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Excessive heatwaves impact on Idaho's wildlife

Posted at 4:15 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 18:17:38-04

IDAHO — From people to pets and wildlife, we're all trying to find relief from the current heatwave. But just like us, wildlife can experience heat stress too.

“Wildlife has much of the same problems. They are going to alter their behavior, so they are not moving around during the hottest part of the day so they are going to try and seek areas where they can stay as cool as possible,” Bob Collier, University of Idaho's Department Head of Animals, Veterinary, and Food Sciences said.

If wildlife isn't able to find ways to stay cool, it can negatively impact their well-being.

“We also see more health issues. We see more disease when animals are heat-stressed because they will seek environments that aren’t healthy for them,” Collier said.

Heat also impacts how and when the animals find food.

"They’ll also reduce their feed intake to lower their heat production and take advantage of nighttime feeding, so they will spend more time at night out in the open feeding than say during the day," Collier said.

But wildlife can adapt quite well to their environment, and one way they protect themselves from this heat is moving around to find sources of food, water and ways to cool off.

"Wild animals have some advantage to move around more than domesticated animals which tend to housed in pens or certain fields, so their movement isn't as restricted," Collier said.

But with all that movement, don't be surprised if you find them in your backyard.

“Because of drought they might try to find sources of water in yards or other areas they normally wouldn’t be found,” Collier said.

Most wildlife is harmless and should be left alone when searching for food, water, or seeking shelter. Leaving water out can help them during these scorching hot days.

If you are concerned about them being in your neighborhood or backyard, call 911 in an emergency or Idaho Fish and Game headquarters at (208) 334-3700.