Drought Will Impact Wildlife Habitats in Texas for Years To Come

Texas' record drought will damage entire ecosystems for years to come.

"CANADIAN, Texas — In a muddy pile of sand where a pond once flowed in the Texas Panhandle, dead fish, their flesh already decayed and feasted on by maggots, lie with their mouths open. Nearby, deer munch on the equivalent of vegetative junk food and wild turkeys nibble on red harvester ants — certainly not their first choice for lunch.

As the state struggles with the worst one-year drought in its history, entire ecosystems, from the smallest insects to the largest predators, are struggling for survival. The foundations of their habitats — rivers, springs, creeks, streams and lakes — have turned into dry sand, wet mud, trickling springs or, in the best case, large puddles.

“It has a compound effect on a multitude of species and organisms and habitat types because of the way that it’s chained and linked together,” said Jeff Bonner, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Since January, Texas has only gotten about 6 inches of rain, compared to a norm of about 13 inches, making it the most severe one-year drought on record. Last week, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said the La Nina weather pattern blamed for the lack of rain might be back soon, and if that happens, the dry spell would almost certainly extend into 2012."

Ramit Plushnick-Masti reports for the Associated Press August 8, 2011.

Source: AP, 08/09/2011