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Nancy Umphres

Region: Rio Grande Valley

Topics: Wildlife rehabilitation, Education, Art

Mrs. Umphres is a state- and federally-licensed wildlife rehabilitator who has run Zapata Wildlife Rescue since 1987.  The rescue center feeds, shelters, heals, and attempts to re-release as many as 200 sick and injured wild animals each year.  The animals that are brought to the center have typically been shot, or run over, tangled in fishing tackle, hurt by powerlines, or orphaned.  Mrs. Umphres has dealt with a variety of animals there, including deer, bobcats, gray fox, feral hogs, javelina, beaver, Swainson's hawks, Harris hawks, falcons, pelicans, ducks, geese, great horned owls, vultures, and even a rare red-billed tropic bird and an exotic Nile monitor lizard.  Care for these animals requires drugs, surgical services, hay for bedding, tarps for cover, a variety of food (chicken scratch, cracked corn, sweet potatoes, apples, dog food, cat food, chicken and turkey drum sticks, etc.), and a good deal of improvisation and creative partnering.

In addition to her work at Zapata Wildlife Rescue, Mrs. Umphres has also been active with a local environmental group, Zapata County Nature Conservation Society, which she has served as vice president.  Mrs. Umphres has spoken out on behalf of the Society against the rate and unfettered kind of development created by the North American Free Trade Agreement along the border, and successfully argued in 1995 for the shutdown of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Damage Control program in Zapata, which had been trapping and poisoning local wildlife.

In additional to her rehab and advocacy efforts, Mrs. Umphres has also been working on educational outreach.  She provided a summer environmental and art education program at the Zapata County Public Library from 1986 through 1991, and has written a column, "Zapata Wild", for the monthly journal, LareDos, since 1995.


February 24, 2006
Zapata, Texas
Reels 2369 and 2370

Please see a brief Real Media video excerpt from our interview with Mrs. Umphres.

Please see the uncut video (reels 2369 and 2370) and the transcript of Mrs. Umphres' full  interview.





Conservation History Association of Texas
Texas Legacy Project

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