Humans aren’t the only ones being displaced by the current Mississippi River flooding, and with thousands of acres of wooded bottom lands and farms now under water, hundreds of deer, turkey, wild rabbits and more animals have been “forced to flee or die.”
“We’ve seen photos of herds of deer on levees trying to get away from the waters and heard from the Army Corps of Engineers that they’ve seen deer drowned during the flood,” stated Jereme Odom of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “In fact, one of our wildlife managers even spotted deer and coyotes (natural enemies) standing on the same levee together.”
The floods come at a particularly poor time for wild turkeys, he added since the majority of them are nesting this time of year.
With nowhere to go, many of these animals have been venturing further into residential neighborhoods and even invading abandoned homes, which is expected to cause a lot of problems when the waters begin to recede and evacuees start returning .
“We’re starting to see some issues, especially with the snakes,” stated Steve Shular, a spokeman for Shelby County in Tennessee.”We’ve definitely seen a lot of snakes, like water moccasins. With swollen rivers reaching up near homes and neighborhoods,we want to make sure people understand that the rules have changed.”
While most animals will survive the Mississippi River flood, for some their habitats could take years to return to normal, Odom said.
“Animals will be displaced for so long that, when the water does recede, it will take a while to get back to their original habitats,” he said. “Some may be established elsewhere or displaced so far away that they never get back.”
In the meantime, animal officials are warning people not to try and save seemingly distressed animals on their own.
“Animals that appear to be in need of rescue should be left alone,” warned Chad Harden, a big game coordinator with the Tennessee agency.” They are under stress, but their natural survival instincts will help them cope with the situation until things get back to normal. The animals could pose a real danger to someone who might try to rescue them.”
In the meantime, hundreds of displaced dogs and cats from flooded states have been shipped to shelters here in the north looking for new homes. To find out if any are available in your area, please contact the Connecticut Humane Society by calling 800 452-0114 (Newington), 203 227-4137 (Westport) or 860 442-8583 (Quaker Hill).