Flooded Wildlife Don't Need Rescue
Posted: 06/30/2011
DES MOINES – People aren’t the only ones stranded by the flood. For the last few weeks as the water spreads, the questions pour in to DNR offices: “What do I do with fawns that have been flooded out?” “Can anyone take care of rabbits that are surrounded by water?”

In most cases, the answer is, “Leave them alone.”

Many of the calls come from people concerned about fawns, some of them born this week, says Angi Bruce, a DNR wildlife biologist in Des Moines. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen people try to rescue fawns – which almost guarantees their death.”

Bruce spent 15 years in southwest Iowa. On a trip west last week, she was surprised to see the deer staying so close to the river.

“But deer are strong swimmers and capable of swimming across the Missouri or Mississippi during normal conditions,” she said. “So they are not afraid of water and they can find food at the water’s edge, moving back with the waters.”
The best thing well meaning people can do when they find a fawn curled up and unmoving in the grass is to leave it alone. Likely the mother is off eating and predators won’t be able to smell the baby, so it will be safe as long as it lies still. When a well meaning hiker, land owner or rescue worker finds an “abandoned” fawn, if the fawn is lucky, they won’t “rescue it.”

For other wildlife species displaced by the flooding, it is much the same story. In most cases, the best thing you can do is observe, enjoy the scene for a while and move on. For most species, not many young make it through the first year. It’s the way Nature works. One species is often dinner for the next species. If healthy and not restricted, that wildlife baby’s chance of survival is a lot better... without you.

For some species, particularly amphibians like leopard frogs, western chorus frogs and tiger salamanders, floods are a bonanza – yielding the right moisture and breeding conditions for a huge hatch and population explosion. For these species, the flood’s timing couldn’t be more ideal.