Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, July, 2000 Page: 73
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Colorado County Wildlife Under Siege
government control agents, their populations were reduced to near zero by the turn of the
century. Although a token population of the red wolf survived (perhaps hybridized with the
coyote), at least until the 1970s in extreme southeastern Texas, one may guess that the
animal disappeared from the Colorado County scene before 1910. Perhaps the last reported
county records were of two half-grown animals, called lobos at the time and presumed to be
red wolves, captured by Oliver Flowers near Chesterville on August 5, 1908. They were
apparently caged and placed on exhibit in Eagle Lake. From 1937 to 1939, field biologists
from the Texas Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit out of College Station conducted an
intensive county wildlife survey including a search for any surviving red wolves. They found
none. However, when Harvey Lee of Columbus killed an exceptionally large wild canid near
Rock Island, one of the field biologists (your author) took the animal to Texas A&M for
expert identification. It proved to have no distinctive wolf features, being merely a large and
fine example of the coyote. The red wolf's gradual demise allowed its less-husky relative,
the coyote, to replace it as the "top wild dog" in the local environmental food chain. Even
though the coyote, usually called wolf locally, is being constantly harried, it has proved to be
an intrepid survivor and unlike its heavier cousin has withstood effectively all of the assorted
onslaughts by predatory animal control specialists on its well-being.
Red Fox: Fox hunters appear to have been responsible for introducing this wily target for
their hounds into Texas about the turn of the century. The time when it spread into Colorado
County from more eastern counties is obscure, as is its relationship to the native gray fox
Black Bear: Woody cover in Colorado County, being scant in prairie-prone pioneer days,
probably provided habitat for only a small population of this heavy and conspicuous creature.
No doubt individuals ranged for miles along the rather narrow forested-edges of larger
stream systems. Although the bear was pursued by settlers as a potential killer of calves,
hogs, lambs, or colts, and for useful products that could be derived from its carcass, including
meat, hides, and grease, it persisted locally until the early years of the twentieth century. On
August 3, 1907, for example, Henry Burttschell killed a sow black bear and captured her two
cubs near Ramsey, and on July 15, 1915, Gus Seaholm saw a half-grown individual on rice
land four miles east of Eagle Lake. Although these seem to be the last reported county
sightings, the back bear did linger longer in the vicinity, in palmetto swamp habitat in the Old
Ocean area of Brazoria County. One, perhaps the last survivor, was treed and shot by a
squirrel hunter in the autumn of 1939.
Long-tailed Weasel: This statewide diminutive carnivore is more common in western Texas
and is less so in Colorado County and most other parts of eastern Texas. Without positive
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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/m1/9/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.