By Sam Kieschnick, Urban Wildlife Biologist, Texas Parks and Wildlife
On Thursday, August 15, the North Texas Master Naturalists hosted an Urban Wildlife Conference at the Richardson Civic Center. This workshop had presenters from Texas Parks and Wildlife and Dallas Parks and Recreation. There were over 100 participants from around the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Many of them work for municipalities as public land managers and were able to get two Continuing Education Units Credits (CEU) for attending. The presentations focused on how we can manage land for both wildlife and people.
Paul Crump, the Herpetologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, first talked about turtles. He spent some time explaining about turtle biology, ecology, and identification. Also, Paul dispelled some of the common myths about turtles. For instance, turtles don’t kill all of the fish in a pond! Secondly, Brett Johnson, the Urban Wildlife Biologist with Dallas Parks and Recreation, talked about everyone’s favorite critter: the rat! He talked about how to spot rat activity in buildings, how to identify the different species of non-native rodents, and why we should all be more cautious about the food we eat. Rachel Richter, an Urban Wildlife Biologist in DFW, then presented on urban bobcats and coyotes and ways to prevent habituation. One of the key messages: don’t feed wildlife! Nathan Rains, a Regional Wildlife Biologist from Abilene, talked all about snakes. He brought several living snakes to give each participant a close-up look. The important message: the only good snake is NOT a dead snake! Snakes are important in the ecosystem. Finally, I presented on how land managers can use citizen science to guide proper management and engage the naturalists in the community. As expected, I spent some time on iNaturalist, the citizen science platform of which I’m a huge fan.
The workshop was an overwhelming success. We all got lots of great feedback and there’s definitely a lot of interest in another workshop like this in the near future. I’m extremely grateful for all of the work that the North Texas Master Naturalists did for this workshop. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
We received lots of great feedback from participants. These are just a few of the comments:
- I thought the conference was well organized, the topics relevant and the speakers knowledgeable and informative.
- All the talks were great. Loved all of them.
- The speakers were all excellent. I took a lot of notes and learned so much.
- I liked the variety of topics and the fact that it was so practical and still very engaging. The speakers were entertaining as well as professional.
- It was a good conference and worth my time.
- Everyone on my team agreed that it was one of the best one-day conferences we have attended in quite a while.
- We will definitely be in attendance next year. Great job!
Check out the photo album from this great event.