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Field Notes: Good news for pelicans, alligators on the coast

Staff Writer
Austin 360

In less than 40 years, brown pelicans have gone from endangered to recovered.

That's good news for the birds and for those of us who enjoy seeing them on our trips to the Texas Gulf Coast.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife officials, the pelicans have established 6,000 breeding pairs in Texas. Federal officials have decided their populations are strong enough to remove them from the endangered list, and TPWD commissioners this week decided to go along with the feds.

And while they were talking about once endangered animals, commissioners discussed alligators, which have come so far that now we have rules for nuisance alligator removal. In 2007, biologists counted 150,000 alligators in just three Texas counties.

The state receives an average of 1,100 complains about nuisance alligators and is rewriting rules to make it easier for private contractors to remove those problem animals and get their money back for their trouble.

The nuisance control hunters will have to be trained by TPWD on proper procedures and handling but they'll be able to act faster and keep the reptiles from becoming problems in pools and backyards.

— Mike Leggett

Be part of Austin's bike council and get glimpse of city's future

Austin's Bicycle Advisory Council is looking for four new standing members and six alternates.

The council advises the City of Austin on cycling issues. Members review and make recommendations on city planning documents and funding priorities for bicycle and pedestrian programs. They also provide bicycle information and recommendations to the Urban Transportation Commission. (Full disclosure: My husband currently is a member of the council).

For application information, contact Nadia M. Barrera, Bicycle/Pedestrian Project Coordinator for the City of Austin, at 974-7142 or

Applications are due Thursday.

— Pam LeBlanc

Marathon offers more than race for high school athletes

The LiveStrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon will award two $5,000 college scholarships to student athletes.

One male and one female cross-country or track student athlete from the Austin area will be chosen based on academic performance, leadership skills and commitment to community service.

Winners will be picked in May.

Recipients will be encouraged to volunteer during their freshman year of college with one of the nonprofit organizations associated with "26 Miles for 26 Charities," a philanthropy program of the marathon.

Applications must include a copy of the applicant's high school transcript and a coach's letter of recommendation. All applications must be postmarked by March 1.

For applications and more information go to

That marathon, by the way? It's scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 19 in downtown Austin. For more information, go here:

— P.L.


Go bird-watching vicariously

As always, the Travis Audubon Society has a month filled with field trips and classes. For November events, go to The group's next general meeting will be 6:30 p.m. Nov. 17, featuring guest speaker Mikael Behrens on "Birding on Broadmeade." Behrens will discuss and show photos of the birds and other wildlife he's encountered on field trips in his Northwest Austin neighborhood since 2004. The meeting will be held in the Fellowship Hall of Westminster Presbyterian Church, 3208 Exposition Blvd. You can learn more about Behrens' discoveries on his blog,