#inthewildhood - The Last Chance Edition

10 weeks ago we launched our #inthewildhood summer photo contest. To say it was something of a last-minute substitution would be an understatement. 

© aus10sntx | Wild Thing, Mammals category

We'd been planning our Great Outdoor Scavenger Hunt for a year, but then, well... you know, COVID.  And as needs must, #inthewildhood was born. We could not possibly be more astounded by how much the contest has resonated with the public. 

© Sandra Kelley | House Beautiful category

As we head into our final weekend for submissions, the 6200 individual photos entered by our readers have been viewed almost 34,000 times! That's an average of 85 entries and 470 views per day since the contest began. Wow!

© Christy Barwise | Heavenly Bodies category

Each time we browse through the gallery, which is available for public viewing until September 15th, we ooh and aah over the creepy, ethereal, awe-inspiring and humorous photos. Go take a look, we're sure you will too.

© Clayton Bownds | What the Heck IS That category

And there's still time to enter. Your photo could be featured on the blog or in social media posts, as so many others have been all summer long. Don't miss your shot — you only have to grab your camera and get outside to take it.

© photosbynatacha | Wild Thing, Insects category

There are 12 categories you can enter. Just find the one that matches your creativity and get to work!
© jiminythecricket | Recreation Dreams category

To enter before the August 31st deadline, post a photo with #inthewildhood to your own Instagram or Twitter accounts, to our Facebook page or upload them directly to the contest

© Kristyn Eldridge | Unexpected Plants category

Don't forget! That last sunset in August means the contest is over. Get your entries in this weekend!

© Chandra Renz | Talk About the Weather category

Not sure you know the best way to take outdoor photos? Earl Nottingham reveals tricks of the trade each issue in his column, Picture This. To get the most out of your outdoor photography, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. For a limited time enjoy three months of digital access to 600+ articles and our expanded 2020 Summer issue - all for only $1.99!


San Antonio's Bridge to Nature

On one side, visitors can experience a savanna with Texas persimmon and Ashe juniper trees scattered among the open grassland or even catch a glimpse of a black-bellied whistling duck waddling along the wetlands. On the other side, northern mockingbirds refresh themselves at a rock watering structure, and butterflies flutter among the milkweeds.

But what if these two environments were connected?

Since its opening in 2010, Phil Hardberger Park in San Antonio has provided a refuge for those seeking an outdoor haven. However, this 330-acre park is divided by the Wurzbach Parkway, inhibiting visitors and animals from easily accessing the park’s west and east sides. A land bridge is under construction and will connect the two sides by fall 2020.

Before it was a park, the land was Max and Minnie Voelcker’s dairy farm. When the couple passed away and the land went up for sale, it became the perfect opportunity for Phil Hardberger — who had recently started his second term as San Antonio’s mayor — to create more city green space. Hardberger led the effort to purchase the land, knowing the inevitability of the park’s division as Wurzbach Parkway was being constructed.

“I’m happy we bought it when we did because if we hadn’t, that land would have been filled with houses and developments,” Hardberger said. “From that day until now, I have never seen any other land come on the market that was perfect for a park. We’d probably still be waiting.”

A land bridge was always part of the park’s plan to connect the sides, but its execution was impossible until the city finished building either side of the park and raised funds. The project is currently underway, and will allow pedestrians and wildlife to walk across a nature-immersed bridge, avoiding traffic below. Building a bridge allows cohesiveness between the natural areas and greater wildlife protection. The vegetated bridge will be 150 feet wide so both people and animals can naturally cross, and will add more than an acre of parkland.

The park’s division makes it difficult for wildlife survival because animals can either get hit by oncoming traffic or fail to cross out of fear or intimidation, said Laura Zebehazy, program leader for wildlife habitat assessment at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Zebehazy, who has worked on past highway projects concerning the road impact on wildlife, said roadways can affect multiple animal populations.

“We’re not allowing genetic flow to happen naturally, so it causes isolation of whole populations or parts of it,” Zebehazy said. “Males could be on one side of the road and females on the other, and if they’re not willing to cross, you have that sort of impact.”

While there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, Zebehazy said there are measures to take when considering linear infrastructure. The best approach to ensure wildlife protection is to plan appropriately and intelligently. The Hardberger land bridge will act as an extension of the already existing park area. As the visitors and animals stroll along the path, they will feel as if they’re climbing over a hill and forget about the rushing cars below their feet.

Denise Gross, the park’s executive director, said based on results of other land bridges, animals adapt quickly to the bridges. Looking at wildlife travel patterns, Gross expects the animals to mainly use the bridge when people are absent.

The 10-year project will cost $23 million, pulling from the Hardberger Park Conservancy’s raised donations and grants along with funds from a 2017 city bond. Expected features will include a rainwater system to irrigate the bridge and park, a disability-accessible walking trail and newly planted trees and grasses.

Hardberger said this project came at an appropriate time, not only for construction and economic health purposes but also for the community’s well-being.

“It’s the perfect antidote to what’s been happening, which is a lot of sick people and people out of a job,” Hardberger said. “It’s a triumph over adversity — something beautiful and spectacular out of the ashes."

To learn more about conservation efforts in Texas, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.  For a limited time enjoy three months of digital access to 600+ articles and our expanded 2020 Summer issue - all for only $1.99!


The Wily Coyote

Coyotes, those dog-like carnivores, are known for many things. To some, they are the wise counselors or crafty tricksters based on Native American tales. To others, they are a threat to the metropolitan areas of today. To a few, they are truly understood as intelligent and respectful animals. 

© Kenneth G. Ransom | #inthewildhood


Coyotes can be found in 49 U.S. states and frequently occur in Texas. Nineteen subspecies exist, and they’ve taken over much of what historically was the range of gray wolves and red wolves. 


For thousands of years, coyotes have become interwoven throughout Native American lore, often depicted as savvy and clever, trickster shapeshifters or even wise deities with supernatural powers. In 1804, the Lewis and Clark expedition encountered coyotes in what is now South Dakota and called them “prairie wolves.” The name “coyote” derived from the Aztec word coyotl, which Spanish settlers in North America used. 


Coyotes have continually adapted to human communities as cities and towns spread into undeveloped areas. Urban coyotes have even resorted to hunting during the night to avoid humans, which is why many people consider coyotes nocturnal. However, in areas of little or no human activity, they will hunt during all hours of the day. 

© Felisha M. Garcia | #inthewildhood


Coyotes are extremely intelligent and adaptable, and they have great senses of smell, vision and hearing.  


Coyotes stir strong reactions in people, including dislike and fear. In a Yale University study in 1985, coyotes were ranked below rats, skunks, vultures, rattlesnakes, mosquitos and cockroaches in popularity. Dogs were ranked as the most popular, though coyotes and dogs are closely related. 


Much of this fear is based on irrational myths and negative associations with the species. Many people fear coyotes because they believe they will attack humans. However, coyotes rarely act violently toward people. There has been only one recorded fatality in the U.S. by a coyote.  


Coyotes are actually quite wary of humans. One of the only reasons they may bite is that they have been fed in the past by humans, thus breaking the fear barrier between humans and the animal. Anytime an animal loses its fear of humans it poses more of a threat to both the human and the species. 


Another reason people have negative opinions of coyotes is that they think coyotes eat house pets. While that does happen occasionally — coyotes will eat almost anything — pets are not their primary prey. In an Urban Coyote Research Center study, the most common food items found in coyote scat were small rodents, fruit, deer and rabbits. Cats made up only 1.3 percent of the food consumed. 

© John Stephens | #inthewildhood

Many people also associate coyotes with their night howls. Coyotes have a wide repertoire of yips, growls, barks and howls, depending on what they want to communicate. A group yip-howl is what coyotes are most known for, and coyotes do it when they reunite, or just before they separate to go off hunting. These howls strengthen social bonds and send turf signals to other coyotes in the area.  


Coyotes are a critical component to maintaining the biodiversity of an ecosystem. They help control rabbit and rodent populations and can eat up to 1,500 rodents per year. Despite the negative beliefs surrounding coyotes, they are shy and resilient animals that have been surviving on their own for years — we can trust and respect them from a distance!  


Read more about coyotes in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine: 

To learn more about native Texas wildlife, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.  For a limited time enjoy three months of digital access to 600+ articles and our expanded 2020 Summer issue - all for only $1.99!