Drought Conditions Spell Trouble for Wildlife Survival

POSTED: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 3:34pm

UPDATED: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 4:16pm

EL PASO- Rain showers over the past few weeks have helped take the edge off our historic drought, but not a whole lot.

Rain gauges at the El Paso airport show this year's rain total is only about half what it should be by the middle of August. Things are even worse in southern New Mexico, where climatologists place in the "exceptional" drought category and in their vocabulary, exceptional is as bad as a drought gets. The dry conditions are affecting wildlife here in the Borderland.

The desert is home to many rodents, a wide range of reptiles and small to large mammals like foxes, badgers and deer. The dry weather has led to smaller amounts of food and water to sustain the animals. While some have adapted better than others, experts say one particular animal is scarcer this year.

"Deer are larger animals and are herbivores and they need plants to survive. With no plants and no food, it's decimating the population," says Dr. Cesar Mendez, of the State Parks Division.

Doctor Mendez says that without substantial rains, migrating birds like cranes and snow geese will be forced further south this winter.

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