Game Wardens urge Harvey victims to watch for wildlife

Texas Game Wardens wrangle an alligator near where Hurricane Harvey flooded a southeast Texas neighborhood. (Texas Parks and Wildlife Photo)
Texas Game Wardens wrangle an alligator near where Hurricane Harvey flooded a southeast Texas neighborhood. (Texas Parks and Wildlife Photo)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As Texans continue to clean up after Hurricane Harvey, Texas Parks and Wildlife wants to remind people that animals were also impacted by the storm.

“A lot of folks are going to be going back [to their homes] and they are going to be focused on cleaning up the mess in the aftermath of the floods,” TPWD spokesperson Steve Lightfoot said. “But they are not going to be focused on is keeping a vigilant eye out for critters that might wander up into their households and backyards.”

Lightfoot said Game Wardens came across numerous species—some cuter than others—looking for relief from the flooding in Houston and debris along the Coastal Bend.

“We’ve got a population of about 100,000 alligators and when the water came up they’ve got to go someplace as well,” Lightfoot said. “They are not going to want to be there any longer than they have to, so we are revising folks just to give them a wide berth, let them have their space, and they’ll go back to where they belong once the water goes down.”

While most animals generally want to avoid contact, Lightfoot said residents should still be vigilant.

“These fire ants are balling up and moving to higher ground as well,” he mentioned. “You step in a pile of those you’ll feel it pretty quick.”

To combat the influx of mosquitoes, the state is starting aerial mosquito spraying this week.

“Fortunately the bat populations that we have down there, those are our number one help for controlling mosquito populations, they made it through okay down in the Houston area, so we are excited about that,” said Lightfoot.

He said TPWD received calls about squirrels displaced from nests and trees, as well as snakes.

“Snakes obviously are always a concern but be advised that not every snake is a bad snake. There are a lot of snakes that are non-venomous in Texas and they do help with certain things, and they have a place in the ecosystem as well.”

“A snake in the yard is not a cause for panic,” TPWD Wildlife Diversity program director John Davis said in a media release. “They don’t want to be there, either, and if left alone will usually leave on their own. You’re more likely to come upon a skunk, a mound of fire ants or a wasp nest in a brush pile than a venomous snake. If you do have an encounter with a problem snake, seek help from local animal control or licensed snake removal experts.”

According to TPWD, tips and precautions about encounters with wildlife are available online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/rehab/orphan/.

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