Understaffing Prompts Refuge to Seek Hunters’ Help
BROWNSVILLE – There are currently seven people working at the Laguna Atascosa National Refuge to manage over 100,000 acres of land.
Boyd Blihovde, the refuge manager, said they’re doing what they can with what they have
10 years ago, Blihovde said they had 15 people on staff. Now, their numbers have dwindled to less than half.
"We really are working tirelessly to try and get as much done as we possibly can," he said.
Blihovde started working at the refuge four years ago. He said due to them being short-staffed, it's common for them to take multiple roles.
"We have fewer resources now to do those jobs,” he said.
This becomes an issue when dealing problems at the refuge. Blihovde said the cattle fever tick is high on their radar at the moment.
"We don't have any cattle on the refuge, so for us it's the exotic nilgai which is an antelope, and it's probably the number one problem for a wildlife species in South Texas," he explained.
Blihovde said feral hogs continue to cause damage to the refuge. He said they are being stretched thin.
"If we had more resources from partners and other agencies, then it would be obviously helpful,” he said.
To make up for their lack of numbers, Blihovde said they are turning to hunters for help.
"It's our best method of keeping numbers manageable. It won’t eliminate species but it will control the numbers at a manageable number year to year,” he explained.
Blihovde said they’re also working with local ranchers to fight the tick.
He hopes they will be able to hire more people in the future. But for now, Blihovde said they’re doing the best with what they have.
The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge hosts public hunts in the fall. Hunters will need a permit which is available through the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s website.
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