Mammals at Spring Creek are rarely seen since most larger species avoid humans. We have only seen armadillo, red bat, cotton rat, fox squirrel, Eastern red bat, coyote, beaver, eastern cottontail, raccoon, and opossum. Bobcats have been reported in Spring Creek Forest as well as white-tailed deer in 2002. Photo of Bobcat (2004 Rosehill Park) courtesy of Richard Prather and Coyote courtesy of Ben Cox. “Wolf” shots were taken in 2007 and are not pure wolf strains but used to illustrate past species.
Texas Parks and Wildlife
“Extinct and Extirpated are other terms associated with rare species. While extinct means that a species no longer exists anywhere on earth, like dinosaurs, extirpated describes an animal that has disappeared from a given area but still exists elsewhere. An example is the pronghorn antelope. The first settlers that arrived in North Texas described in their journals herds of pronghorns as far east as Fannin County. Pronghorns have since been extirpated from the northeastern portion of their range in Texas. They currently exist in Texas west of the 100th meridian and are numerous enough to be a game animal.”
“Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat is the number one cause for species declines in Texas. For example, the black-footed ferret is one of the rarest mammals in North America, yet it inhabited prairie dog towns in North Texas as recently as 1963. While prairie dog towns still exist, they are too small and too few in number to support a population of ferrets. Many other species have met with the same demise in North “Central Texas in the last150 years. Animals like the plains bison, the red and gray wolf, black and grizzly bears, passenger pigeon, ivory-billed woodpecker, and pronghorn antelope are either extinct, federally threatened /endangered, or have been extirpated from North Central Texas. These are all animals that require large expanses of habitat. With the arrival of early settlers, native prairies and forests were gradually fragmented into smaller and smaller pieces, divided by roads, towns, and cropland. This trend continues today as the cities grow larger, the rural areas become more populated. This is most evident along the IH-35 corridor in the heart of the Blackland Prairie and Cross Timbers regions. Historically the Blackland prairie ecological area encompassed approximately 10.6 million acres of virgin tallgrass prairie. Conservative estimates reveal that only 200,000 acres currently exist.”
“So why should I be concerned about an Endangered species that I have never even seen before? Most people become disturbed over the potential loss of large or charismatic species like Greater prairie-chickens (locally extirpated by early 1900’s), jaguars (last one killed in Mills county in 1903), bald eagles (currently on Federal Threatened list), or black bears (common in Grayson county as late as 1848) because it signals that something is terribly wrong to lose such large or beautiful animals. Unfortunately the same doesn’t always apply to a salamander, a small songbird, or a plant. An ecosystem is like a spider web. It is held together by all the plants, animals, water, air, and nutrients, each being a thread in the web. With each thread that is removed, many other threads are weakened until the entire web collapses. The fact is that when animals disappear from an ecosystem, it indicates that the area is not only becoming less inhabitable for animals but also for people. The bottom line is that in North Central Texas we don’t have any large, attractive animals that are threatened or endangered to get everyone’s attention…we have already lost those.”