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Nevada Drought Pushing Wildlife Closer to Human Life

PHOTO: The Nevada Department of Wildlife warns residents can expect more contact with deer, rattlesnakes, black bears and other animals as drought pushes wildlife into populated areas in search of food and water. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
PHOTO: The Nevada Department of Wildlife warns residents can expect more contact with deer, rattlesnakes, black bears and other animals as drought pushes wildlife into populated areas in search of food and water. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
July 8, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada's ongoing, severe drought is causing food shortages pushing wildlife closer to populated areas occupied by humans.

Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife says ultra-dry conditions are causing mule deer, elk, black bears, coyotes, and rattlesnakes to seek food and water wherever it's available. He says urban areas can provide animals with water, plus insects, grass and other food sources in short supply in the state's forests, deserts and other wild areas.

"If you're a rattlesnake, field mouse, field rat or a rabbit, you're going to go where the groceries are," says Healy. "And in this case, the groceries are the water, the green in the grass, and those places where you can find something to eat, as well as a place to stay cool and find water."

Healy says Nevada's mule deer population, numbering about 108,000 today, is down by about 4,000 due to the drought over the last several years. He adds that the dry conditions are likely to cause populations of several animal species to decline in the next several months.

"We're not going to see die-offs now," says Healy, "but we're setting the table for possible die-offs of animals of all species once we get into a harsh winter situation - which eventually will come."

Healy says his agency is trying to get the word out to the public that there will likely be more contact between animals and people as the drought continues to push wildlife into civilization.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV