Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000 Page: 72
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Henry P. Attwater of Houston received from Johann Friedrich Leyendeker of Frelsburg.
The latter wrote about beaver living on or near the properties of Justin Stein, William
Schulenburg, and Emil Brune, who farmed either along the creek or along the Colorado
River north of Columbus.4 The beaver's demise, through unregulated trapping and hunting,
was primarily because of (a) its pesky habit of flooding streamside croplands with impounded
waters behind its dams, (b) its raids on corn fields, (c) its cutting of fruit trees, and (d) the
taste of its flesh, since baked beaver was a gourmet's delight. The beaver was reestablished
in the county with animals live-trapped in the Llano River drainage and released by wildlife
officials along Colorado County streams in the 1940s and 1950s.
Nutria: This husky South American rodent was heralded as being the salvation of the fur
industry when it was first brought in 1938 to Louisiana's coastal marshes. Instead, its pelts
never proved as salable as first thought. Nevertheless, this animal, whose voracious appetite
for aquatic vegetation was also promoted as a cure-all for weed-choked waters, was widely
released in Texas and elsewhere. In 1950, five individuals (two males and three females)
were obtained by David Wintermann from the Campbell Nutria Farm and introduced in
Eagle Lake. Within five years the descendants of these animals, lacking few natural re-
straints on their reproductive capabilities, had become so numerous that they were literally
competing with each other in eating the lake's striking emergent vegetation. This increase
continued despite predation by the few remaining alligators, and on-sight nutria killing by
either members of the Eagle Lake Rod and Gun Club or by paid bounty hunters. Even so, the
pesky nutria persisted and cleared Eagle Lake's crystal-clear shallow waters of its attrac-
tive cover of "floating islands" of saw grass. Ultimately, this huge nutria population crashed,
with the resulting numbers of this introduced muskrat-like creature now seemingly stable at
a community-compatible level. However, Eagle Lake's open turbid water, not yet recovered
with an established vegetative cover, is a monumental reminder of the habitat-wrecking
potency of the ill-conceived introduction of an aggressive exotic which lacks environmental
restraints. In a sense, one might compare what the human entry has done to the county
ecosystem with what the nutria has done to totally destroy the delightful Eagle Lake wetland
community with its teeming plant and animal life.
Red Wolf In pioneer times two large canids were indigenous in Texas-the widespread
gray wolf (Canis lupus) in western deserts and highlands and the red wolf in Colorado
County and other parts of eastern Texas. Both meat-eaters began preying on domestic
livestock and seemed incompatible with ranching operations. Since both wolves were rather
easily trapped, poisoned, or killed using trail hounds by livestock owners, bounty hunters, and
4 Vernon Bailey, Biological Survey of Texas (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Department of Agriculture,
Biological Survey, North American Fauna No. 25, 1905), pp. 122-124.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000, periodical, July 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151409/m1/8/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.