Drought affecting wildlife

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT
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It's not just livestock that's feeling the effect of this summer's drought. In this week's County Ag Report, Kathy McCarty speaks with a wildlife biologist about how dry conditions are impacting wildlife and what it could mean for your garden or farm.

Worms feed on dead leaves and more, with their digestive debris replenishing nutrients in the soil. But this year’s drought has taken its toll on them. Wildlife Biologist Shawn Haskell says fewer worms means less food for some birds.

“Drought’s gonna be hard on worms, so it’s gonna be hard on anything that eats worms as well, like robins and woodcock. And I think the robin can probably diversify its diet a little easier than the woodcock, but any of our resident woodcock are gonna be stressed,” says Shawn Haskell.

With many waterways running far below their normal water level, aquatic species are having a difficult summer too.

He says “Reptiles and amphibians, you know, anything with a moist skin, they’re - they’re really gonna have to concentrate themselves back to the water bodies, whereas some - some reptiles, like wood turtles, would, in normal years, be out - out in the woods.”

Fruits and other vegetation normally eaten by bear, deer and moose aren’t as plentiful this year. This may result in mammals venturing out of their comfort zones in search of food. Haskell says the Maine Disabled Veterans Controlled Moose Hunt will provide an opportunity to see if more moose are venturing into broccoli fields.

“The guide who takes - who oversees that whole program does a really good job of keeping track of what they see basically every year, so we’ll - we’ll know if that’s the case, if - if the moose are hitting the broccoli more this year than usual,” says Haskell.

Haskell says this week’s rain is desperately needed, but it’ll take more than a few showers to make a lasting difference to wildlife, farms and livestock.

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