Summer heat waves not only affect people, but also wildlife.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Spokesperson Micah Holmes said most wildlife are normally fine with extreme temperatures, as warm and cold cycles are a part of nature.
“Wildlife generally adapts to the heat and the drought much better than we do,” said Holmes
While wildlife is able to accommodate the heat, other factors, such as droughts, can be a bigger issue for animals. Due to decreases in water levels, water fowl and fish can especially be impacted. Holmes said ground-nesting birds, such as quail and turkey, can be affected by the general heat. When it’s extremely hot, the insect population is lower, meaning less food for quail and turkey and affecting the overall species health and population.
Holmes said if people want to help wildlife during these times, the best thing to do is to maintain a good habitat. This can be done by getting rid of invasive species, not allowing property to be overgrazed, and keeping red cedars under control.
Cherokee County Game Warden Cody Youngblood said it’s also advisable to provide wildlife with water sources. An example would be setting up a bird bath for animals to drink out of, or for smaller wildlife to cool down in.
According to the WildCare Foundation, providing water in shaded areas of someone’s property can allow for wildlife to have an area to rest and hydrate. The foundation also mentions that smaller wildlife, such as frogs, rabbits, and turtles, may use areas of tall grass for shelter. Individuals can spray the area with a hose and wait to trim the grass to offer the animals an addition place to rest.
Picking up and transporting animals by themselves should not be done, Youngblood said, especially if the animal is young. Leaving the wildlife where it was found the best course of action, as the animal’s mother is probably close by.
“They may have good intentions, but they usually end up doing more harm than good,” said Youngblood.
With the hot weather, wildlife activity is lessened during the day. This is because the wildlife moves in the earlier hours of the day and at night, so it is not as hot for them.
Youngblood said people should be cautious and watchful of ditches when driving during those times, because wildlife, such as deer, might be crossing the road or grazing for greener grass in the area.
If any wild animal is found to be injured, individuals can contact their local game wardens or a licensed rehabilitator at https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/.