HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Some of the wildest moments in the news in 2022 featured wildlife coming into contact with people across Texas.
In early May, the Associated Press reported a 2-year-old child was hospitalized after being mauled by a coyote in Dallas. The child had been on the family’s front porch, in a neighborhood just north of White Rock Lake.
Fortunately, not every wildlife encounter this year resulted in serious injury. In fact, many of the moments were simply awe-inspiring, thrilling or odd.
Here’s a look back at the most unexpected animal encounters in 2022 from across Texas.
Thrash and Splash
A 7 1/2-foot wild alligator found itself in unfamiliar, salty waters in October, surprising tourists and visitors on a popular stretch of beach on South Padre Island.
The alligator was captured and relocated to a wildlife refuge under the watch of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the help of local alligator handlers.
Although wild alligators can be spotted around South Padre Island, they rarely wander into the surfside areas, where beachgoers swim and enjoy the coast. Gators prefer freshwater, said Jacob Reinbolt, a herpetologist for an alligator sanctuary at the SPI Birding and Nature Center.
They venture into saltwater only long enough to find food.
“So if you asked me, the most likely scenario here is he went out looking for food and kind of got swept into the surf,” Reinbolt said, explaining the gator was in need of rescue by the time they caught and relocated it to safety.
Beware of Your Own Backyard
In October, KXAN had a report of Pflugerville resident Jessica Luna, who discovered new neighbors: Spotted cats who moved in one yard over from her house.
A family of bobcats took to using a neighbor’s backyard as their playground.
In a series of videos submitted to KXAN, Luna documented a mother bobcat and at least three kittens, all of which were spunky, playful and up to various antics.
Officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife told KXAN it’s “perfectly normal” for bobcats to be in urban areas and for them to be active during both the day and night.
Spotted in the Night
A wildcat was also seen in Round Rock, captured on a Ring camera, according to a report from KXAN on Oct. 31.
According to the station, TPWD officials reviewed the nighttime footage and said the animal seen lurking through a residential backyard was likely a bobcat — as opposed to a mountain lion, which can also be encountered in many parts of Texas.
Still At Large
In June, ValleyCentral reported sightings of a ‘large cat-like’ animal in McAllen. Photos were captured of the animal, but animal control officials who searched the area concluded their hunt empty-handed.
Bee Very Careful
In November, “Bee-list” celebrity Walter Schumacher was called to remove and relocate a massive hive of wild bees in November when a swarm stung a city worker and threaten to keep local birders far away from a wetland in San Benito.
The worker discovered the bees in a painful way, receiving multiple stings after a lawnmower disturbed the hive.
Schumacher appears in Discovery’s TV series, “Bee Czar,” where he handles bees without a protective suit. ValleyCentral witnessed him in action and heard his advice about bees: “Bee the tree,” he said. Bees are alarmed by movement, and so it’s best to be calm and still around them, he said.
A Bison in Belton
In October, FOX44 reported that a bison was on the loose in Belton, requiring a couple of cowboys to help in the capture.
Deer and Present Danger
In early December, a young buck found himself stuck in ranch fencing near Falfurrias in rural South Texas.
Fortunately, an U.S. Border Patrol agent happened along in the nick of time and freed the white-tailed deer, which scampered off in to the brush without hesitation or gratitude.
The rescue was recorded on video footage by agents who then shared the footage on social media.
“Our #BorderPatrol Agents without hesitation will always respond!” Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez wrote in the tweet featuring the video. “Even if it is Rudolph in need! Great Job #Falfurrias Station Agents who on patrol freed one of Santa’s helpers this morning near Falfurrias, Texas.”
Brrrrtles, We Mean Turtles
In February, a sudden dip in temperatures in South Texas led to the stranding of dozens of wild, endangered sea turtles along the Texas Gulf coast. Rescuers on South Padre Island worked to save the turtles, primarily Atlantic green sea turtles.
According to Border Report, 79 sea turtles were temporarily cold-stunned, a condition caused when the cold-blood creatures become incapacitated doing to the frigid water. The turtles are awake but unable to move or swim.
Stick to the Facts
The last time you encountered a sticky, clear substance on your car, you just might have had an encounter with Mother Nature. But it might not be one that you expected, according to a KXAN report in September.
“If you’re standing under the tree and you feel like it’s raining on you. You’re actually being — I guess —peed or pooped on,” Texas A&M Agrilife Extension entomologist Wizzie Brown told KXAN.
Cars coated in clear sticky droplets are not victims of tree sap, KXAN reported, but of aphids feeding on trees and then excreting afterwards. Gross? Absolutely. (Maybe we should stick to thinking the sticky stuff comes from the tree.)
Well, Well, Whale
Shrimpers off the coast of South Padre Island found something a little larger than jumbo shrimp in July, posting video of a massive whale shark near the side of their trawler.
The captain, Pedro Morales, said he had never seen one before.
“It was beautiful,” he said.