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Reports of oil-covered birds in Texas called false

AUSTIN — Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson blamed the federal bureaucracy and a "hysterical media" for what he denounced as false reports that birds drenched in sludge from the Gulf oil spill have been spotted in Texas.

State and federal officials on Monday dismissed the reports as erroneous after they surfaced in the news media over the weekend.

"That's incorrect," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Larry Chambers, a spokesman at the Unified Area Command Post at Robert, La.

The report, he said, stemmed from a "clerical error" in wildlife damage assessments compiled Sunday. Chambers also said there have been no reports that oil residue from the spill has reached Texas.

Patterson, whose office deals with oil spills in Texas waters, stood by earlier statements that the spill poses no immediate threat to the Lone Star State.

"No birds -- or any other wildlife -- on the Texas coast has been affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill," Patterson said, noting that the slick is still more than 100 miles east of the Sabine River, which marks the Texas-Louisiana boundary at the coast.

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