Wildlife Areas

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: June 13, 2020

In 1994 Texas had twenty-nine state wildlife management areas encompassing 1.5 million acres and eighteen national wildlife refuges. The areas were acquired for research and demonstration and to provide protection for unusual wildlife species and habitats. In many of the state-owned areas, supervised public hunting and fishing were permitted if surplus game existed. The state wildlife areas were as follows.

Candy Cain Abshier Wildlife Management Area, 207 acres, was established in Chambers County twenty-five miles south of Anahuac. Primarily a nongame preserve, it is a favorite with bird watchers. Alazan Bayou WMA, 1,923 acres, was established in Nacogdoches County in 1991 just southwest of Nacogdoches. Principal game species are squirrel, woodcock, archery deer, and waterfowl, although its primary function is to preserve bottomland hardwoods. Atkinson Island WMA, 151 acres, was established in Harris County near the Houston Ship Channel and can only be reached by boat. The area's principal purpose is the preservation of shorebird habitat. Black Gap WMA, 106,915 acres, was established in Brewster County fifty-five miles south of Marathon. Principal game species are desert mule deer, javelina, dove, rabbit, and scaled (blue) quail. Bobcat and coyote are also found. Walter Buck WMA, 2,123 acres, was established in Kimble County three miles southwest of Junction. Principal wildlife species are wild turkey and white-tailed, axis, and sika deer. Chaparral WMA, 15,200 acres, was established in Dimmit and La Salle counties eight miles west of Artesia Wells. Principal game species are deer, javelina, feral hog, quail, and mourning dove. Western diamondback rattlesnakes are also abundant. Dam B WMA, 13,445 acres, was established in Jasper and Tyler counties on upper B. A. Steinhagen Lake. Principal wildlife species are white-tailed deer, cottontail and swamp rabbits, gray and fox squirrels, and a variety of waterfowl. James E. Daughtrey WMA, 8,000 acres, was established in Live Oak and McMullen counties and surrounded Choke Canyon. Principal wildlife species are javelina, quail, turkey, mourning dove, feral hog, and waterfowl.

Elephant Mountain WMA, 23,000 acres, was established in Brewster County twenty-six miles south of Alpine. Principal wildlife species are javelina, pronghorn deer, quail, and dove. In 1987 bighorn sheep were introduced into the area. Engeling Wildlife Management Areas, 10,941 acres, was established in Anderson County twenty miles northwest of Palestine. Principal wildlife species are quail, mourning dove, turkey, deer, feral hog, squirrel, and waterfowl. The area hosted a wildlife research station for the Post Oak Savannah Ecological Region of East Texas operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Granger WMA, 11,116 acres, was established in Williamson County three miles southeast of Granger. Principal wildlife species are pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, quail, fox, mourning dove, and waterfowl. Guadalupe Delta WMA, 4,669 acres, was established in Calhoun County three miles northeast of Tivoli. This WMA is managed primarily for wetland wildlife, including waterfowl, alligators, and migratory shore birds. Gene Howe WMA, 5,821 acres, was established in Hemphill County seven miles east of Canadian. Principal wildlife species are white-tailed deer, quail, mourning dove, and wild turkey. Keechi Creek WMA, 1,500 acres, was established in Leon County ten miles south of Oakwood. Principal wildlife species are deer, squirrel, feral hog, waterfowl, and eastern turkey. Kerr Wildlife Management Area, 6,493 acres, was established in Kerr County twelve miles west of Hunt. Wildlife species included mourning dove, quail, javelina, Rio Grande turkey, armadillo, fox, and the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo.

Las Palomas WMA, 3,900 acres, was divided into sixteen units in Cameron, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy, and Presidio counties. Principal wildlife species are white-winged dove, chachalaca, javelina, scaled quail, and the endangered ocelot and jaguarundi. Lower Neches WMA, 5,591 acres, was established in Orange County near upper Sabine Lake. Principal wildlife species are alligators, waterfowl, and migratory shore birds. Mad Island WMA, 5,700 acres, was established in Matagorda County five miles west of Matagorda. Wildlife includes a variety of waterfowl, alligator, raccoon, river otter, mink, white-tailed deer, armadillo, fox, rabbit, and bobcat. Matador WMA, 28,000 acres, was established in Cottle County seven miles north of Paducah. Wildlife includes bobwhite quail, mule deer, dove, and turkey. Pat Mayse WMA, 8,925 acres, was established in Lamar County twelve miles northwest of Paris. J. D. Murphree WMA, 13,250 acres, was established in Jefferson County and divided into three units along the upper Texas coast. Its primary purpose is to serve as a marsh area preserve for local and migratory waterfowl. Old Tunnel WMA, 10.5 acres, was established in Kendall County thirteen miles from Comfort. Primary wildlife are bats, who used the abandoned railroad tunnel as a summer roost. Peach Point WMA, 10,312 acres, was established in Brazoria County five miles west of Freeport. Wildlife species are alligator, armadillo, feral hog, quail, mourning dove, cottontail rabbit, white-tailed deer, and a variety of shore birds. Playa Lakes WMA, 2,240 acres, was established in Moore, Hartley, and Castro counties. The three tracts located in the Panhandle are home to many species associated with playas, including a variety of waterfowl.

Redhead Pond WMA, 42 acres, was established in Nueces County in Flour Bluff. It is primarily used as a bird sanctuary and has a variety of winter waterfowl. Richland Creek WMA, 13,800 acres, was established in Freestone County twenty-five miles southwest of Corsicana and is used primarily as a hunting preserve. Sierra Diablo WMA, 10,991 acres, was established in Culberson and Hudspeth counties thirty-two miles northwest of Van Horn. The principal wildlife species are mule deer, and the area is also used for broodstock production of bighorn sheep. Somerville WMA, 3,180 acres, was established in Burleson and Lee counties twelve miles southwest of Somerville. Principal wildlife species are squirrel, rabbit, white-tailed deer, and migrant waterfowl. Welder Flats Coastal Preserve, 1,480 acres, was established in Calhoun County. The area was used primarily to preserve and enhance the submerged coastal wetlands and the wading and shore birds associated with the area, especially the whooping crane.

The federal wildlife refuges in Texas in 1994 were Anahuac, Aransas, Attwater Prairie Chicken, Big Boggy, Brazoria, Buffalo Lake, Hagerman, Laguna Atascosa, Lower Rio Grande Valley, Matagorda Island, McFaddin, Muleshoe, San Bernard, Santa Ana, and Texas Point National Wildlife Refuges. Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1992 in the Texas Hill Country as a preserve for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. It will eventually comprise 41,000 acres. The two other refuge areas in Texas, Little Sandy and Moody national wildlife refuges, both serve as conservation easement refuges.

Texas also has a number of private refuges. The Audubon Society sponsors many sanctuaries, including South Bird Island, located at Laguna Madre southeast of Flour Bluff, one of two wintering grounds in the United States for the white pelican; Second-Chain Islands, between San Antonio and Mesquite bays in Calhoun County; Green Island, located at Laguna Madre at the mouth of the Arroyo Colorado; Lydia Ann Island, north of Port Aransas; and Swan Island, located at Copano Bay near Rockport. The Rob and Bessie Welder Wildlife Foundation and Refuge, another private refuge, is located northeast of Sinton in San Patricio County and contains a great variety of birds and nonmigratory wildlife.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Wildlife Areas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wildlife-areas.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 13, 2020