Research on Livestock/Wildlife Relationships has been conducted at the CKWRI since the very beginning of the institute because of the importance of cattle in ranching operations in south Texas. In 2001, Dr. Poncho Ortega joined the institute and has been leading the Livestock/Wildlife Relationships program since then. Cattle grazing and the interaction of wildlife and cattle in the habitat is one of the main components of the program. Dr. Ortega has been involved in grazing research since 1985 and his work on this topic has provided the experience to work in numerous consulting assignments in the United States and Mexico. Another important component of the program is related to cattle/wildlife diseases, domestic animals coexisting with wildlife in the habitat share vectors and disease agents that can affect the productivity of both.
Students in Dr. Ortega's grazing management courses, graduate and undergraduate levels, are exposed to real life situations learning the basics for making decisions to accomplish specific objectives in ranching operations. Field trips to university properties to conduct on site evaluations and collect data needed to make grazing management decisions provide the students with hands on valuable experience.
The Livestock/Wildlife Relationships Program public outreach is an important component of the program. Dr. Ortega teaches the Richard Mifflin Kleberg, Jr. Family Lectureship on Grazing Management for students, land managers, and ranchers from the United States, Mexico, and South America. Since 2010 up to 35 students participate in this training. Additionally, since 2009, Dr. Ortega teaches the NRCS-USDA Grazing Management Lectureship where up to 35 NRCS employees from Texas participate in the training.