Mississippi wildlife impacted by Great Flood of 2011 - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi wildlife impacted by Great Flood of 2011

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Humans were not the only ones fleeing the floodwaters as the Mississippi River showed it's might and now Mississippi's wildlife is again having to adjust.

"Everybody is working together to assess this," said Jim Walker with the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

Assessing the impact to nature's creatures isn't easy.

"You got to get boots on the ground, you've got to get out there," Walker said.

Walker says biologists are on the ground and have been ever since the water began to drop back to normal levels.

Fortunately, Walker says most animals, like bears, alligators and deer were able to escape the rising water.

The major concern at this point is the turkey population.

"We probably lost some turkey hatches and we'll have to make some adjustments in the season for it," Walker said.

There are some signs of promise from the murky water.

Walker says nutrients were left behind, which means food crops will reap the benefits.

"We expect to have banner food supply, more than ample food supply for the next well for a long time to come because of the re-fertilization of the area," Walker said.

Working with private land owners, who hold most of the land along the Mississippi, Walker says a close eye is being kept on deer populations.

"There are some indications that we've had some mortality from the dear but nothing major," Walker said.

At this point, hunting season is aimed to open right on time, which means big money for the state. 

"Hunting is a huge economic impact in this state," Walker said. "Millions of dollars in tax revenue, thousands of jobs, all the way from the guy who sales the 4x4 truck down to Mom and Pop selling the sausage biscuit in the morning."

With the water still receding in some places Walker says biologists aren't able to get to all of the areas they want to, but will eventually, with each step a better understanding of what the Mississippi can do.

A post-flood wildlife seminar is also set for next month on August 17 in Stoneville, to discuss overall impacts the flood has had on wildlife.

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