Texas is home to dozens of exotic species, several of which can be found in the Trans-Pecos. These include African species (such as scimitar-horned oryx, gemsbok, and aoudad), Indian species (such as blackbuck antelope and axis deer), and feral hogs.
Aoudad are a hardy desert sheep, native to the coastal and some inland mountains of northern Africa. While considered vulnerable in their native ranges, aoudad are abundant in the mountains of the Trans-Pecos. Little is known about their ecology in their newfound ranges, though considerable evidence suggests that they are susceptible to numerous diseases which affects native wildlife.
Similar to aoudad, feral hogs are highly invasive the Trans-Pecos. Feral hogs must utilize water resources to manage their body heat, which largely limits them to riparian habitats, where cooler temperatures and more moisture make a suitable habitat for them. Unfortunately, these are some of the most sensitive habitats in the region and are inhabited by native species. Also, like aoudad, they are known to carry many diseases, and their wallowing habits have led to contamination of surface water resources.
In particular, aoudad prefer the same rugged, high-elevation habitats as desert bighorn sheep and forage similarly. This combination suggests a competitive relationship, in which desert bighorn are at a reproductive disadvantage. While aoudad breed year-round, most bighorn ewes typically give birth to a single lamb, per year. High reproductive output allows aoudad populations to grow considerably faster than those of desert bighorn.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the Borderlands Research Institute, and other agencies have partnered to understand the complex interaction of native and non-native species in the Trans-Pecos. Effective management strategies require an understanding of the mechanisms by which these species interact. Researchers and biologists are currently working to unravel these processes, and provide strategies to minimize the impacts of non-native species to recover native species populations.