SGA passes resolution to bring horned lizard to campus

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    Bringing a horned frog to campus is junior political science major Preston Patry’s pet project, but he said he isn’t the first to propose the idea.

    With the help of finance chair and junior business and political science major Ryan Hoff, Patry proposed a resolution to bring a horned lizard to campus at Tuesday night’s House of Student Representatives meeting. The resolution passed with 37 out of 38 votes. The House’s Student Relations Committee will take the lead on the project along with the resolution’s author, according to resolution.

    Patry said that many other universities, such as Louisiana State University and Colorado State University have live mascots that are a unifying point of pride for the institutions they represent. Having a horned lizard, popularly known as a “horned frog,” would also be a great educational opportunity for students to learn about the protected species, he said.

    Many students have attempted to get a horned lizard on campus but gave up after learning it is a protected species, Patry said. Patry said that he has already done a lot of research, and there are still many obstacles to overcome. For example, they need to find a food source and caretaker for the lizard as well as get permission from university officials.

    Patry said he has not yet given university officials a proposal because he wants to give them a plan that covers all the details of housing the lizard. He said bringing the idea to the House was his first step in seeking feedback from the campus community.

    Patry said he contacted both the Texas Horned Lizard Conservation Society and a representative from Texas Parks and Wildlife to find out if it was possible to have a live mascot that is a protected species. He said the university could get an educational permit for about $50 dollars per year, as long as the animal serves an educational purpose.

    Patry said he has also been gathering information from the Caldwell and El Paso zoos to find out how they care for their lizards.

    Patry’s main contact for the project is Dean Williams, an assistant professor of biology, who is doing research on horned lizards.

    Williams said he is researching the genetic structure of different populations of horned lizards. The project is preliminary work to guide future efforts for restoration of the species.

    One of the biggest challenges will be finding a food source for the lizard, Williams said. He said horned lizards used to prosper in the area, but most likely died off when red fire ants out-competed the native harvester ants that horned lizards eat.

    Patry said he would try to use the same supplier of harvester ants that the Fort Worth Zoo uses.

    The zoo has a horned lizard exhibit, but Patry said he wants the university to have its own. He said he hopes to keep it near the information desk in the Brown-Lupton University Union so that prospective students can see it on campus tours. He said that location would be ideal because the information desk staff would watch over the exhibit, it would be locked at night and it would be convenient for students to visit.

    Patry said he also thinks the display would draw attention to the research Williams is doing for the species.

    The House’s biggest concern was the lizard’s hibernation patterns. Several representatives asked if the lizard could be brought out at football games, which Patry said would be difficult in late fall.

    Patry said the lizard usually hibernates from late October into late February and is generally stored in a refrigerator during that time.

    Another concern brought up by the representatives was whether a university can house an endangered species. Patry said the horned lizard is not on the endangered list but is listed as a protected species. He said the University of Colorado at Boulder has a buffalo, which is above the horned lizard on the conservation lists.

    Alyssa Kneipp, a junior economics major, said she thought getting a horned lizard on campus was definitely possible.

    “I grew up around LSU, and their tiger means the world to the students there,” she said.

    Hoff said he realized the idea had been proposed many times without success, but that he had faith in Patry.

    “I’ve never had someone come to me with more enthusiasm for a resolution,” Hoff said. “I really think he will do everything to make this happen.”