With all of the recent rain we have had throughout the state, I have received several inquiries about effects on wildlife and what we can expect. While some flooding is natural in low areas and wildlife are adapted to respond, extreme flooding can impact wildlife. Flood waters can wash away nests or drown developing or very young animals for those living in low-lying areas. For example, heavy spring rains can reduce nest success of wild turkeys.
In many cases, wildlife will adapt by simply moving to higher ground. I tend to get an increase in inquiries about snakes after flooding. They begin showing up in neighborhood homes when they have never been observed in years past. Certainly our environment changes over time and wildlife can and do respond to these changes. However, sudden changes are likely due to a response of snakes moving to drier ground. The good news is this and other similar displacement of wildlife is usually temporary.
What can we do? I’m afraid not much for our currently flooded friends. However, in the long-term, times like this reinforce the need to create and enhance quality wildlife habitat. Providing wildlife with quality habitat that contains the necessary food, cover and water resources gives them a fighting chance to deal with issues that inevitably arise. In addition, wetlands that landowners build and restore on their properties not only enhance wildlife habitat, but also help retain moderate flood waters and recharge groundwater supplies.
If some unwanted wildlife has overstayed their welcome in and around your home, check out the Purdue Education Store publication, Considerations for Trapping Nuisance Wildlife with Box Traps. If you think you have found a sick or injured animal, you can find a list of licensed Wild Animal Rehabilitators in your area on the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Orphaned and Injured webpage. In Indiana, wildlife rehabilitators have necessary state and federal permits to house and care for sick or injured wild animals.
Preventing Wildlife Damage – Do You Need a Permit? The Education Store, Purdue Extension
The Basics of Managing Wildlife on Agricultural Lands, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Brian J. MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University