The Houston Urban Wildlife Project


April 22, 2021
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While Earth Day undoubtedly evokes various emotions in people who are passionate about the environment, I don’t consider myself a very emotional person. I think I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had tears in my eyes since I was in my early teens.

However, one of those moments that I remember clearly getting upset, is driving back to the museum after visiting with a class at an elementary school. Several of the kids attending that inner-city school did not know what a raccoon was. They acted as if they never heard of such a creature. Captain Underpants? Yes. Minecraft? Certainly! But not a raccoon… Needless to say, this experience bothered and upset me.

Raccoon holding a crawfish snack. Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife

Children spend twice as long looking at phone screens as they spend outside. By the time they reach the age of seven, kids will have been looking at screens an average of four hours per day. My wife and I were doing really good at keeping the kids off screens, but they were failed by the school district who required some homework to be done and submitted via the internet. Once they were introduced to a tablet they had a major distraction from the great outdoors. Luckily their roots were grounded in going outside before this major diversion.

Spending over 20 years as the Curator of Vertebrate Zoology (Wildlife) here at HMNS, one thing I’ve learned is that ALL kids LOVE wildlife, if given the opportunity to see it. Whether they’ve been exposed to wildlife or not, all kids (like most adults) have a connection with wildlife. What a lot of people don’t realize is how accessible wildlife is, even in big metropolises like the Bayou City.

Over the years my interns and I have done a lot of research projects on urban wildlife here in Houston – enough so that I felt compelled to launch a website. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce HUWP – the Houston Urban Wildlife Project!

By navigating the various links, you can see which species of wildlife we’ve studied here in Houston. Read about the study by clicking on the hyperlinked publications. Learn about how you can make a direct contribution as a Citizen Scientist, and perhaps most importantly – learn where to go here in little ‘ol Houston to see some great wildlife.

Enjoy!

Authored By Dan Brooks

As the HMNS Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, Dr. Dan is known as ‘the guy with the most backbone’ in the museum! He curates four permanent exhibits at the museum, where he was worked as a full-time staff member since 1999. He has described 10 new species to date, and is very active in local (hmns.org/houstonwildlife) and international (Southeast Asia and Latin America) wildlife research, especially with gamebirds. Afflicted with the inability to ‘shake the nature bug’, when he’s not at work in the museum, one of his favorite things to do is scouting and exploring the great outdoors with his family.


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