, and if we ever have another drought like the one in the 1950's, which often occurs about every hundred years, it could be a serious threat to the existence of ocelots in Texas." And with less than 50 of the endangered cats estimated to remain in the brushlands of deep South Texas any loss due to drought could be devastating. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.