Will Drought Affect Wild Animals?


POSTED: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 5:36pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 8:24am

EL PASO- Two weeks ago that mountain lion sauntered into downtown, apparently in search of food and drink.  Will desperation drive other wildlife off the mountain and into the big city?

Rangers from Franklin State Park say the drought is a major concern for wildlife and admit it could force animals inside the park to venture outside in search of some water.

It's dry up in the Franklins.  Really, really dry.  A short hike begs a cool glass of water, and animals feel it too.

Robert Pichardo is the head Ranger in Franklin State Park and knows the wildlife inside and out.

"Water is life.  And without water, it is going to stress out some of the wildlife out here," Pichardo says.

A few weeks ago, a mountain lion wreaked havoc downtown.  Local experts say it might have been looking for water, unable to find it elsewhere.

But he says a lack of water could have played a part, and said humans would do the same thing.

"If they closed a grocery store on the corner, we're going to venture out a couple of blocks for our food," Pichardo says.

So what if the dry weather continues?  Will drought force animals to wander out of the wilderness and onto Main Street?

"It can in some degree.  They're going to search for water sources wherever they can find it," said another Ranger we spoke to.

For his part, Pichardo thinks there's enough water in the park for now.  The tree that it sits on top of is a natural spring area, that currently has a lot of water bubbling up.

But if animals don't want to hike that far, there's a closer option.  There is a man-made little stream a half mile inside the park.

But if the drought continues, things might take a turn for the worse.

"Come July, August, if we don't get any rain or enough rain, then I'll be nervous and worried," Pichardo says.

Pichardo also pointed out that animals in the desert are used to dry conditions, so they're well suited to weather a drought, up to a point.

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Bob Pichardo's a good man. The best. Known him since we was kids too.

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