The Legendary Camels of Camp Verde, Texas

Nestled snugly in the Texas Hill Country, between Kerrville and the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera, is the delightful Camp Verde Store and Restaurant.

Today, near our home, Dodie and I enjoy passing through historical Bandera Pass to see bison, zebra and exotic wildlife on our way to dine at the site of the old fort, situated on Camp Verde Creek.

Known far and wide as Old Camp Verde, it was here, on July 8, 1856, the noted camel post was established by the U.S. government.

War Department records explained the camp was located “On the north bank of Rio Verde, or Verde Creek, a branch of the Guadalupe River, half a mile west of old Johnson Road, leading from San Antonio to Fort Terret; about four miles from Fort Ives; about 55 miles, direct course, northwest of San Antonio, but about 65 miles leading from San Antonio, through Fredericksburg to Forts Mason, McCavett, and Concho.”

When the camels first arrived from overseas, they entered in Indianola, Texas. The herd was driven to San Antonio grazing along the route, in about 14 days.

They were kept in the “headwaters of San Pedro” creek for a few days and then moved out to the ranch of Major Howard on the Medina River, twelve miles from San Antonio, where they were kept until they moved to their permanent home in Camp Verde on August 26 and 27, 1856.

Old Spanish maps identified this as “Verde Arroyo” (Green Creek). Before the thirty-three camels arrived in 1856, a sketch had been drawn of an Eastern caravansary in Asia Minor. This drawing was used to construct a detailed reproduction at Camp Verde.

The camels were used to transport supplies and dispatched to Forts Martin Scott, Concho, Griffen, Phantom Hill, Inge, Clark, Lancaster, Hudson, Stockton, Davis, Quitman, Bliss and other forts in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

What was formerly the officers’ barracks is where the store and restaurant is. On March 26, 1910, the headquarters abode was destroyed by fire, which took the life of Tom Blair.

The camp was continuously garrisoned until March 7, 1861, when U.S. troops surrendered the post to the Confederates, and withdrew. After the Civil War, the post was reoccupied by Federal troops on November 30, 1866, and finally abandoned on November 30, 1869.

It was rebuilt by W.H. Bonnell as an exact replica using the stone structure that survived the fire.

History shows that camels roamed the Bandera hills and many pioneers in this area actually herded them.

🔹Amasa Clark, who died at his home near Bandera at age 102, herded camels. Among his possessions was a pair of pillows made from camel’s hair, which he sheared from the animals he tended.

🔹Jim Walker, who died in 1945, owned a bell worn by the lead camel at his time working there during the Civil War.

🔹Andy Jones, a pioneer citizen of Bandera who died in the mid 1940s, often saw droves of camels miles away from the old fort. When Camp Verde was handed back to the Federal Government after the Civil War, the original 32 camels had grown to a herd of over 100, under the care of the Confederate troops.

“When I was a boy on my father’s ranch, the government kept a lot of camels at Camp Verde,” Jones said. One day we hobbled three of our horses and turned them loose near the house, and fourteen of those old camels came lumbering along.”

“The horses took fright at the sight of them, and we did not see those horses for many days,” he continued. “My brother and I penned the camels, all of them being gentle except for one.”

“We roped the wild one, but never wanted to rope another,” he recalled. “For the old humpbacked villain slobbered all over us, and the slobber made us deathly sick. However, we had a jolly time with those camels, when we got rid of the foul, sickening slobber, and we often rode broncos and wild steers, we rode camels too…They could easily travel one hundred miles a day. The Indians seemed to be afraid of the camels, and of course never attempted to steal any of them.”

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Wild Black Bear Sightings Increasing in Texas

Recent sightings of black bears in the western parts of the Texas Hill Country could indicate the dry hot conditions in the Lone Star State are causing wildlife to venture into wider migration patterns.

From April through June, rare bear sightings have occurred near Carta Valley, Barksdale, Camp Wood, west of Ingram, south of Tarpley, Asherton, Alpine, Fort Davis and Mount Livermore.

On June 20th, a black bear was sighted swimming near the shoreline of Lake Amistad.

In the past year, bears have also been observed not only on the lake, but near Fort Stockton, north of Laredo, and in nearby regions.

While no one is sure how many bears currently live in Texas, experts agree that wildfires in Mexico, as well as drought conditions in other regions, have likely caused bears to migrate to new areas, including many parts of Texas.

Michael Janis, Trans-Pecos district leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), said dry conditions are likely sending bears looking for food. Breeding season also moved bears around.

The conservation efforts in bordering states over the last 20 years have also led to bears crossing back into Texas, especially during the summer mating season, according to TPWD.

Most of these animals wandering further into Texas are young, transient males in search of food and other bears. Males have much larger home ranges than females, and sub-adults can travel many miles to set up a new one.

Click to read bear tips for hunters, campers, hikers and homeowners

To those not aware of bears, some people become quite alarmed when they hear about sightings. However, out of approximately 36,000 people in the U.S. who are bitten annually by wildlife, black bears rank 5th behind rodents, venomous snakes, skunks, and foxes respectively.

In West Texas where Big Bend National Park (BBNP) has had more than 6,592 bear/human encounters since 1950, only 2.5 percent of those encounters were classified as aggressive interactions. Most of those occurred when the bear made contact with property containing human food. There has never been a black bear attack recorded in BBNP.

When Border Patrol agents discovered a young black bear in a tree in north Laredo last July, it likely came from Mexico, noted Eric Garza, wildlife biologist with TPWD.

Not long after,  residents of SpinTech – Myers Ranch caught a strange image on a game camera. Maybe it was an overgrown wild hog, but most believe it was a bear:

TPWD is recording more road kills of black bears between Laredo and Zapata over the decade. Garza notes they were likely males dispersing from Mexico also.

“Zapata itself probably hasn’t seen any historic sightings simply because of the lake. It’s hard for them to swim across the lake, especially when it’s up,” said Garza. “This particular animal probably came across where the water is a lot lower. Not where it’s a lake but where it’s still a river.”

In a 2011 Starr County encounter, Garza notes the bear became habituated to residents, picking up scraps of food and eating out of trash cans. In those instances the bears need to be trapped and relocated away from humans, pet food and trash.

“The first thing we need to know is any conflicts between black bears and people can be avoided very, very easily,” Garza explained. “And the easiest way to avoid any conflicts is to make sure and not leave trash out for bears to get into, and really any wildlife to get into. Don’t leave pet food out. Bring that in and secure it. Don’t leave small livestock animals like rabbits or poultry.”

Late 2021 and early 2022, TPWD biologists were monitoring multiple black bear sightings near the North Double Diamond community south of Alpine.

It is believed the bear may displaying behavior typical of hyperphagia (excessive or extreme hunger). Reports suggested that the bear were attracted to and searching for easily accessible food sources (i.e. pet food, wildlife feeders, livestock feed, etc.). 

In June, 2021, Big Bend National Park camper Valerie King took photos of a black bear in the Basin Campground:

TPWD indicates anyone encountering a black bear in a camping area should immediately deploy aversive conditioning by creating loud noises (shout, handclap, air horns, car alarm, sirens, or bang pots and pans) to startle the bear. Once the bear leaves, report the encounter to your District Biologist or TPWD Game Warden.

It is critical that the Department is able to monitor any on-going situations with full extent of known black bear encounters. 

In the 1800s, black bear lived through every ecosystem in Texas but has long been hunted down and migrated away from settlements and eventually, cities. In 2009, a black bear that wandered onto a Mernard County (Central Texas) cattle ranch was the first ever confirmed in this century in that part of the state, according to Capt. Alan Teague, a TPWD game warden.

Click to read bear tips for hunters, campers, hikers and homeowners

A Liberty County judge reputedly slaughtered 200 bears in the late 19th century, a pursuit that earned Lewis Hightower the handle “the Bear-Hunting Judge,” according to the Handbook of Texas Online.

“I practice law for recreation,” Hightower would say, “and hunt bear for a livin’.”

By the 1950s, black bears were eradicated from Texas, experts say.

The state made bear hunting illegal in 1983. That decade, they began crossing from northern Mexico into the southern reaches of West Texas.

For the past 20 years, a small population has bred there, mostly in the region’s rugged mountains. Today, some biologists believe there may be as many as 100.

But bears in Texas recently have been on the move, staging an unprecedented return to regions such as the Edwards Plateau, Piney Woods and South Texas Plains, according to Nathan Garner, another TPWD biologist.

The True Story of Smokey the Bear

Texas lists the black bear as threatened. The penalty for shooting one is a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of $500, plus a civil restitution of $11,907.50.

One of the most bizzare encounters was in 2017, when a black bear was sighted in a neighborhood between New Braunfels and Spring Branch. The alleged black bear, weighing as much as 350 lbs., ran in front of a vehicle in the early morning hours.

According to TPWD, there were 61 Black Bear sightings in 14 counties in 2018-2019. State mammologist Jonah Evans said sightings tend to increase in the fall because the bears are foraging food and trying “fatten up” before hibernating for the winter.

Transient bears from New Mexico are also occasionally reported in the Panhandle counties of Dallam, Hartley and Oldham, according to TPWD district leader Brad Simpson.

bear
The communities south of Alpine, Texas are on a Neighborhood Bear Watch. (courtesy: Texas Parks and Wildlife – Trans-Pecos Wildlife District)

A study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management documents 63 people killed in 59 incidents by non-captive black bears between 1900-2009.

Of special note is this quote:

“We judged that the bear involved acted as a predator in 88 percent of fatal incidents. Adult or subadult male bears were involved in 92 percent of fatal predatory incidents, reflecting biological and behavioral differences between male and female bears. That most fatal black bear attacks were predatory and were carried out by one bear shows that females with young are not the most dangerous black bears.”

🔹Black bears mate during the months of June and July. This might account for some of the sightings in the Texas Hill Country, as bears travel to find a mate during the summer months.

🔹State biologists believe that female black bears in Texas hibernate while males do not.

🔹The young are born in January or February, while the mother is “hibernating.” She normally gives birth to two-to-three cubs every two years.

LOUISIANA MIGRATION

🔹Louisiana Black Bear sightings have been increasing in recent years so it’s possible they are making a comeback in Eastern Texas too.

🔹Louisiana is home to the Louisiana Black Bear, a subspecies of of the American Black Bear. There’s an estimated 750-1000 bears living in the state, but they can also be found in the neighboring states of Texas, Mississippi, and possibly even Southern Arkansas.

🔹Aside from the Louisiana Bear, both the Mexican Black Bear and the New Mexico Black Bear are found in western Texas in low numbers and are also on the state endangered species list.

2018-2021 sightings

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NEW MEXICO MIGRATION

🔹The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish estimates that there are approximately 5,000-6,000 Black Bears living in all 14.6 million forested acres of New Mexico. There have been strict hunting regulations in place since 1927 in the state to help control the population of Black Bears in the state.

🔹In the early 20th century Grizzly Bears were common in the state, but now only the American Black Bear remain. They are also the state animal of New Mexico.

ARKANSAS MIGRATION

🔹Black Bears in Arkansas thrive in three places; the Ozark Highlands area, the Ouachita National Forest, and the lower White River basin. Pre-settlement there was thought to be over 50,000 bears in Arkansas, but dwindled down to just 50 bears in the 1930s. Thanks to conservation efforts and the importation of Black Bears from other areas, Arkansas is believed to have over 5,000 Black Bears now.

CAN INJURE WHEN PROVOKED

“The Black Bear is a stocky, large animal, one of the largest mammals in North America. Adults reach a length of 5 to 6 feet, height at the shoulder of 2 to 3 feet, and weigh 200-300 pounds,” notes information from Texas Park and Wildlife Department. “Although called a ‘black’ bear, colors can range from black to the occasional cinnamon brown. Front claws are generally longer than hind claws. The fur is long and coarse. Although appealing and generally harmless, Black Bears can injure humans when provoked and should be treated with caution.”

At least two subspecies of Black Bear are thought to occur in Texas: the Mexican Black Bear and the New Mexico Black Bear. Both are found in West Texas in desert scrub or woodland habitats within scattered mountain ranges, predominantly the Chisos and Guadalupe Mountains. Both subspecies are state-listed as endangered in Texas.

Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Wildlife Commission’s black bear and furbearer biologist, offers some advice about how to co-exist with black bears.

“Most bears that wander into a residential area will quickly retreat to their natural habitat, particularly if no food source is around,” Olfenbuttel said. “Bears have adapted to living near people; now it’s up to us to adapt to living near bears.”

BearWise has six Basics the public can use to prevent potential conflicts and live responsibly with bears:

• Never feed or approach a bear. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs.

• Secure food, garbage and recycling. Place trash outside as late as possible on the morning of trash pick-up — not the night before.

• Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birdseed, other grains and hummingbird feeders have high calorie content making them very attractive to bears.

• Never leave pet food outdoors.

• Clean and store grills.

• Alert neighbors to bear activity.

“While these young bears (usually May-August), typically males, may appear to be wandering aimlessly around, they are not necessarily lost,” Olfenbuttel said. “Most are simply exploring their new surroundings and will move on, particularly if they are left alone and there is no food around.”

Unlike brown bears, black bears are omnivorous creatures that rarely pose a threat to humans, pets, or livestock. Like any large mammal, however, humans must take steps to be aware and coexist with black bears.

Black bears diet is very much like a raccoon’s.

🔹Up to 80 percent of their diet is plant matter, and they often scavenge the rest from carcasses of dead animals.

🔹In many circumstances, they will hunt for insects and worms for the “meat based” part of their diet.

🔹They have been known to kill larger mammals and even livestock. This is occurs mostly during late spring and early summer, when bears become active after hibernating, and juveniles “leave home.” This is when food requirements are high, and bears will find the most nutritious food they can.

🔹If there is a lack of fruits, berries, and other plant matter, they may feed on other animals. 

Signs of black bears 

If you suspect bears in your area, pay careful attention to signs such as, tracks, scat, and territorial markings on trees. Although you may not see the animal, the evidence of their presence is usually clear. Take pictures of suspected bear sign using a ruler or other standard item for scale and send them to your local biologist for interpretation. 

Bear tracks stand out and are unlike any other you might encounter. Bears use their teeth and claws to mark trees or other surfaces to mark territory.

Black Bears of East Texas. Photos provided by the East Texas Black Bear Task Force.
Black Bears of East Texas. Photos provided by the East Texas Black Bear Task Force.Hardin County News

BEAR ENCOUNTERS

If you encounter a bear, TPWD offers this advice:

  • If a bear regularly visits your deer stand, scare it with rocks, a slingshot or air horn.
  • If you encounter a bear at close range, talk in a calm manner while backing away slowly. Do not make direct eye contact
  • Do not run. Running can trigger a bear’s chase instinct.
  • Stand your ground and raise your arms if a bear approaches you, making yourself appear larger. Yell at the bear to scare it off.
  • Fight back aggressively with anything available if attacked. Let bears know that you are not an easy prey. Do not play dead.

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How to Prepare for Bears in the Wild and at Home

HUNTERS, CAMPERS, HIKERS & HOMEOWNERS BEWARE

HUNTING

Hunters must remember that areas where they leave game animal remains will attract bears.

🔹This carrion is an easy meal that bears will eagerly consume.

🔹No matter what time of year you hunt, it is possible you could encounter a bear. Although contact is minimal in the winter, due to hibernation, be aware of your surroundings, especially in remote locations that may contain dens with sleeping bears.

🔹Bear-proofing wildlife feeding stations, such as deer feeders, can be difficult. Because hunters want game to have access to feed, but want to exclude black bears, the best options involve limiting access. Unless they are protected by an electric fence that deer can jump, gravity feeders should likely be removed in favor of spin-cast feeders.

🔹The base of spin-cast feeders should be at least 10 feet off the ground, and suspended from a cross-member that is least 4 feet from the post that supports it. Alternatively, hunters may electrify tripod spin-cast or gravity feeders, as well as providing electric fencing.

🔹Electric fencing may be permanent, similar to systems designed for livestock, or be portable, such as “back-country bear fencing” often used to secure camp sites. These portable systems are available from many outdoor companies. They are powered by D-cell batteries and use lightweight posts and wire. Whether suspending feed or electrifying, take care to prevent damage and the loss of feed.

CAMPING

🔹Campers should collect trash nightly and hang it high enough from a tree or other structure that a bear cannot reach it, or climb to it. Ten feet off ground level and four feet from any branches is generally sufficient.

🔹Sweet-smelling items such as perfumes, insect repellants, and candy attract bears.

🔹The smell of camp cooking can also attract bears. It is wise to locate your cooking site 100 yards from your sleeping area. Even the smell of food on clothes can attract bears, so change clothes before sleeping if you cook for the camp.

🔹Coolers of food are easy targets for bears—keep them inside vehicles or otherwise inaccessible. Although some coolers are rated as bear-safe, black bears will still cause damage trying to get in them.

HIKING

🔹Hikers should be noisy in areas where black bears are present.

🔹A startled bear is a dangerous bear, and will have the same reaction as any animal when frightened. Although they might flee, they might also display defensive behaviors such as bluff charges or teeth clacking. This is especially possible for a female with cubs.

Bear-proofing around the house 

Human-bear relations are most problematic around private homes.

🔹Bears, like raccoons, are opportunistic omnivores who enjoy human garbage. Homeowners should minimize exposing garbage to bears.

🔹A good first step is to secure trash cans with certified bear-proof covers. You can also contact your waste disposal company to request that they upgrade community dumpsters to be bear-proof.

🔹Minimize areas where you dump cooking grease, scraps, and reduce access to compost piles. 

Black Bears of East Texas. Photos provided by the East Texas Black Bear Task Force.

🔹Other food sources include bird feeders and other wildlife feed, fallen fruit from trees, pet foods, and barbecue pits.

🔹Wood piles attract rodents, which can be a food source. Bears will quickly assess these sources come to them for food. If you choose to feed wildlife in “bear country,” move the feed frequently to prevent bears from becoming habituated to one area. 

🔹It may be surprising, but a closed door, high window, or low wall often will not deter bears. Livestock and pet feed stored in outbuildings are easy, high-energy sources of nutrition for black bears. 

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VISIT BANDERA, TEXAS

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Expert Observations About Our Moon

Always fascinated by the Moon—perhaps because being a Baby Boomer, tales from my Chickasaw-Choctaw great grandmother Margaret Ralph-Morgan and being around during the early days of manned American space exploration–were influences.

We never took the Moon for granted. Not much in my experiences matched the 1969 landing on the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Meeting and interviewing Aldrin was definitely a highlight years later.

Jack Dennis with Buzz Aldrin

Here is a collection of interesting quotes from scientists, authors, researchers, NASA insiders and star-gazers relating to the enigmatic and often inexplicable nature of the moon:

Isaac Asimov,
American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University and Science Fiction writer. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time.

“We cannot help but come to the conclusion that the Moon by rights ought not to be there. The fact that it is, is one of the strokes of luck almost too good to accept… Small planets, such as Earth, with weak gravitational fields, might well lack satellites… … In general then, when a planet does have satellites, those satellites are much smaller than the planet itself. Therefore, even if the Earth has a satellite, there would be every reason to suspect… that at best it would be a tiny world, perhaps 30 miles in diameter. But that is not so. Earth not only has a satellite, but it is a giant satellite, 2160 miles in diameter. How is it then, that tiny Earth has one? Amazing.”

“The Moon, which has no atmosphere and no magnetic field, is basically a freak of nature”

Irwin Shapiro,
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

“The best possible explanation for the Moon is observational error – the Moon doesn’t exist.’

“The Moon is bigger than it should be, apparently older than it should be and much lighter in mass than it should be. It occupies an unlikely orbit and is so extraordinary that all existing explanations for its presence are fraught with difficulties are none of them could be considered remotely watertight.”

Christopher Knight and Alan Bulter
Book: Who Built the Moon?

The Moon has astonishing synchronicity with the Sun. When the Sun is at its lowest and weakest in mid-winter, the Moon is at its highest and brightest, and the reverse occurs in mid-summer. Both set at the same point on the horizon at the equinoxes and at the opposite point at the solstices. What are the chances that the Moon would naturally find an orbit so perfect that it would cover the Sun at an eclipse and appear from Earth to be the same size? What are chances that the alignments would be so perfect at the equinoxes and solstices?

Farouk El Baz,
NASA

“If water vapour is coming from the Moon’s interior is this serious. It means that there is a drastic distinction between the different phases of the lunar interior – that the interior is quite different from what we have seen on the surface.”

Mikhail Vasin, Alexander Shcherbakov,
Societ Academy of Sciences, 1970.

“Is the moon a creation of an alien intelligence?”

Dr Harold Urey,
Nobel Prize for Chemistry

“I’m terribly puzzled by the rocks from the Moon and in particular of their titanium content.”

Dr S Ross Taylor,
Geochemist of lunar chemical analysis,

Said the problem was that maria plains the size of Texas had to be covered with melted rock containing fluid titanium. He said you would not expect titanium ever to be hot enough to do that, even on Earth, and no one has ever suggested that the Moon was hotter than the Earth.

“What could distribute titanium in this way? Highly advanced technology developed and operated by entities that are immensely more technologically advance than humans.”

Dr. Gordon MacDonald,
NASA

“it would seem that the Moon is more like a hollow than a homogenous sphere’. He surmised that the data must have been wrong – but it wasn’t.”

Carl Sagan,
Cosmologist,

“A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object.”

Dr. Sean C Solomon,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The Lunar Orbiter experiments had vastly improved knowledge of the Moon’s gravitational field and indicated the frightening possibility that the Moon might be hollow.”

University of Arizona Lon Hood
“We knew that the Moon’s core was small, but we didn’t know it was this small… This really does add weight to the idea that the Moon’s origin is unique, unlike any other terrestrial body.”

NASA scientists
The Apollo 12 mission to the Moon in November 1969 set up seismometers and then intentionally crashed the Lunar Module causing an impact equivalent to one ton of TNT. The shockwaves built up for eight minutes, and NASA scientists said the Moon ‘rang like a bell.

Maurice Ewing,
American geophysicist and oceanographer

“As for the meaning of it, I’d rather not make an interpretation right now, but it is as though someone had struck a bell, say, in the belfry of a church, a single blow and found that the reverberation from it continued for 30 minutes.”

Ken Johnson,
Supervisor of the Data and Photo Control department during the Apollo missions

“The Moon not only rang like a bell, but the whole Moon wobbled in such a precise way that it was almost as though it had gigantic hydraulic damper struts inside it.”

Moon rocks have been found to contain processed metals, including brass and mica, and the elements Uranium 236 and Neptunium 237 that have never been found to occur naturally.

Dr. D L Anderson,
Professor of geophysics and director of the seismological laboratory,
California Institute of Technology


“The Moon is made inside out and that its inner and outer compositions should be the other way around.”

Dr. Robin Brett,
NASA Scientist

“It seems much easier to explain the nonexistence of the moon than its existence.”

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Can You Combat the Bone Debilitating Comeback of Rickets?

Because a generation of inactive children are not getting enough sunlight and not consuming enough milk and dairy products, we are experiencing a resurgence of rickets.

Researchers in countries like the United States, Canada, and Britain are worried. Rickets also persists as a major health problem in many less affluent countries.

Experts say hundreds of children are developing the disease every year and they fear many more go undiagnosed because doctors no longer recognize the symptoms.

Rickets is a condition that causes children to have soft, weak bones,” states the National Center for Advancing Transnational Sciences. “It usually occurs when children do not get enough vitamin D, which helps growing bones absorb important nutrients. Vitamin D comes from sunlight and food. Skin produces vitamin D in response to the sun’s rays. Some foods also contain vitamin D, including fortified dairy products and cereals, and some kinds of fish.”

🔹Rickets causes bone deformities—think bowlegs and knock-knees—as well as stunting growth, causing pain and muscle spasms, facilitating the easy fracture of bones, and delaying motor development. 

🔹Scoliosis, a spinal deformity affecting an estimated four million Americans, can also be a feature of rickets, along with malformations of the cranium or pelvis.

Synthetic vs. Natural

In an age when most vitamins on the market are synthetic, they are made by a chemical laboratory from coal tar and other chemical sources instead of from foods.

🔹They are imitations, man-made instead of being the product of plant or animal cells.

The question arises: Are synthetic imitations equal to the genuine, which cost far more?

Many so-called “experts” say that there is no difference. Notoriously, as we have especially seen lately, experts can usually be found to express any opinion commercial or government interests need to promote their products or keep people out of jail. This is a case for everyone to carefully examine the facts for themselves.

🔹National studies conservatively estimate that about 20 percent of Americans over one year of age are at risk of vitamin D “inadequacy” and another 5% are at risk of deficiency.

🔹Others have indicated vitamin D deficiency an “epidemic for all age groups.”

🔹In Europe, studies propose that anywhere from 20% to 60% of Europeans are deficient.

🔹Similar studies elsewhere have prompted researchers to describe vitamin D deficiency as a worldwide health problem.

These studies, along with the rising incidence of rickets and other conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency, have persuaded many clinicians to recommend across-the-board vitamin D3 supplementation, despite growing awareness that this approach may not be evidence-based.

A number of reasons have been put forth to explain rampant vitamin D deficiency and to justify the reliance on supplements,” says Claire Viadro PhD:  

🔹”The first has to do with the relatively limited number of naturally vitamin-D-rich foods, which, besides cod liver oil, include pastured egg yolks, fatty fish, and (to a lesser extent) organ meats and pastured lard.”

🔹”A second explanation concerns modern populations’ inadequate sun exposure, whether due to indoor lifestyles and fear of the sun, overuse of sunscreen, or phenomena such as reduced sunshine duration and increased cloud cover,” she continued.

🔹”Additional risk factors for vitamin D deficiency (and, therefore, rickets) include dark-skinned ethnicity, residence in northern latitudes, certain medications, and chronic kidney disease.”

🔹Some research suggests that exclusive breastfeeding can be a risk factor for the infant when the mother is vitamin-D-deficient. Vitamin D adequacy in the mother is also vitally important during pregnancy, determining “fetal skeletal development, tooth enamel formation, and perhaps general fetal growth and development.”

Key Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

The Resurgence of Cod Liver Oil

Today, we know vitamin D with cod liver oil produced using traditional, time-honored methods preserve powerhouse foods full array of nutrients.

Dr. Weston A. Price and other researchers of his generation understood the difference, conducting experiments showing that administering vitamin D in isolation produced harmful effects not seen with the administration of cod liver oil.

Then and now, those familiar with high-quality cod liver oil know through direct experience that vitamin D is most effective when it is allowed to work synergistically with vitamin A and all of cod liver oil’s other valuable constituents.

Additional Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed may not have been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness..

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

H-E-B Partners With Texas Parks and Wildlife to Conserve and Protect

As far as I can remember, H-E-B Food-Drugs, a San Antonio based company in Texas has consistently been a strong proponent and practitioner for the environment. I retired from this outstanding retailer in 2009 as head of their Facilities Management Division and saw first hand how they are regularly recognized for its commitment to environmental sustainability.

🔹In 2021, H-E-B recycled more than 636 million pounds of cardboard, plastics, office paper, food waste, metal, and truck tires.

🔹Among its endeavor to minimize waste in 2021, H-E-B recycled 54 million pounds of food into animal feed and compost and recycled 17.5 million pounds of plastic.

🔹That same year, H-E-B’s recycling efforts saved the equivalent of 11 million trees, 1.6 million barrels of oil, and enough energy to power more than 83,000 homes for an entire year.

As part of H-E-B’s Our Texas, Our Future mission, and with support from Field & Future by H-E-B brand products, the retailer is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and their efforts to conserve wildlife, habitats, and natural resources in Texas.

 - H-E-B Newsroom

H-E-B is a longtime partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, and the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability along with Field & Future by H-E-B will support efforts such as:

🔹coastal conservation along the Texas Gulf Coast,

🔹Black Bear restoration in West Texas,

🔹the establishment of Palo Pinto Mountains State Park in North Texas, the state’s newest state park expected to open in 2023.  

Field & Future by H-E-B, which the company launched last year, is an environmentally minded brand of household, personal care and baby products designed to be clean and green.

The brand is made with recycled or recyclable content, biodegradable formulas or plant-based ingredients, and without over 165 harsh chemicals. Currently, there are nearly 100 Field & Future by H-E-B products on shelf, including dish soap, body wash, bath tissue, baby diapers, as well as trash bags and bags for recyclables, which are made from up to 65 percent and 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic from H-E-B facilities, respectively.

“H-E-B is an iconic Texas company, and this new partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, our official non-profit partner, is incredibly exciting,” said Texas Parks and & Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith. “It’s fitting that the Field & Future line of products will benefit conservation projects across Texas, and we’re deeply grateful for this new partnership.”

 - H-E-B Newsroom

With Earth Day around the corner, H-E-B Partners (employees) across the state are committed to taking their own steps to beautify Texas. Leading up to and following Earth Day, Partners will volunteer at outdoor events, tree plantings and community cleanups. Many H-E-B stores across the state also will host in-store events to celebrate Earth Day with their customers and communities.

Throughout the year, H-E-B works to champion sustainability initiatives throughout its own operations and across the Lone Star State.

In 2021, H-E-B became part of How2Recycle, a program that places clear, easy-to-read labels on products to let customers know if the packaging can be recycled, which parts are recyclable, and importantly, how to prepare material for recycling to reduce contamination.

The How2Recycle labels are already on more than 1,700 H-E-B branded items, which include H-E-B, Hill Country Fare, H-E-B Select Ingredients, H-E-B Organics, and Central Market.

Furthering its commitment to supporting sustainable efforts within the community, H-E-B gifted $135,000 to support the creation of a community recycling center in Ingleside. Slated to open in the summer, this will be the city’s first ever recycling center, which will service several communities near the Gulf Coast town.

“We know H-E-B and our customers have a shared commitment in protecting the land, water and air of Texas for generations to come,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs. “As H-E-B works to reduce our packaging footprint and increase packaging recyclability, we also look for ways to support community access to recycling. We’re excited to partner with Keep Texas Beautiful and the City of Ingleside to make recycling available for the first time for 65,000 Texans.”  

H-E-B customers also can support sustainability efforts through its annual donation campaign that benefits EarthShare of Texas, a nonprofit that supports more than 70 respected conservation groups. From April 13 through May 24, customers can donate $1, $3 or $5 online at heb.com or in store at checkout, which will benefit the nonprofit organization. From the donation campaign, more than $1 million has gone to support the nonprofit.

Since 2012, H-E-B has contributed more than $20 million to over 500 environmental organizations in land and water conservation, habitat and coastal preservation, and community cleanups. This includes giving more than $2 million in grants to organizations such as Keep Texas BeautifulTexas Conservation Fund, and the Nature Conservancy in Texas.


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HEB FOOD DRUGS

Tent Camping Checklist for Couples by Clever Journeys

This is our go-to list for tent camping as a couple. It can be modified per trip –family, friends, ages, activities (toys, rafts, hunting, skiing, etc.).

We always have protection, a jack, spare, fix-a-flat, jumper cables, portable battery starter, small power unit with lights, stored energy, electricity, etc. in our vehicle.

No two people are the same when it comes to planning a camping trip. What is important to one person may not matter to another when it comes to camping gear. One of my sons prefers to go ultralight and another brings practically everything he can when they camp. As a family, we tend to bring more items. All this to say, there is no right or wrong answer to what you bring on your camping trip.

The Camp

🔹Tent (Coleman Sunbeam 7’×9′ 4-person) & accessories (stakes, bungi cords with hooks, rain roof, bottom footprint tarp)

🔹Mats (outside door, inside door)

🔹Sleeping bags

🔹Sleeping pads

🔹Pillows

🔹Electric extension cord

🔹Lighting: solar lights, head lamp, flashlights, lantern, extra batteries

🔹Camping chairs

Eating

🔹Cooler (We love our soft-sided 4-gallon capacity Kodi cooler from H-E-B Foods/Drugs)

🔹Camping utensils, plates, pans, cups

🔹Camping stove

🔹Can opener

🔹Charcoal &/or fire wood

🔹Insulated water bottles

🔹Matches

🔹Cutting board & knife

🔹Coffee maker

Hygiene

🔹Biodegradable wet wipes

🔹Shampoo & conditioner

🔹Hand sanitizer

🔹Towels & wash cloths

🔹Soap

🔹Deodorant

🔹Rash prevention/lotion

🔹Toothbrushes & toothpaste

🔹Lip balm

🔹Toilet paper

🔹Combs/brushes

🔹Shaving gear

Other

🔹First Aid kit

🔹Rx, prescriptions & supplements

🔹Campsite Reservation Copy

🔹Sunscreen & bug repellent

🔹Trash bags

🔹Duct tape

🔹Mallot

🔹Clothes pins & clothes line cord

🔹Rope

🔹Binoculars

🔹Dry bag (store electronics, etc in event of rain)

🔹Tool bag. Minimum: hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, multi-tool, folding shovel/saw, tin-snips, axe-hatchet, tent repair kit, tent pole repair sleeve

🔹Small fire extinguisher

🔹Emergency (solar/handcrank) weather radio

🔹Travel alarm clock

🔹Travel mirror

🔹GPS

🔹Cell phones

🔹Books, cards, games…

🔹Portable butane heater with extra filled tanks (in cold weather)

🔹Tent fan in warm weather. (We also have a portable “air cooler” we fill with ice cubes if it is too hot).

Clothing

🔹Bandana

🔹Flip flops or sandals

🔹Rain ponchos

🔹Swim/water/shower shoes

🔹Socks (wool or synthetic)

🔹Hiking boots/shoes, sneakers

🔹Hat

🔹Sunglasses

🔹Gloves

🔹Shirts, Jackets, Sleepwear, Pants, Shorts, Swimwear

🔹Underwear

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The True Story of Fire Fighting Smokey Bear

He is not Smokey ‘The’ Bear and Other Fun Facts

The start of World War II meant that many firefighters and other able-bodied men were deployed, leaving communities to manage wildfires themselves. .

The head of the Forest Service at that time, Lyle F. Watts, decided to attack the wildfire problem by educating the public about their role in fire prevention. Watts invited the Ad Council to join the Forest Service in this new ad campaign.Watts and team soon realized that they needed a symbol or character to represent their fire prevention campaign. A forest animal would be ideal.

The Disney Studios offered one of their characters to be the “face” of the fire prevention plan. The movie, Bambi, enjoyed widespread popularity at the time, so the deer Bambi represented the original ad campaign—but Disney’s licensing contract lasted just one year.

Seeing an overwhelmingly successful first year, Watts and his team chose a bear to replace Bambi.

Two decades before, on a July morning in 1922, a case of magnesium powder exploded in a warehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. The resulting fire was devasting and claimed the life of a heroic firefighter named “Smokey” Joe Martin.

On August 9, 1944, the first Smokey Bear poster appeared. The bear was named in honor of “Smokey” Joe, and his first piece of public service artwork depicted the animal in his iconic hat, dousing a fire with a bucket of water.

A historic Smokey the Bear poster

Artist Albert Staehle painted this first Smokey Bear poster.

The ‘50s and ‘60s brought Smokey’s “ABC” campaign. This was a national push to educate the public about wildfire prevention in three easy steps, and it was broadcast to American homes through radio and TV spots.

Smokey 2

It wasn’t long before more posters of Smokey appeared. The bear gained widespread popularity. Soon Smokey Bear was featured on everything from comic books to toys. He was an undisputed success.

A real Smokey Bear

In 1950, a wildfire burned in New Mexico’s Capitan Mountains. Firefighters there found a young bear cub clinging to a tree branch. Firefighters presumed the cub climbed the tree to escape the raging fire. The little bear was alive, but severely burned. Firefighters rescued the cub and aptly named him Smokey.

News of a real Smokey Bear soon spread across the country. When Smokey had sufficiently recovered from his ordeal, he was moved to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he continued to play a role in educating people about fire prevention.

To handle all of his fan mail–up to 13,000 letters a week–the U.S. Postal Service set up his own personal zip code, 20252, for his area in the zoo. The zip code was decommissioned in 1994, but fortunately brought back in honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday.

When the real Smokey Bear died, his body was taken back to the Capitan Mountains for burial in the State Historical Park.

Smokey carried his “only you can prevent forest fires” message into the early 2000s and placed the responsibility on us all to be careful around the campfire. Additionally, the shift in the use of “forest fires” to “wildfires” in Smokey’s messaging is present, as well.

Today, new Public Service Announcements to educate the public on different ways that wildfires are caused, including hot coals, dragging chains, and burning debris. Smokey’s wildfire prevention message was already resonating with audiences—now, they just needed actionable steps to take.

Today’s Smokey Bear

Other Smokey Bear facts

  • The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest-running Public Service Advertisement campaign in U.S. history.
  • In 1953, the Ideal Toy Company made a Smokey Bear doll. Included with the doll was a card that when mailed back gave children an official “Junior Forest Ranger” identification card. Within two years, over half a million kids had applied and received the unofficial honor.

  • Since its development in the 1940s, it’s estimated that the Smokey Bear ad campaign has reduced the number of acres lost to wildfires by 15.6 million annually.
  • Smokey does not have a middle name. (It’s Smokey Bear. Not Smokey “The” Bear.) A song about the forest icon added “The” to his name in order to make the lyrics and melody sync better. 

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The Dolphin Cried, Then Enzo Dived

The famous Italian diver Enzo Mallorca recalled “when I first started thinking about setting freediving records, the medical experts kept saying that a man could not stay alive diving deeper than 165ft [50m] because his lungs would not make it.”

“Doctors were creating barriers for us and I admit that at the time it worried me,” he admitted. “Even Aristotle claimed a man could dive no deeper than 30 ft.”

In September 1960, he successfully descended to a depth of 45m, in the process setting the first of 17 wworld records in the variable buoyancy category.

Two months later, he extended this to 49m.

Enzo Mallorca died at 86 in 2016.

In August 1961 he set a new record of 50m in the “constant weight” category, in which there are no additional buoyancy aids and the diver must descend and ascend with their own fin power. The Italian media dubbed him Lord of the Abysses.

Years later, Enzo dove into the sea of Syracuse and was talking to his daughter Rosanna who was aboard the boat. Ready to go in, he felt something slightly hit his back.

He turned and saw a dolphin. Then he realized that the dolphin did not want to play but to express something.

The animal dove and Enzo followed.

At a depth of about 12 meters, trapped in an abandoned net, there was another dolphin. Enzo quickly asked his daughter to grab the diving knives. Soon, the two of them managed to free the dolphin, which, at the end of the ordeal, emerged, issued an “almost human cry” (describes Enzo).

(A dolphin can stay under water for up to 10 minutes, then it drowns.)

The released dolphin was helped to the surface by Enzo, Rosanna and the other dolphin. That’s when the surprise came: she was pregnant!

The male circled them, and then stopped in front of Enzo, touched his cheek (like a kiss), in a gesture of gratitude and then they both swam off.

Enzo Mallorca once said, “Until man learns to respect and speak to the animal world, he can never know his true role on Earth.”

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The Real Grizzly Adams, Mountain Man


John Capen Adams [1812-1860] became so famous for his love of grizzly bears, he would go down in history simply as “Grizzly Adams.”

“Grizzly Adams,” in the 1970s, was the title of both a popular motion picture and NBC TV series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.”

On the television, Dan Haggerty played the role of Grizzly Adams” and established new Thursday night record-ratings for the network. Even so, today few people realize there was a real “Grizzly Adams” who migrated to the Sierra Nevada mountains to escape the confines of civilization after participating in the great California Gold Rush.

Dan Haggerty as Grizzly Adams

In 2018, Adventure Outdoors Magazine recognized Grizzly Adams as one of the three greatest American outdoorsmen of all time alongside Buffalo Bill Cody and Ernest Hemingway.

Adams challenged both conventional norms and untamed nature, first by turning his back on a greed-driven society born from the California Gold Rush, and then by blazing a trail into the wildest parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

There, he built a cabin home in the wilderness, made friends with nearby Native American tribes. Of special note, he found companions among some of nature’s untamed beasts, that especially featured his prized grizzly bears.

Although a California Mountain Man, he was actually born in Boston in 1812. As a young man he fled into the wilderness in search of adventure. To earn money he would trap all kinds of animals and sell them to zoos. It was here he learned to survive in the wilderness and get close to animals.

When he attempted to train a Bengal tiger in a local zoo, he was mauled almost to death. This did not deter him. When the California gold rush kicked off, Adams headed for California himself. Finding no luck as a gold miner, he took to the wilderness, living the life of a reclusive mountain man.

“And it was in the mountains that I successfully worked out for myself the great problem which other men have to work out, each in his own way, before they say that they live.”

– Grizzly Adams (1812-1860)

Grizzly Adams cared for the California grizzly bear, and studied their behavior. He learned to approach and even tame them. He even had a pet Grizzly bear who he stole from a bear den when it was just a pup. Called “Benjamin Franklin,” the bear saved Adams life on numerous occasions.

Another bear Adams named “Samson” was confirmed by the California State Historical Society to be the bear image on the state’s flag.

It was rendered from an 1855 painting done by famous Gold Rush artist, Charles Nahl, who came to know Grizzly Adams well in the 1850s.

With his familiarity, Grizzly Adams captured numerous bears over the years, selling them to zoos, circuses and private collectors. On occasion he would perform in the circus with them.

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10 Clever Facts We Learned at WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri

We passed up going to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and I instantly regretted it after we left.

Driving away toward the Great Smokies National Park, I suddenly remembered a Facebook post from a friend, Janie Buys, a few years ago mentioning the attraction. It seems she had doubts about visiting it with husband Phil and son Phil Jr., but after she went in, it didn’t take her long to enjoy it.

A couple of weeks later into our month long roadtrip, Dodie and I were pleasantly surprised to see a WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri.

Dodie navigating through a kaleidoscope tunnel.

Dodie, a retired nurse, has always enjoyed science and the attraction bills itself as “a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages.”

The building is enticing enough to spur anyone’s interest. It looks like a giant four story venue turned upside down. As soon as we walked in, the floor was the ceiling and the ceiling was the floor.

The WonderWorks entrance.

It was fun to experience the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Some chose to make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab.

I enjoyed the NASA Space area but we elected not to get strapped into the Astronaut Training Gyro to “experience zero gravity.” We also passed lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails.

Astronaut Jack.

Here’s the Top 10 Things I Learned at WonderWorks:

1. You can’t see your ears without a mirror.

2. You can’t count your hair.

3. You can’t breath through your nose with your tounge out.

4. You just tried No. 3.

6. When you tried No. 3 you realized that it is possible, but you looked like a dog.

7. You are smiling right now, because you were fooled.

8. You skipped No. 5.

9. You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.

10. Share this with your friends so they can have fun too.

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Wildlife Vaccine Airdrops to Combat Rabies Resume Along Texas Border

The Texas Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) Oral Rabies Vaccination Program resumes flights Jan. 12 from Zapata, Texas. This successful program, now in its 28th year, led to the elimination of the domestic dog-coyote and the Texas fox rabies virus variants from the state.

DSHS will utilize aircraft from Dynamic Aviation Group, Inc. and a Texas Wildlife Services helicopter to airdrop more than 1.17 million baits containing rabies vaccine in 19 counties along the southern Texas border. The project is slated to run for two weeks. Local and regional public health personnel will commence ground distribution of additional vaccine baits in South Texas and El Paso County in late January.

🔹The first ORVP in southern Texas was initiated in 1995 following an outbreak caused by a domestic dog/coyote variant of the rabies virus, while a gray fox rabies outbreak occurring in West-Central Texas led to an ORVP the following year.

🔹Results were immediate. Texas experienced 122 cases of the dog/coyote rabies variant in 1994, the year before the first vaccine drop, but then recorded zero cases by 2000.

🔹Only two cases have been documented since then – one in 2001 and one in 2004. Both of those cases occurred within a mile of the Rio Grande River, which is why DSHS concentrates the baits in that area to help vaccinate animals that may enter the country across the southern border.

“The annual rabies vaccine/bait distribution along the border of Texas and Mexico is critical for the protection of humans, pets and livestock in Texas,” said Dr. Susan Rollo, ORVP director. “The maintenance distribution levels help keep the U.S. free of the canine strain.”

The vaccine baits to be dropped are small, plastic packets dipped in fish oil and coated with fishmeal crumbles to attract coyotes, gray foxes and other wild carnivores. Extensive research across a wide variety of species has proven the vaccine to be safe; only non-infectious portions of the rabies virus are used. Neither humans nor animals are in danger of developing rabies if they are exposed to the vaccine.

🔹Rabies typically spreads through the bite of an infected animal. If a person or animal exhibits symptoms of rabies, it is nearly always fatal.

🔹Immunizing domestic animals like pets is critical to help stop the spread of the disease and protect the animals and their owners.

🔹Skunks and bats today are the most significant sources of rabies in Texas.

Airdrop operations will be launched from Zapata County Airport, Del Rio International Airport and Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport.

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