South Pasture Research Facility
The 252-acre research facility, located approximately 11 miles southwest of Kingsville, Texas, is owned by Texas A&M University-Kingsville and managed by the Department of Animal and Wildlife Science and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. The property, once deeded to the University by the King Ranch, provides outdoor educational opportunities for local students and serves as a demonstration site of semi-arid land management for land stewards. To date, South Pasture has served over 50 researchers and students and has facilitated over 100 research projects for both undergraduate and graduate students primarily in the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences under Dick & Mary Lewis Kleberg College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences.
Over the past 25 years, the South Pasture Research Facility has served as a living laboratory for undergraduate and graduate students to learn through “hands-on” experience. Several graduate projects have utilized South Pasture to study wildlife nutrition, behavior and disease related topics. A captive deer herd, started in the mid 1980’s has provided researchers the opportunity to study white-tailed deer in a semi-natural, controlled environment. This scenario has allowed numerous studies on foraging behavior, nutrition, and diet. During the 1980’s, research conducted at South Pasture included species such as nilgai, Attwater’s prairie chicken, and white-tailed deer. Research during the 1990’s focused mostly on foraging and nutrition of white-tailed deer, but also included disease related studies with grey foxes and coyotes, and behavior studies with woodrats. Recently, research efforts have included behavior studies with feral hogs.
During the Spring 2000, under the guidance of Dr. Fidel Hernández, a management plan was developed by students of a graduate-level habitat management class with the idea of turning South Pasture into a “demonstration area” for field lectures, field trips, and management activities for both local and visiting university students, as well as land stewards. A grant, given by the International Aridlands Consortium during the Fall 2000, allowed the implementation of habitat treatment demonstration plots, wildlife management areas, and a nature trail by members of various undergraduate and graduate classes over the last 10 years. The South Pasture Research Facility has been used as a demonstration site for a wide diversity of visitors including landowners, state and federal agency personnel, and students from Mexican universities. The demonstration areas of the South Pasture Research Facility allow current and future students the opportunity to evaluate various habitat management strategies, such as burning, chemical, and mechanical treatments and their subsequent effects on wildlife.
Existing facilities on the property include a 17-acre captive facility and rotunda, built in 1982, with 12 individual, high-fenced pens where controlled studies can be implemented. Additionally, the mesquite dominated brushland provides ample opportunity for wildlife foraging and behavior projects and habitat management studies.
Funding provided by the International Aridlands Consortium and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute supported the renovation of the perimeter fence. The research facility is now a secure, high-fenced facility designed to still permit wildlife movement into and out of the area. It contains a two-acre overflow pond (from Escondido Lake, located on the King Ranch) situated on the southwest side of the property. The Escondido Creek runs diagonally northwest to southeast throughout the entire pasture providing an intermittent water source for existing wildlife in the area.