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On the hunt for the Texas horned lizard

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. — Raymond Moody tracks 10 to 15 Texas horned lizards every summer on special acreage at Tinker Air Force Base.

It’s land set aside just for that species.

He recently took us along on one of the tracking trips.

“What we’re going to be doing is actually tracking a lizard that has a radio transmitter on it,” he said. “Each lizard has a transmitter that is programmed to a certain frequency.”

Raymond warned us before we started that finding these guys in Oklahoma can be tough.

What was once a ubiquitous species with run of the prairie, almost disappeared a few decades ago.

The lizard is shy.

“The horned lizard is really unique. It uses camouflage. That’s it’s strategy for escaping, so they are going to be hard to see,” Raymond said.

The radio transmitter easily takes us to the high grass and brush.

The horned lizard we found barely showed himself.

Raymond said these lizards only grow to be two or three inches long in Oklahoma.

That’s not true in places farther south, where the lizard can grow to be 5 inches or more.

Oklahoma lawmakers have listed the lizard as a protected species; people aren’t allowed to keep them as pets.

Protecting these lizards is just one of the conservation efforts that go on at TAFB.

“We’re responsible for managing the natural resources, so that’s going to be your fish, your wild life, your vegetation, your soil, your water resources; we touch every single one of those particular resources,” John Krupovage said, a resources program manager at the base.

“We owe it to the American tax payer, we owe it to the war fighter, to manage this land the best that we can and we really should set the tone and the example and we be a model for how to manage land,” John Krupovage said.

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