Storm damage minimal on wildlife

Kenneth Gautreaux  |  9/4/2012 11:36:41 PM

News Release Distributed 09/04/12

Wildlife across the state seemed to have weathered Hurricane Isaac with no large-scale fish kills or animal drownings, according to preliminary reports from LSU AgCenter specialists.

Michael Kaller, assistant professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources specializing in fish and stream ecology, said fish kills typically begin within three days after the passing of a tropical system, such as with Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Isaac hit the Louisiana coast on Aug. 28.

“Certainly after an event such as this, you would expect to see some isolated fish kills,” Kaller said. He said crews in the Atchafalaya Basin on Aug. 31 did not report any major fish kills.

Kaller has probes collecting data in the Basin, and he will have more information later this week on how Isaac affected the area in terms of water quality.

One difference between Isaac and Gustav is that with Isaac many trees in the Basin held their leaves, and there were fewer broken limbs observed. These signs seem to indicate Isaac will have a less severe effect on wildlife than Gustav.

Don Reed, LSU AgCenter extension wildlife specialist at the Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station in Clinton, said that floodwaters associated with Isaac displaced many wildlife species. High waters forced many of the larger game animals, such as white-tailed deer, to seek higher ground.

“When animals are found in these situations, they should be left alone by the public and not harassed in any way,” Reed said.

Reed said animals typically will return to their home ranges as soon as the floodwaters recede.

“Feeding of any displaced animals is also highly discouraged because it will only delay the animals return to where it should go,” Reed said.

He cautioned those driving in flooded areas to be mindful of wildlife to help avoid potential vehicle collisions.

Snakes that have been pushed up into higher ground will often take refuge in debris piles left behind after flood waters recede, Reed said. When cleaning debris, be wary of poisonous snakes, such as cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes.

“Wear protective clothing, especially boots and gloves, and watch where you put your hands,” he said.

Reed said winds from Isaac have placed a large amount of acorns on the ground well in advance of natural acorn fall. These acorns will provide a nutritious food source for white-tailed deer.

Craig Gautreaux

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