LDWF: Don't feed wild animals escaping floodwaters

Staff reports

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) urges citizens to minimize contact with animals seeking temporary refuge from their flooded home range.

Wild animals not posing a threat to humans should be left alone and should not be fed, as that would encourage them to remain to remain near a new food source rather than find natural habitat and food sources on their own.

Residents also should avoid areas where displaced wildlife has taken refuge and avoid roadways near flooded areas to reduce likelihood of disturbances of or collisions with wildlife.

Species of Concern include:

Black Bears:The Louisiana black bear remains on the federal Threatened and Endangered Species List.  Assistance with black bears forced into populated areas by flood waters is available by calling toll free 1-800-442-2511.

Alligators, Snakes: Flood waters will carry reptiles into populated areas where they may not normally be noted in significant numbers. Residents should exercise extreme caution when salvaging possessions from flooded areas. Wildlife, especially reptiles, may remain in flooded areas and pose a safety threat.

Poisonous snake species in Louisiana include the canebrake rattlesnake, the copperhead, the cottonmouth, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the harlequin coral snake, the pygmy rattlesnake and the Texas coral snake. More information on snake species found in Louisiana, including frequently asked questions,   is available at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/resource/snakes-louisiana.

Deer, Feral Hogs:Deer and feral hog populations within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley represent the two large quadruped species that may appear in populated areas in significant numbers as flood waters move wild animals out of natural habitat. As is the case with all wild animals, how these species will react to humans in close contact situations is unpredictable. LDWF recommends allowing the animals to move unimpeded through flooded areas as they seek higher ground.

Assistance with these species or others that endanger human health or safety is available by calling LDWF field offices in Baton Rouge at (225) 765-2800.