BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries detailed a number of issues wild animals face if the Morganza Spillway opens.
"When the Morganza opens, the species most affected will be the White Tailed Deer," says Wildlife and Fisheries Public Information Director Trey Iles.
In a meeting on Thursday, The La. Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted to close deer hunting season in areas that will be directly impacted by the opening of the spillway. A list of areas impacted by the vote can be found HERE. That closure will be in effect until 30 minutes after sunset on the day the Morganza Spillway is opened.
The Department's biologist director Scott Durham says that deer are strong swimmers and will start swimming should the water rise. Durham notes that despite their adaption to flood waters, some deer could die if the water rises too fast.
Durham also said that smaller animals like rabbits are good swimmers and can ride out the flooding on stumps, logs, and floating debris. He added that black bear in the area will climb trees to safety, and turkeys will fly away to find shelter.
If the water stays high for too long, however, animals may become stressed and not able to feed as they usually do. Durham also says that animals face could face difficulties in regulating their body temperature, as well as a change in habitat due to the flooding event.
State officials say that it is not known if the Morganza Spillway will open, but if it does, it will need to open Wednesday at the earliest.