California Drought Greatly Affecting Wildlife

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A recent drought monitor has confirmed that 100 percent of California is now suffering from severe drought conditions. This marks the worst water crisis that California has seen in its recent history. Every person living within the state is suffering in a small or large way due to this water shortage. Much of the wildlife in California was already vulnerable, due to species decline or habitat loss; the wildlife of the state is greatly affected by the drought and is expected to come upon very hard times.

California suffered a recent heat wave which sparked nine different wildfires which in turn prompted over 11,000 mandatory evacuations and consumed 9,000 acres of land. Wildlife has grown accustomed to wildfires within their specific regions and generally take necessary precaution, such as evacuation, with a few animals that fall victim to the natural disaster. However, with the severe drought condition of the entire state wildlife is at a disadvantage with this series of wildfires. Wildlife normally moves out of an area in search of more plentiful land after a wildfire, though the land of California is now sparse and starved of water, which will cause wildlife affected by the fires to have a harder time recovering.

The drought has forced some ranchers to sell most of their livestock due to lack of sufficient water for their families and their animals. The California drought greatly affects visiting wildlife as well. Migratory birds which fly from the south of the country to the north use California as a main resting spot on their way, though the amount of water for a safe stay has greatly decreased with 90 percent of the state’s wetlands gone even before the drought hit.

Of course, an insufficient supply of water goes hand in hand with a decrease in fish. Salmon populations of California are greatly suffering. Some species, particularly the Central Coast Coho salmon are in danger of going extinct due to the dire situation of the climate. Crucial water passages for breeding salmon have become blocked due to lack of water; if this trend continues and endangered salmon are not able to breed, that could mean the end of many species of salmon.

Further inland California’s already declining population of deer is having a very difficult time with a loss of vegetation and sufficient water supplies. Deer will be forced to migrate to new land in search of adequate food and water, possibly bringing them into dangerous predator territory. Predators do not always ration food supplies, and with no clear knowledge of the dire situation affecting them, mountain lions and bears may wipe out migrating deer populations leaving little to eat on in the future. Not to mention, large predator wildlife will undoubtedly make their way farther into human habitat in search of food and water, which will introduce more problems.

The severity of the drought has gained attention from President Obama, who visited the state recently to speak with farmers and develop a plan to combat the issues. The president has not yet introduced measures to save as much of the wildlife as possible, though that is not to say that he will not acknowledge their plight in the near future. The California drought is severe and dangerous, affecting everything from humans to wildlife. Time will tell what is to come of the state before the drought is finally quenched.

By Courtney Heitter

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