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Arkansas River flooding only temporary inconvenience to displaced wildlife

BY Randy Zellers

ON 05-24-2019


May 24, 2019

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK – Plenty of warnings have gone out for people to stay clear of the rising water on the Arkansas River during the predicted flood, but what about the wildlife? How is the flood going to impact them, and what can people living near the affected area do to help? Give them their space and let them move on. 

The predicted flooding in the Arkansas River will not be permanent, and many displaced animals can adapt well for short periods of time. With many of these animals having just been born during the last month, they may look helpless, but their parents are around somewhere and will tend to them as long as people do not intervene. 

“Many species like deer will leave their young in one spot and search for food so they can produce milk to nurse,” said Garrick Dugger, assistant chief of wildlife management for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “They didn’t abandon them. They’re simply doing what nature intended. During a flood, they may choose some strange places, like flowerbeds to relocate their young, but it will only be temporary.”

Dugger says many small game species also make use of trees and bushes to negotiate flooded areas, but there could be some temporary setbacks in other species.

“Ground-nesting birds like turkeys that may have gone to nest late may lose their nests because of the flood, but these sorts of things have happened before, and they can rebound,” Dugger said. 

People may be tempted to “rescue” displaced wildlife or provide food for them, but that can be a recipe for disaster. Once wildlife begin to lose their fear of humans, they quickly can become a nuisance and can become aggressive if they feel threatened. The best course of action is to simply tolerate a little extra company for a few days. Once the water levels decline, nearly all of the displaced animals will relocate back to their previous home ranges. 

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