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Flooding from spillway will pose major threat to wildlife

Posted at 7:42 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 20:42:33-04

Flooding from the Morganza Spillway will have a negative impact on surrounding wildlife.

A big part of the decision for a soft opening of the spillway is to help give wildlife more time to seek drier land. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is preparing to see a major impact from the flooding.

When the spillway opened in 2011, the rushing waters took a toll on wildlife.

“Snakes, we’ve seen a lot of snakes,” said Stephensville resident, Leroy Gros.

Over the past few months, Gros and his family have seen more wildlife in their neighborhood, like deer struggling to get out of flood water.

“The deer are sick and they’re hungry and the squirrels and raccoons,” he said.

“The ones that are way on the interior, some of those just don’t get out. The water gets too high, they can swim so far and then they just get stressed out and they won’t make it out,” said LDWF regional manager of the wildlife division, Tony Vidrine.

As flood water comes from the spillway, animals will be seeking higher ground. Vidrine says drivers should be especially cautious while driving around flooded areas, like Hwy 190, where many animals will be crossing.

But agents warn against feeding the wild animals because it will encourage them to stay in the area, when they should be allowed to find natural habitat and food on their own.

“Don’t feed them, don’t get them accustomed to being fed,” said Vidrine. “Just stay away from them and let them be because they’re not in familiar territory.”

The main animals of concern are bears, snakes, alligators, deer, hogs and turkeys.

In 2011 LDWF reported roughly 1,600 deer died as a result of flooding, that’s 30% of the population in that area.

As for turkeys, LDWF reported that turkeys were largely impacted by the 2011 flood, as most of the population did not survive and expect a similar result this year.

For more information on these species, click here.

“In 2011, it was pretty harsh, We didn’t think we’d see it again, in my life time or my career. And here we are again years later, but it’s just part of living in Louisiana and it’s just part of mother nature,” said Vidrine.

LDWF says they’re tracking the animal movements by GPS, but there’s not much they can do beforehand.

Once the flood is over, they will more than likely shorten the hunting season later this year because of decreased animal populations.