The State of Water

Help Wildlife

Though the drought is tough on Texas wildlife, native animal populations have long survived cycles of extreme weather. In fact, times like these make existing populations stronger by culling weaker animals.

Conserve Water

Your help in conserving this increasingly limited resource will help maintain reservoir water levels and help more water reach our rivers, springs and bays. These resources are critical to wildlife survival and outdoor recreation. It will also save money on water bills.

Plant Native Plants

As conditions improve for planting, choose native plants that provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and other native wildlife. They provide colorful additions to your yard or balcony and require less water than non-native plants. Learn more about wildscapes for the best plants for your region.

Take Only Your Share

Hunting and fishing regulations are designed to keep native Texas wildlife populations healthy. They take into account cycles of drought and other challenges and are adjusted as necessary to preserve our native wildlife. Check daily bag limits and other regulations.

Feed or Don't Feed?

Plant native plants that are part of wildlife's diet. If you do provide food, use caution to prevent attracting rodents, spreading disease and creating an unhealthy increase in animal populations. Be aware that feeding wild animals such as raccoons or opossums can contribute to eventual human-animal conflicts as wild animals lose their fear of humans.


How to Help

  • Plant native plants that provide food and shelter when planting conditions improve. It's the best way to help both year-round and migratory birds. Learn some tips for turning your yard into a Texas wildscape.
  • Provide water, but make sure it’s no more than 3 inches deep. Keep your water free of algae and bacteria by changing it regularly and cleaning the container.
  • Leave young birds alone. If you find a baby bird on the ground, don’t assume it’s been abandoned. Often the parents are nearby watching them. Learn more about what to do if you find a baby bird.

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How to Help

  • Do not feed wildlife such as raccoons, deer and opossums. Learn why we prohibit feeding wildlife in Texas state parks.
  • Do not approach seemingly lost or abandoned wildlife. It can do more harm than good. Keep your distance as staying too close may keep the mother from returning.
  • Leave young animals alone unless they are obviously injured or orphaned. Observe a wild creature from a distance for a while in order to make that determination.
  • Contact your local wildlife rehabilitator if you’ve determined the animal is indeed orphaned. They will provide instructions on what to do.

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Texas is full of wildlife from javelinas to turkeys to prairie dogs. Find places to see wildlife using our Great Texas Wildlife Trails maps.

Butterflies & Insects

How to Help

  • Attract butterflies and other pollinators by planting native Texas plants as weather conditions improve. These tend to be colorful and pleasing additions to a yard.
  • Provide benefit to backyard habitats by planting native plants that attract dragonflies, wasps and spiders. These all prey on ants, flies and mosquitoes.

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During the great Texas monarch migration monarchs funnel through Texas in the fall and the spring. Follow their journey and other wildlife migrations.

Amphibians & Reptiles

How to Help

  • Provide shallow water areas and cover in ornamental ponds which may help amphibians survive increased predation during dry periods. Frogs and toads will also be seeking small moist areas to avoid dessication. Make use of gray water and other discharges such as air conditioner drains to create small seepy areas with cover for frogs and toads to hide. For example, an overturned terracotta pot with a hole in the edge makes a great "toad house".
  • Learn how to recognize venomous snakes. You may have noticed more snakes out in the wild as they search for water. Generally they’ll leave you alone if you don’t bother them, and remember that more people are killed by lightning strikes in Texas than snake bites.

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  • Turtles have polarized vision that allows them to locate water bodies by the polarized reflection of light bouncing off of the surface of water and reflected light “beaming” into the sky. When a pond or creek dries up, they look for the “beams” and head to another water body.
  • Learn more about Texas frogs and toads, and listen to their calls.

Freshwater Fish

During drought conditions, fish congregate in areas with available habitat and food. Low water conditions actually make fishing for species like bass and sunfish easier as they become more concentrated in smaller amounts of cover. Unfortunately, it also makes fish vulnerable to overharvest and stress, leading to diseases and injury.

If water levels get too low or nutrients become too concentrated, fish can die due to lack of oxygen. Restoring fisheries to public waters when conditions improve will be a top priority for Texas Parks & Wildlife.

In the meantime, do not move fish from one public water body to another, even when one water body is going dry. In fact, moving fish is illegal since it can create problems for aquatic ecosystems. It also increases the risk of an accidental introduction of invasive species or diseases. Learn how TPWD manages the stocking of public waters.

If you notice a large number of dead fish and/or pollution in a public water body, contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Kills and Spills hotline at (512) 389-4848 or learn more about the Kills and Spills program.

Coastal Estuarine Life

In times of drought, Texas bays become as salty as the open Gulf. There are many ways this can affect marine species.

  • Seatrout, redfish and black drum can tolerate high salinity and are not especially impacted by the drought.
  • Other species not typically present in our bays can be found there such as jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and pompano.
  • Though oysters can tolerate high salinity, their diseases and predators are favored during droughts. Dermo, a protozoan oyster parasite, proliferates at high salinity and causes a reduction in growth rates, a reduced reproductive capacity, and death. Oysters infected with Dermo are safe to eat, but Dermo-infected oysters rarely live long enough to reach a harvestable size.
  • Blue crabs grow slower and smaller in high salinity. There are fewer large crabs available during droughts.
  • Red tide, a naturally-occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of microscopic algae in coastal waters, most commonly occurs during drought years as the organism that causes red tide does not tolerate low salinity. Texas red tides have occurred from August through February and often result in dead fish washing up on Gulf beaches.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who swim among red-tide associated brevetoxins or inhale brevetoxins dispersed in the air may experience irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Additional evidence suggests that people with existing respiratory illness, such as asthma, may experience these symptoms more severely.
  • Get updates on Texas red tide status, including which marine species are safe to eat.

How to Help

  • Observe daily bag and size limits by reviewing the latest fishing regulations. These regulations are designed to maintain fisheries during drought conditions and will be adjusted as necessary if conditions worsen.
  • Practice proper fish handling if you catch a fish that’s not legal size or you’re fishing catch-and-release. Learn how to remove a hook and release the fish back into the water.
  • Do your part to conserve water because fish need it to survive and reproduce successfully.
  • Be an advocate for maintaining adequate stream flow and reservoir water levels to preserve aquatic life and ensure quality fishing opportunities.

Check It Out

Get general fishing information such as where to fish, stocking dates,Texas fish species, fishing reports and buying a fishing license.

Tour a state-of-the-art fish hatchery and see native Texas fish in their natural environments at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center southeast of Dallas and Sea Center Texas south of Houston.

In partnership with the following water conservation programs:

Taking Care of Texas and Texas Water Smart Take Care of Texas Texas Water Smart
Texas the State of Water
Texas Parks and Wildlife FoundationTravelTex.comTexas Homeland Security
Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Toll Free: (800) 792-1112
Austin: (512) 389-4800

Content of this site © TPWD unless otherwise noted.