Wildlife Day in Alpine is a partnership between the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) and Visit Alpine, an opportunity to celebrate and learn about the creatures with whom we share the beautiful desert mountain landscape of the Big Bend region.
Here’s a recent podcast episode about the event with interviews of BRI staff and researchers:
Wildlife Day in Alpine offers a full day of free activities! Click the links below to jump down to detail on each part of the day.
MORNING: Guided Hike and Guided Bird Tour
BRI has recently begun a series of guided hikes up Hancock Hill behind the campus of Sul Ross State University. Today’s hike, from 9-11am, will be led by Dr. Justin French, who will be sharing information on Big Game species in the area.
Reservations are required for the hike, and space is very limited.
NOTE: The Guided Hike is now full. Click here for more info on future hikes, or to add your name to a wait list.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Due to expected high winds the morning of Saturday, Feb. 3, the planned “Birds of Alpine” guided tour will move inside to Room 130 of the SRSU Range Animal Science building
Also from 9-11am, Dr. Maureen Frank will be presenting “Birds of Alpine” – originally planned for Kokernot Lodge and Park, it will be held in Room 130 of the SRSU RAS building.
Here is a note from Dr. Frank:
“We have decided to change the venue for Birds of Alpine from an outside to an inside location. The weather forecast is predicting sustained winds at 30-35mph and gusts as high as 65mph. This presents several concerns, including the risk of falling cottonwood branches around the amphitheater, not being able to hear everything in the presentation, and just not being much fun! Birds tend to avoid this weather as well, so we would be unlikely to see anything except perhaps the occasional dove blowing past.
“We will now meet in the Range Animal Science building, which is east of the main part of SRSU campus. See map below. During the first hour, I will cover Birding Basics, including how to identify birds, how to use binoculars, and some resources/field guides. During the second hour, I will share some photos and audio of birds around Alpine that you should know, and where you can often find them. If you are not a new birder and just trying to learn the area, feel free to join us at 10:00am if you don’t need to go over the basics. There is lots of room in the auditorium (~80 seats), so feel free to bring a friend even if they didn’t register for the initial walk.
“Thank you for your interest and hopefully we can try to do the walk another time when the weather cooperates!”
NOON: Lunch & Learn
At noon, in the lobby of the historic Holland Hotel, learn from BRI graduate students about their current wildlife research projects at a “Lunch and Learn” event.
Seating is limited, with additional standing room available. We recommend bringing a “grab and go” lunch from one of Alpine’s local food service options, see our suggestions below.
Lunch and Learn Speakers
Matthew Hewitt will speak on Methods for estimating density of black bears in the Trans-Pecos of Texas
Ty Goodwin will speak on Livestock Grazing and Healthy Grasslands
Emily Blumentritt will speak on Wintering Birds in the Trans-Pecos
Caleb Hughes will speak on Winter Habitat Selection, Movement Behavior and Survival of Scaled Quail in the Trans-Pecos, Texas
Elle Sutherland will speak on Avoiding Competition: Desert Bighorn Sheep Niche Plasticity in Aoudad Occupied Landscapes
Where to grab a quick bite for the Wildlife Day Lunch and Learn!
*Note: in order to accommodate more people there will only be chairs set up in the Holland Hotel, no tables. The chairs will be first come first serve with overflow guests using standing room. So, we suggest grabbing a sandwich or wrap.
Bread Garden Bakery– This bakery offers sandwiches, salads and wraps ready to go as well as made to order specials. Watch for the Wildlife Day Special! You can also grab great snacks and sweets.
801 E Holland, 817-673-2925
Picnic Basket– Who doesn’t love a picnic lunch?! Choose from several sandwiches, bento boxes or order off the menu. The Picnic Basket also has snacks, sweets and drinks. You can even find unique vintage clothes and cool Alpine souvenirs here.
203 E Walker Street, 432-538-1770
Scoops– Conveniently located just a couple blocks from the Holland Hotel it’s a great spot to grab a quick bite for the lunch learn. They have grab and go and made to order sandwiches, fresh pastries and sweets and of course ice cream!
106 Sul Ross Ave, 432-837-4747
Alpine also has several quick serve options that have daily specials, Uncles Convenience Store, Alpine Quick Mart, Skelton’s Runway and Lowe’s Market.
Joe Crow Coffee will be proving coffee for the lunch and learn. You can also stop by their super cute coffee trailer located at 307 W Avenue E if you want a specialty drink!
AFTERNOON: Downtown Alpine Shops & Special Events
In the afternoon, several downtown Alpine shops will offer wildlife-themed events and specials, including:
Front Street Books
From 1-3pm, local artist & cartoonist Chris Ruggia will be at Front Street Books drawing animals and signing his comic books about wildlife of the Big Bend.
Additionally, Ruggia will be presenting his newest painting, of a black bear family in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park. The image commemorates the sighting in the late 1980s of a mother bear with cubs confirmed to have been born in the Park, the first since before BBNP was established in 1944. 50% of all proceeds from any sales of prints and the original artwork will be donated to BRI to support black bear research.
Gallery on the Square
At the Big Bend Arts Council’s Gallery on the Square, Dr. Patricia Harveson will be discussing the intersection of art and wildlife conservation, and sharing information about the species depicted in her paintings.
10% of sales of Dr. Harveson’s work always supports conservation organizations, and for Wildlife Day, she is offering an additional 10% off all of her originals, prints and cards.
The gallery will offer light refreshments.
Javelinas on Holland
New downtown boutique Javelinas on Holland will present live music in the afternoon, offering shirts that feature local wildlife and plushies of species like big horn sheep, javelina, black bear, rattlesnakes, foxes, coyotes and more!
Wassermann’s on Holland Avenue is the storefront for Wassermann’s Wranch, a multi-species family that is home to donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos and…Carl the Camel! Unfortunately, Carl is needing a little “personal time” and won’t be able to come downtown, but some of his donkey pals will be there, so stop by and say hello!
EVENING: “Deep in the Heart” Film Screening & Wildlife Panel Discussion
In the evening, join us at the Granada Theatre! Doors open at 4:30pm.
At 5:15pm, there will be a special screening of Deep in the Heart, a visually stunning documentary celebration of Texas’ wildlife diversity and natural landscapes, narrated by Matthew McConaughey.
And at 7pm, the film will be followed by a Wildlife Panel Discussion with BRI wildlife experts talking about the film and several other wildlife subjects, including the current status of Black Bear populations in the Trans-Pecos and beyond.
The evening’s emcee will be Austin Alvarado, a Texas-based wildlife cinematographer who has filmed various wildlife through out the state. He was a primary cinematographer for Deep in the Heart, directed “Second Chance,” an HEB film based on BRI’s bear research, and has shot on a number of other wildlife films across the state and beyond. He began his career as a resident of West Texas having lived in Terlingua for a nearly a decade, Austin has grown to love and appreciate the natural world of West Texas and the people who help conserve it.
The panelists will include:
- Dr. Justin French, Big Game Specialist and Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Management
- Matt Hewitt, Ph.D. Candidate studying black bears
- Elle Sutherland, M.S. Thesis Candidate studying desert bighorn sheep
- Jason Crosby, Habitat Specialist, Center for Land Stewardship and Stakeholder Engagement