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Receding flood waters from Harvey turning up unexpected wildlife

An agitated cottonmouth (water moccasin) makes its presence known at Brazos Bend State Park in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Displaced snakes may show up in unexpected places as flood waters recede, warn state wildlife officials. (Photo courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)

Biologists with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department are cautioning Texans to be aware of unexpected animals seeking shelter in yards or homes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

TPWD says encounters with various wildlife should be expected as flood waters recede and people begin sorting through the damage the storm left behind.

“People should be aware that snakes and other wildlife, including skunks and raccoons, may approach or enter yards and houses seeking cover or higher ground,” said John Davis, TPWD Wildlife Diversity program director. “Over time, displaced wildlife will return to their usual habitats.”

The department says residents should be aware that snakes and other animals may seek shelter in debris piles and caution should be used during cleanup efforts, and displaced alligators, bats, deer, and snapping turtles are something that Texans should be on the lookout for.

A snake in the yard is not a cause for panic,” he says. “They don’t want to be there, either, and if left alone will usually leave on their own. You’re more likely to come upon a skunk, a mound of fire ants or a wasp nest in a brush pile than a venomous snake. If you do have an encounter with a problem snake, seek help from local animal control or licensed snake removal experts.

During floods, alligators may disperse into areas where they aren't normally observed, according to Jonathan Warner, TPWD Alligator Program Leader.

“Alligators are wary of people but keep your distance,” says Warner. “Never approach, harass or feed an alligator. When water levels recede, the alligator will likely disappear as well.”

TPWD reminds residents that alligators are a protected game species as well as an integral part of the ecosystem in southeast Texas.

For tips on encounters with wildlife in Texas, click here.

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