Wildlife in The Woodlands
Life in The Woodlands brings the discovery and adventure of nature to our back door. The 1,800-acre George Mitchell Nature Preserve and more than 3,000 acres of open space reserves provide habitat for a diverse wildlife population. Many local species, like opossums, armadillos and hummingbirds, are unique to the Americas.
Nature photography, critter watching and butterfly gardening provide countless hours of recreation to residents of all ages. The diversity of birds, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, attracts birdwatchers from around the globe.
Wildlife are the native inhabitants of The Woodlands and perform a vital role in our environment. Living in harmony with foraging wildlife requires a little planning and sound property management.
Important Wildlife Phone NumbersThe Woodlands Township provides a list of important phone numbers for local agencies as a resource to community members who need assistance with wildlife issues and inquiries.
Nature Lecture Series
Want to lean more about the unique species that inhabit our community? Join the Environmental Services Department for the Walk in the Woods Nature Lecture Series which features guest speakers presenting various topics ranging from bats and owls to hummingbirds and habitat gardening.
Feral Hogs (Sus scrofa)
Appear similar to domestic pigs. Adults may reach a shoulder height of 36 inches and weigh from 100 to over 400 pounds. European wild hogs are similar in size but have a brownish color with grizzled hair on back, sides, ears and tail. Have relatively poor eyesight but have keen senses of hearing and smell.
Generally travel in family groups called sounders, comprised normally of two sows and their young. Mature boars are usually solitary, only joining a herd to breed. Under normal conditions, a feral hog population can double in just four months. Sows are capable of breeding at six months of age and can produce up to 2 litters per year.
Feral hogs are an invasive species introduced over 300 years ago. Few predators are capable of preying upon large, healthy adult feral hogs. Younger feral hogs can become prey to animals such as coyotes, bobcats, and foxes.
Feral hogs are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Very opportunistic feeders, eating most plant and animal matter that is available to them including grasses, forbs, roots and tubers, fruits, mushrooms, insects, earthworms, reptiles, amphibians, carrion (dead animals), live mammals and birds. Especially fond of acorns and domestic agricultural crops. They feed primarily at night and during twilight hours.
Where Found in The Woodlands
Could be sighted anywhere within The Woodlands. Prefer dense vegetation with water nearby. Concentrate in areas of food availability, especially where there are nut producing trees or agricultural crops.
A physical attack by a feral hog is highly unlikely as they prefer to flee rather than fight. May become aggressive when cornered or when a sow and her litter are separated. Can cause significant damage to landscaping as they seek out food such as acorns, grass roots, gardens, and flower bulbs.
Feral hogs greatly impact native plants and wildlife. Rooting, trampling and wallowing destroys vegetation and destabilizes riparian areas. Soil compaction and erosion, spread of invasive vegetation, water quality degradation, and disruption of the nutrient cycle ensues. As well, feral hogs prey on young animals, especially ground nesting bird nests, compete for their food sources and can spread disease and parasites.
Reducing Impacts Around the Home
Properly-maintained fencing will keep feral hogs from entering your yard. Attaching net wire fence that is flush to the ground works well. Fences need not be higher than 36 inches.
If feral hogs are entering an unfenced area, remove their food sources – rake up acorns, remove bulbs, fence off your garden. Chasing them off will prove effective in the moment but they are likely to return and likely at night. No chemical repellants are currently labeled for use. Physical deterrents such as motion-activated sprinklers or ultrasonic animal repellants have not been proven effective.
Trapping is a common method to control feral hogs though often not completely effective, entire sounders are difficult to catch, and remaining individuals may return. Contact your local Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Biologist or Technician for technical assistance and, in some cases, direct control of feral hogs (contact info below).
Feral hogs may be killed or trapped on private property without a State of Texas license or permit with landowner consent. Discharge of firearms of any kind within The Woodlands Township is not permitted.. If a landowner or their agent plans to trap or snare hogs they should have a valid Texas hunting license, since these activities could affect other wildlife species. For additional regulations governing hunting and control of feral hogs consult the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.
Transportation and release of live feral hogs is unlawful, unless in compliance with Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) regulations. The TAHC regulates the movement of feral swine for disease-control purposes. For more information, consult the Texas Animal Health Commission website.
Who to Contact
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension - Wildlife Services will provide technical assistance and, in some cases, direct control of feral hogs
Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute to submit a public report of feral hog activity or seek advice
Texas Parks and Wildlife: Feral Hogs for education on feral pics, reducing their impacts and to report wild hogs
Occasionally sighted in spring, a honey bee swarm signals that a queen has left the hive with a large number of workers to establish a new hive. When scouting for a site, the swarm may rest on a tree or side of a building. While alarming, swarming bees are generally not aggressive and will usually move on if left alone.
Things to Remember
- Always use necessary safety precautions when around a swarm or hive.
- Swarming bees may form a large “ball” with the queen in the middle.
- The swarm is seeking a new home.
- Aggressive behavior is generally associated with defense of a hive. Swarming bees have not established a hive yet; there are no eggs or larvae to protect.
- Distinguishing between a bee and a wasp can be tricky; wasps can sting repeatedly as opposed to some bees that lose their stinger once it is used.
- Bees may build a hive in the hollow of a tree or in the eaves, behind loose boards in a wall or under the roof of a house or structure if they can gain access.
- Less than one percent of the population is allergic to bee stings. However, it is always better to be safe.
Bee Removal and Beekeeping Resources
- 3BeeGuys Bee Removal: (844) 323-3489
- The Woodlands Bee Removal: (936) 523-0135
- GKW Farms: (281) 768-9900; (281) 593-5067
- The Bee Rustler: (936) 537-7126
- The Bee Wrangler: (832) 248-8313
- Bee Removal Source
- Montgomery County Beekeepers Association
- Urban Harvest
Due to pressures, honey bees and native pollinators are in decline. Planting to attract pollinators is a growing trend in gardening. Due to our comparatively mild winters, The Woodlands provides a year round home for honey bees as well as solitary native bees and bumble bees. Visit the links below to learn more about pollinators and pollinator gardens:
Egret Problem and Solution
Despite abundant natural habitat, colonial nesting waterbirds have created a rookery in the Wedgewood Forest area. When wildlife loses its innate fear and adapts to close contact with humans, problems arise.
- In 2008, the colony had over 100 nests and an estimated 500 birds.
- Noise and odor from the volume of guano, regurgitated food and fallen nestlings are a nuisance and may pose a health concern.
- In December, birds begin nesting in tall trees, usually returning to a previous site with growing numbers each year.
Before egg laying, birds can be persuaded to move. In consultation with wildlife biologists, Parks and Recreation Department developed an Action Plan:
- Old nests were removed and trees were pruned at Wedgewood Park. Residents were advised to do likewise.
- When birds arrive, a combination of low-impact methods in a highly randomized pattern will be used to make the area undesirable to them.
- Broadcasting distress and predator calls, laser lights and water may be used to discourage nesting in the residential area.
- Some noise is unavoidable.
It is impossible to predict where the egrets and herons will go. Residents should monitor tall trees, particularly at dawn and dusk. To persuade birds to move, try these techniques: making loud noises (banging pots and pans, drums, etc); using light and movement (strobe or laser lights, tennis balls tossed in air); using water (high pressure water hose, motion activated sprinklers).
NOTE: Once birds nest, they must be left alone. Protected by the Federal Migratory Birds Treaty Act, nesting birds, their young, eggs and active nests cannot be disturbed in any way under penalty of law.