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Weathering severe weather

November 8, 2012

While many animals weather unusual events like last week’s hurricane better than humans do, there are impacts nonetheless that affect wildlife in various ways.

In addition to potentially dangerous factors such as toppled or dangling trees and downed powerlines, some species, such as tree-nesting birds, may lose the shelter of their homes. Others may be forced to adapt to serious habitat destruction.

Near Milford, PA, Bill Streeter of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center reports that a bald eagle nest across from River Beach Campgrounds blew down in the storm. Since then, one of the adult birds has been perched in a tree next to where its nest used to be.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reports that Hurricane Sandy has “wreaked havoc” on the state’s fish, wildlife and marine species and their habitats. Staff are working to restore wastewater treatment plants and to respond to spills. In the Hudson Valley, DEC and private wildlife rehabilitators have been helping waterfowl survive their exposure to toxic oil and wastewater spills.

In addition to being disoriented following Hurricane Sandy, white-tailed deer are already on the move because fall is breeding time. Males are particularly distracted as they search for mates. The combination increases the risk of deer-vehicle collisions, especially between the hours around dusk and dawn, when deer feed. According to the DEC, an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur throughout the state each year, mostly between October and December.

To reduce the risk of a collision, the DEC advises motorists to use extreme caution at dawn and dusk, slow down when approaching deer near the roadside, watch for more than one deer to cross the road (since they travel in groups) and flash headlights to warn other drivers after you spot deer.

Visit DEC’s Storm Information webpage at www.dec.ny.gov/public/76659.html for storm impacts and to view a gallery of storm-related images.