|Jimmy could talk, Crows are survivors.|
My attention turned to the impact that the monster Hurricane Florence has had on humanity in that vast flooded area, the human suffering is always first on most peoples minds. During floods many families lose everything forcing them to rebuild from scratch, some have no flood insurance. Those that do have flood insurance still suffer greatly from having to spend much-needed money on emergency repairs and ruined furniture, vehicles, and equipment. Cleaning up the mess is always monumental, most residents have few choices other than to rebuild and keep going. Sure there are always problems with infrastructure that is poorly designed causing much damage, there is also a lot of worn out infrastructure as well as bridges, dams, and levees that are stressed to the maximum experiencing a 1,000-year event. Reclaiming their farms, homes, and places of business after the event, when the water begins to recede is when all of the hard work begins. Farmers lose livestock, families lose pets, and the wildlife must cope with the disaster.
|Nothing but hard work remains.|
My thoughts today have been pre-occupied with the wild animals and how they survive the disasters, wind, tornadoes, but most of all the high water invading their habitats in which they were born and now exist in. I have visions of snakes, alligators, and snapping turtles being swept away by the raging water destined to be deposited where ever the water stops flowing. Jimmy the Crow would be one of the lucky ones, he could fly as most birds are able to do, some like domestic chickens have a very limited flight distance. There are the mammals also, what do they do during an event as huge as Florence? Let's take a look at some of the reptiles, mammals, and birds.
Some of them will die from the floods, the mortality rate is impossible to calculate, it varies from one location to another. Young and old animals are the most vulnerable, most of the healthy, middle age animals have adapted to high water situations and most will make it through the disaster just fine. The amount of area taken over by the flood and how long the water remains affects the mortality rate.
Follow this Link for suggestions on what to do if wildlife is encountered in a flood emergency.
Deer seek high ground when a flood begins, they are able to swim very well in normally flowing water, a raging flood stream is another matter entirely. Some will drown but surprisingly most of them survive, searching for the high ground they normally find it. They form herds which deplete the food supply in short order, if that herd gathers around a house the temptation is to feed them. It is recommended not to feed them, the idea is that it will encourage the animals to remain on the property dependent upon being fed by humans. We have good intentions and the idea of not feeding a herd of starving deer is hard for most of us to contend with, we may cause more harm than good, however. The large animals are stressed and being in an unknown environment they are easily spooked, approaching them may cause them to panic seeking escape in a deep raging torrent or water. Encouraging a large group of them to congregate may spread disease, after being in flood water for an extended period of time they are exposed to many toxins, viruses, and bacteria which is able to spread to all of them causing a mass die-off.
|These are Mule Deer, they will form herds also.|
If the situation is dire and the animals are starving to death and must be fed caution must be taken, some feed is not appropriate. One would think because the deer commonly invade our fields of corn that would be a proper source of food, that is not the case. The potential danger is aflatoxins which are increased if the product is exposed to the wet ground. Deer can sustain high levels however birds (such as Wild Turkeys) are likely to die from it, isolating the feed to just the Deer would be impossible. As soon as the corn is placed in a feeder the birds would show up most likely leading to their demise. Long-term consumption of corn and other grains (Wheat) will lead to rumen acidosis causing long-term health effects and most likely death to the Deer. Cattle feed such as Hay is not suitable due to the lack of essential nutrients for the animals. Dairy Cattle feed, however, is acceptable, in pellet form with at least 12% crude protein placed in an above-ground trough type of feeder is the recommended way to provide them with the food.
Feral Hogs do not cope well in a flood disaster very well at all. they are an invasive species which cause extreme damage to every environment they encounter. Unable to swim well when caught in the rapidly moving water during its downhill rush they drown, many do survive. They face another dilemma being an invasive species they can be dispatched after permission from the property owner is achieved. It is seen by many as a unique opportunity to rid the area of a very destructive pest, but caution must be taken to be certain not to be mistaken for another breed of animal. Checking with the local wildlife authorities is a prudent necessary step that must be taken to ensure all laws are adhered to.
Squirrels experience high mortality rates. Squirrels lifespan is 1-1/2 years on average, if they escape the flood waters they have a higher risk of death from predators, traffic, and starving to death. They breed all year long, a flood greatly impacts the reproduction rate. They produce more young during the summer breeding season which extends from June through August. January through March is the winter season typically producing less offspring.
Rabbits like Squirrels experience high death rates under normal river flows, during a flood it is greatly increased. Fifteen months is the lifespan of cottontails, 2 years is normal for swamp Rabbits. Typically breeding from January through September the normal litter size of 4-5 is reduced during high water, but they have 4-5 litters per year. Swamp Rabbits breed from February through July averaging 3-4 young with each of 2-3 litters per year. It sure seems like the Rabbits around my place have a lot more litters than that per year, it seems they have one every month of the year.
Alligators may appear on roadways or in yards, stay very far away from the reptiles even though they are non-aggressive normally unless they feel threatened. Keep pets on a leash when one of the large predators is nearby, if there is a threat to humans call the State Department of Wildlife to have reptile removed.
Snakes will seek safety anywhere, in homes, buildings, outbuildings, and wood piles during natural disasters. Cottonmouths and Rattlesnakes are the most probable species we may encounter depending upon the location. Be cautious when moving through the high water in boats, walking, or clearing debris. After the water recedes check the entire house, attics, storage cupboards, outbuildings, and ventilation ducting. Protective clothing, long pants, boots, and gloves must be worn when walking through standing water. Wash your self off after being in contact with flood water, it is toxic.
Bear encounters are rarer, but if one comes into a residential area remain at a safe distance, some are a protected species protected by federal law. Arbitrarily shooting one may lead to serious legal issues with the Federal and/or State officials. As with Alligators and Snakes call the State Wildlife Department, they will trap and relocate the animal.
|A photograph of a Fire Ant raft, stay clear!|
Fire Ants flushed from their nests will form rafts making their escape from the high water efficient and swift. Floating on top of the water they will occupy any high ground, they are extremely aggressive and are capable of causing serious bites. If a raft is encountered they may see a human as high ground and attempt to occupy us, stay far away from them.
Humans need to take precautions to protect ourselves from becoming ill from the flood water. The blog I wrote two days ago talked about the many toxins in flood water as well as some of the illnesses we may be inflicted with. Avoid handling animals without gloves (dead or alive), never eat food that has come into contact with flood water, under no circumstances should flood water be used for any reason, it can not be purified well enough to consume. Hygiene is extremely important, after being in contact with flood water wash/bathe/shower with hot water and soap if available, there are chemicals, pesticides, and feces in that water. Do not use well water until after it is tested and given a clean bill of health by a qualified lab.
Follow this Link for an informative article on What every animal owner needs to know about pets and floods.
By no means is this a comprehensive listing of all of the animals affected by the disasters, but it gives us a pretty good idea of what the wildlife must contend with, it affects us as well. Thanks for reading and sharing my blog, I hope I pass on some useful information, my next article will be on livestock and farm animals. Thanks again.