To determine what wildlife co-exists in this park, Staff are working with an expert to identify tracks on tracking boards placed strategically in the park. Additionally, San Antonio Audubon Society volunteers are conducting bird surveys.
Our responsibility to help protect natural resources within the park includes the conservation of wildlife. Protection and restoration of habitat is the primary means to achieve this goal. Of Phil Hardberger Park's total acreage, 75 % will remain untouched by park development. Introduction of additional native plant species will be an ongoing project, including expansion of the savanna.
Wildlife can become problematic in urban areas. Almost always this is a result of human activities. One goal of Phil Hardberger Park is to provide public environmental education and information on how people can reduce the potential for creating wildlife problems. Phil Hardberger Park is reasonably diverse in existing wildlife species. A general wildlife survey of Phil Hardberger Park was conducted in late 2007.
Tests were conducted September 22 through October 7, 2007. The survey consisted of the following types of data collection:
- Observation of Dens, Foraging, Scat and Tracks – All Field Days
- Collection of Bones & Antlers – All Field Days
- Visual Sightings or Hearing Calls of Species – All Field Days
- Trapping for small mammals-- Total of 3 Nights (10 Live Sherman Box Traps, 3 medium havahart traps and 2 multiple mouse traps)
- Spotlight Counts at Night – Total of 7 Nights
- Remote Photography – 3 Nights – 1 camera
Wildlife found can be divided into three main groups: mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Fish were not included because there is no permanent water in Phil Hardberger Park. Birds were not included in this survey as they are in a separate survey for bird species only, however Bexar Audubon has been conducting bird surveys since 2008. A bird checklist will be produced in the future. Studies are on-going with St. Mary’s University to track mammal diversity.
Butterfly surveys are also conducted.
The survey resulted in evidence of the following mammal species: nine-banded armadillo, Virginia opossum, coyote, ringtail cat, badger, raccoon, squirrels (rock squirrel & fox squirrel), eastern cottontail rabbits and white-tailed deer.
Of these species, only one, the American badger has not been visually observed or skull bones found for it at the site. Dens were the only evidence for the presence of badgers. These dens have very large mounds of dirt in front of them and elliptical openings. Both are traits of badger dens. Another badger denning habit is to dig several dens in close proximity to one another. This is often done initially to catch prey species. Badgers may move every 2 to 3 days in warm weather.
The most numerous mammals in the park appear to be coyotes, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, ring-tailed cats and raccoons. All of these animals adapt very well to urban environments.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Lizards are common in Phil Hardberger Park. The Texas Spiny Lizard was the most frequently encountered lizard. The Rosebelly Lizard is not a common lizard but was found and photographed in the park. One day was devoted to turning over logs, looking under rocks, old boards and trash that might harbor snakes. Only one snake was found, the Texas Blind Snake. It is a very small but common non-poisonous snake. No rattlesnakes or other poisonous snakes were observed in all the days spent at the site. It was noted that the weather was hot and dry during the period of the survey and while it would favor lizards, many other reptiles and amphibians may have been less active. It is hoped wetter weather may bring out more species. Many reptiles and amphibians in Texas are active year round except during periods of intense cold.