For three years, a roadside drainage pond at Interstate 10 and Barker Cypress Road has been a surprising home to West Houston wildlife, supporting countless fish, birds and turtles — not to mention an alligator or two.
But thanks to a TxDOT maintenance crew, the unlikely sanctuary met its end Wednesday morning when a bulldozer leveled a dam made by a family of beavers. Water quickly drained from the pond, leaving the unsuspecting creatures to fend for themselves.
On a Thursday visit to the site, Drew Karedes from KHOU Channel 11 discovered thousands of fish rotting in the sun, labeling the now muddy patch a "graveyard for animals."
“The beavers would walk right up to you. You could pat them and everything. They didn’t have a care in the world. ”
Employees next door at Ron Hoover RV & Marine have spent years watching an unsightly highway project miraculously evolve into a lush and thriving ecosystem.
"The beavers would walk right up to you," Joe French, Ron Hoover general manager, explains. "You could pat them and everything. They didn't have a care in the world. There are a lot of families that would come out here to spend family time."
French feels that TxDOT took away the animals' chance of survival and calls the supposedly routine work "very cruel."
Texas transportation officials concede the area was not meant to hold water, but serves as drainage system for the highway in an effort to keep roadways safe during heavy rains. The agency insists it is not responsible for saving the animals.
"Safety is our highest priority and making sure the pond drains properly is key," Raquelle Lewis with TxDOT says in a written statement. "We will be diligent about getting the pond area clean and properly dispose of the exposed fish.”
Watch the full KHOU Ch. 11 report: