Restoring the wild turkey population in the Rio Grande Valley has been the chief goal of Las Huellas of South Texas, but the now decade-old nonprofit organization has become a benefactor for many others.
In the 10 years since it broke away from the National Turkey Federation, Las Huellas has given out close to $800,000 to nonprofit entities needing infusions of money to implement their programs.
Organization that have benefited include Guadalupe Middle School, Fishing’s Future, RGV Livestock Show 4-H FFA, Valley Proud, Youth Duck Hunt, Friends of the Ocelot, Hooked for Life Kids Gone Fish’n, Boys Scouts, National Butterfly Center, Willacy County Young Farmers Association, Los Fresnos Nature Club, Migratory Bird Flyway Conservation, Texas Brigades, Cameron County 4H Archery Club and the Kleberg Wildlife Research Turkey Trap.
One of Las Huellas’ latest efforts has been to get involved with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fever Tick Research.
The federal agency has been deeply engaged in a program to try to control the spread of this pest that poses a life-threatening risk to cattle and wildlife, such the white-tailed deer and the nilgae antelope.
If left uncontrolled, these ticks have the potential to negatively impact the Texas beef industry to the tune of more than $1 billion annually.
And for that, Las Huellas has teamed up with the USDA and the Kleberg Foundation to fight the ticks, using a variety of methods to treat nilgae antelope at six ranches in eastern Cameron County.
To accomplish its goals, Las Huellas hosts several fundraising events during the year. During the nonprofit’s 10th anniversary banquet held in March east of Bayview, 10 Valley students received $2,500 scholarships each.
And at its third annual Crawfish and Shrimp Boil held in early May in Brownsville, scores of people showed up for an evening of fun for the group’s second largest fundraising event of the year.
“Our chief goal is turkey restoration,” said Rob Cackley, president of the 11-member board of directors. “But we are also involved in the cattle fever tick research and help out other organizations.”
Las Huellas, which translates into tracks in English, takes its name after the three-toe footprint a turkey leaves on the ground.
As a result of the turkey restoration program, more than 500 wild turkeys have been released into the wild and more are scheduled in the near future.
Las Huellas also lists among their goals the education of young people on how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly and ethically.