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Environmentalism – Chapter 26 Drought in America

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One would believe that with all the recent destructive weather patterns and heavy rain fall in the United States that the rivers would be over flowing to almost flood level. Little did we know that this is not the case and should there not be an increase in rainfall soon to replenish the local state rivers and reservoirs to lakes in the centre state of the United States then we are going to be looking at quite a few problems on our hands with displaced biodiversity, botanical species vanishing, insects moving out of the area thus placing a strain on crops that depend on them, and aquatic species of river fish gone, to agricultural animals dead from severe dehydration.

From 2009-2011 the United States as documented last month was severely hit by a multitude of weather fronts bringing in flooding, typhoons, hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy transpiration however in 2011 and then 2012 the summers where intense causing colossal crop and agricultural damage, lowering rivers and reservoirs, placing the nation in to now a water shortage crisis of which droughts have been declared over almost half of the United States. Alaska is fairly untouched by the droughts with only 1% of the Alaska actually affected of which the drought [water shortage] is expected to persist or intensify.

Hawaii has not been left untouched either and is like most parts of the United States under a drought “even in the winter”. Mainly on the west coast the droughts are likely to persist or intensify that’s causing some alarm now with agriculturists and cattle farmers, to home owners, river watch schemes, importers and exporters that use the lakes and rivers to move stock across.

Conservationists and climatologists from International Animal Rescue Foundation © have been monitoring the situation along with meteorologists and animal welfare of which the river levels have not changed in western America for the past 12 months and are unlikely to change until we see heavy but prolonged rainfall over a large time frame.

From the 7th February 2013 to the April 2013 the following areas that I have briefly listed below are on drought watch based on up to date accurate weather and river level recordings from the United States government, and local non-related conservation teams.

  • Florida needs to now be on alert for droughts that are likely to occur with the entire state of Florida now on yellow watch. The very tip of Florida near Miami and the Everglades National Park has been noted that droughts in this region are likely to intensify and persist.
  • Georgia and South Carolina are on red watch with droughts likely to persist and severely intensify, with no reports of real concern in North Carolina.
  • Atlanta is on orange watch with droughts on-going although some are likely to [improve] over a set time it is still unclear when.
  • Charlotte though is looking fairly clear and green with drought likely to improve with impacting damaging easing considerably even though it is next to a relatively drought hit area.
  • Alabama is on orange watch with droughts on-going however there is likelihood of some improvement in the area.
  • From the tip of Louisiana to the tip of New York the entire states between this safe-line are “fairly unaffected with only Florida now on severe drought watch [and that needs to be taken seriously]
  • However moving west we see the real problems, with the entire west states of America stretching from Texas to New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Dakota all on major red watch with rivers running rapidly dry.
  • Wisconsin and North Dakota are lush and green with droughts improving and impacting drought damage decreasing by the month. Lake Michigan is “satisfactory” although we would like to see more rain fall in this area, sadly we are not god and cannot make that happen.
  • The Rio Grande is exceptionally worrying to us as like Florida as that is now on imminent drought watch with drought expected to hit at any time with no predictions of when or how long such drought will persist, International Animal Rescue Foundation advises all agriculturalists in this area to arrange other forms of transport and not use barges to transport goods, and to improve on land irrigation, mulching and water retention as and when it occurs.
  • The entire state of New Mexico is classed now as a serious area of watch with droughts are likely to persist and/or intensify dramatically.
  • Idaho – Washington and Montana are “fairly ok” although this area is not of concern we are monitoring San Francisco, California, Los Angeles, and San Diego that are now like Florida and Rio Grande on yellow watch with droughts likely to develop. We ask all agriculturist’s in these states to be prepared, seek alternative road transport and not river barge transport, monitor your local river levels and if you can rain fall too. Please ensure that irrigation is working and not blocked. We have now left these areas however we would like to view your readings for future predictions. Please email our international conservation investigation team here –  externalaffairs@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

State tension – Rivers on watch;

  • CATAWBA RIVER – South Carolina vs. North Carolina river concerns are growing that North Carolina proposed hydropower plant on the Catawba River would reduce flow and harm water quality and wildlife. Neighbouring South Carolina objected to this. The US Supreme Court ruled in South Carolinas favour in 2009, blocking construction of the plant.
  • LAKE MICHIGAN – States bordering the great lakes have drawn up a legal contract to share the water that feeds the lake. Now the city of Waukesha in Wisconsin wants to divert more water to its supply, citing drought. Should that application get the go ahead, and to many other cites follow suit tensions are likely to mount.
  • RIO GRANDE – Texas and New Mexico are in dispute over their shares of water into the Rio Grande, governed by an agreement dating back from 1938. The Lone Star state, which is downstream from New Mexico, has asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
  • Missouri and Mississippi Rivers – The shipping industry wants congress to order the release of more water from the Missouri river into the Mississippi, to keep to keep navigation channels open in the face of drought. That could trigger lawsuits from upstream states including North and South Dakota, which rely on high water levels in the Missouri for agriculture.
  • RED RIVER- The Supreme Court from the Tarrant Regional Water District in Northern Texas, which wants Oklahoma to supply it with water from tributaries that flow into the Red River, on the border between the two states. Success for Texas could spark further law suits between neighbouring states.
  •  CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER – Atlanta’s ever increasing demands for water from the Chattahoochee river in Georgia have angered downstream Florida and Alabama, since 1990, there have been multiple lawsuits. Currently, the US Army Corps of Engineers is studying how best to allocate water among the three states.

Within the news recently it was reported that blizzards have hit the north east, however across much of the country the most widespread drought in more than half a century is still biting with the water ways being the most badly hit.

Lake Michigan and Huron hit their lowest levels on record, with the US Corps of Engineers dredging the Mississippi and blasting away rock formations on the river bed to maintain the three metre depth that barges need to ferry exports to the coast.

Growing urban water demands have long clashed with the needs of agricultural and navigation, and climate change is expected to increase the tension causing wilder swings between drought and flood even in regions that may not get drier overall. It’s predicted that water shortages are going to intensify unless climate change is dealt with on an erratic bur controlled basis and more people in the United States cut their carbon emissions down drastically and immediately.

How is this effecting wildlife though?

In a statement issued April 2012 by the Missouri State it quoted the following;

PLEASE NOTE INTERNATIONAL ANIMAL RESCUE FOUNDATION © DOES NOT SUPPORT CERTAIN VIEWS AND COMMENTS IN THIS REPORT THAT ARE NOT BASED ON UP TO DATE BIODIVERSITY SCIENCE AND WATER WAYS MANAGEMENT/CONTROL. THE VIEWS ARE BASED ON THE NARRATOR  AND DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES REFLECT WHAT OUR OWN SCIENTISTS VIEW AND WORK ON DAILY.  

Everything from trees to fish are feeling the pinch of heat and drought, and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is tracking the effects of extreme summer weather and doing what it can to help people and nature.

The period from January through June was the hottest on record nationally. June was the sixth-driest on record in Missouri. The Show-Me State’s last rainfall of state wide significance fell on May 7. Meanwhile, extreme heat, wind and unusually low humidity have sapped what little moisture once existed in the state’s soil.

One-hundred degree-plus temperatures began in June and lingered into August. In July alone, temperatures topped 100 degrees on 15 days in central Missouri.

As of July 24 2012, the National Climate Data showed the entire state of Missouri as being in at least severe drought. More than two-thirds of the state was in extreme drought, and the Bootheel and adjacent counties were in an exceptional drought, the most severe classification recognized by the National Climatic Data Centre.

The National Weather Service’s long-range forecast is for drought conditions to persist or intensify across Missouri. No significant increase in precipitation is anticipated before October.

FORESTS

Missouri forests were stressed by several factors even before the drought set in. Most of the state suffered a severe, late freeze in 2007, killing flower and leaf buds on many trees. Multiple ice storms that same year wrecked hundreds of thousands of trees over large swaths of Missouri, and a freak windstorm, known as a derecho, flattened trees across parts of the eastern Ozarks in 2009.

The period from 2008 to 2010 set records for rainfall. Then, in 2011, the weather abruptly turned hot and dry, a trend that has worsened this year. Forests in south eastern and south western Missouri are hardest hit by drought, but trees are suffering state wide.

As if weather challenges weren’t enough, Missouri witnessed the emergence of a brood of periodical cicadas that covered most of the state in 2011, followed by an outbreak of jumping oak gall wasps and defoliating insects.

Nick Kuhn quoted;

“All in all, it has been an extremely tough five years for Missouri forests,” says Forestry Field Programs Supervisor Nick Kuhn. “While it is still too early to know exactly how severe the effects will be, we expect to see some reduction in acorn and nut production. That could be a concern for animals that depend on acorns and other nuts for food, and for Missouri’s nut industry.”

Kuhn says many trees are dropping their leaves early to cope with the heat and drought. Shedding leaves reduces the amount of water trees lose through evaporation, helping them survive. However some trees will succumb to drought.

Kuhn says the drought will be hardest on old trees and those already weakened by disease or parasites. Trees growing on west- and south-facing slopes will face greater drought challenges, as will trees that are crowded or poorly adapted to the sites where they are growing. The drought underscores the importance of proper forest management and working with a professional forest to properly manage forests.

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Drought’s in the U.S.A attributed to many cattle losing dying, pic from 2011

Gillespie Livestock Company in Fredericksburg

“Landowners can help their forests be more resilient to insect and drought stresses through proper management,” says MDC Forest Products Program Supervisor Jason Jensen. “Forests need management much the same as a garden or any other crop. When left unmanaged, forests become overcrowded. Trees all compete for water, nutrients and sunlight. When there are too many trees competing for these limited resources, the trees will become stressed and won’t be as healthy and productive as a managed forest. Trees in well-managed forests grow faster and provide better wildlife habitat.”

HOWEVER –

For landowners who are interested in managing their forest or are seeing trees that have died as a result of the drought, a timber sale may be in order. Landowners should seek the assistance of a professional forester when considering a timber sale. MDC has foresters available to assist landowners. To find a forester in your county go to http://www.mdc.mo.gov and select “Who’s My Local Contact.” Private consulting foresters are also available to assist landowners. To find a consulting forester in your area go to http://www.missouriforesters.com.

The on-going drought also has heightened wildfire danger. Unlike western states, Missouri’s primary wildfire season is late winter. Once trees leaf out, the shade they provide causes humidity levels on the forest floor to increase, reducing fire danger. This year is an exception. MDC saw a 150-percent increase in the number of reported fires from May through June. This does not include fires on the 1.5-million acre Mark Twain National Forest. Since Jan. 1, MDC has recorded 2,280 fires affecting 26,944 acres. Those fires destroyed 15 homes and l51 outbuildings and damaged 331 other structures.

Causes of these fires included:

  • Debris Burning – 794 fires consuming 4,942 acres
  • Equipment Use – 154 fires consuming 1,937 acres
  • Arson – 117 fires consuming 4,470 acres
  • Smoking – 49 fires consuming 189 acres
  • Campfire – 34 fires consuming 82 acres
  • Children – 34 fires consuming 83 acres
  • Lightning – 23 fires consuming 75 acres
  • Railroad – 7 fires consuming 38 acres
  • Miscellaneous causes – 1,068 fires consuming 15,129 acres

Compared to a normal year, total burned acreage has tripled. MDC normally sends crews to help fight fires in the western United States, but this year the agency’s entire force of 754 fire fighters is at home, responding to calls for help from local fire departments.

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A plane dumps fire retardant on a 30-acre grass fire in Leander on Monday, August 15, 2011.

The blaze destroyed 15 homes displacing many people and cattle.

MDC has mutual aid agreements with more than 800 fire departments and has assigned approximately $70 million in federal excess property equipment to these partners for wildfire suppression. MDC also provides training to volunteer firefighters and awards an average of $400,000 in cost-share grants annually to fire departments to purchase wild-land fire suppression equipment.

Burn bans across most of the state discourage trash burning or any other open fire. MDC has banned open fires on all conservation areas.

“Everyone needs to be extra careful when working or playing outside,” says Forestry Field Programs Supervisor Ben Webster. “It doesn’t take much to start a wildfire.”

At home and on the farm, barbecue grills should not be left unattended. Exercise extreme caution when using farm machinery, mowers or other equipment that could strike a spark or put hot engine parts in contact with dry vegetation. This includes driving vehicles off road. Smokers are urged to put cigarette butts in ashtrays rather than discarding them along roadways. Homeowners should visit http://www.mdc.mo.gov/node/5290 and use the Firewise checklist there to ensure that you can protect your property from wildfire.

WILDLIFE

Native wildlife is well-adapted to the range of conditions that can occur in Missouri. That does not mean, however, that weather does not affect animals, which may have to alter normal behaviour patterns to meet their needs for food, water and shelter.

An example of such behavioural changes came to light recently when Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer attached a video camera to the radio collar he placed on a black bear. When he retrieved the camera and watched the video, he discovered that the bear had spent pretty much all its time walking through the water in a small stream.

Resource Scientist Jeff Briggler’s primary area of expertise is reptiles and amphibians, but he offers a general observation about how current weather could affect human interaction with wildlife.

“Wild animals need water, which is extremely scarce right now,” says Briggler. “People have plenty of water, and watered lawns and gardens, birdbaths, even air-conditioners that drip water are very attractive to all kinds of wildlife.”

Briggler says people shouldn’t be surprised to find squirrels munching their tomatoes or box turtles and frogs around backyard water features. Similarly, cool basements may attract animals trying to escape the heat.

“If an animal can’t get far enough underground to get away from the heat and find moisture in their normal home area, they have to look for someplace they can,” says Briggler.

Deer are traveling farther than usual for this time of year and moving during times of day when they ordinarily would be inactive. Aquatic turtles must move or die when ponds or streams where they live dry up. On the other hand, smaller, less mobile animals, such as frogs, often take the opposite approach, hunkering down to wait out the heat.

Hummingbirds go where there is food, and this summer that means forests, especially around permanent bodies of water, where flowering plants remain available. As a result, fewer hummingbirds are visiting nectar feeders in dry upland areas, causing some people to wonder what has become of the little birds.

Wildlife Ecologist Brad Jacobs urges people to leave hummingbird feeders out well into the fall, however.

“The southern migration of hummingbirds has begun,” says Jacobs, “with increasing reports of adult and young birds at nectar feeders. Artificial feeders are a welcome supplement for migrating hummers. The ruby-throats will be mostly gone by October, but several other western hummingbird species pass through Missouri on up until early December, and they might just stop by a feeder if you leave one out for them.”

Jacobs says the current weather has the opposite effect on birds whose primary foods are seeds and insects. Shortages of these staple foods have meant capacity crowds at well-stocked feeding stations. Putting out black-oil sunflower seeds, seed mixes and suet blocks almost guarantees that mobs of birds will visit your feeder.

Likewise, people are reporting seeing more herons this year. Jacobs says the long-legged wading birds are not more numerous this year. They simply are more visible because they are concentrated around limited water. Shallow, shrunken pools present a bonanza for these predators of fish and amphibians.

Waterfowl hunters have been encouraged by news that near-record numbers of ducks will head south from nesting grounds in the northern United States and Canada this year. However, reduced availability of agricultural crops and natural food plants on wetland areas could prevent ducks from lingering in Missouri long enough to provide much hunting opportunity.

Keeping wetland areas wet enough for ducks could be a problem if the drought continues. Low water levels in streams and wells have raised concerns about the availability of water later in the fall at managed wetland areas, including Bob Brown, Nodaway Valley, Fountain Grove and Otter Slough.

On the other hand, low water levels allow maintenance work on boat ramps and other areas that normally are too wet. Lack of moisture also permits habitat work in areas where soil normally remains saturated throughout the summer and provides opportunities to control invasive plants.

For all these reasons, the quality of this year’s waterfowl hunting remains a question mark in spite of the abundance of ducks.

Resource Scientist Emily Flinn specializes in deer biology and management. She does not expect big changes in deer numbers on account of this year’s weather.

“Deer are resilient animals and have dealt with extreme conditions for millions of years,” she says. “Although fawn survival can be affected by drought, the mild winter and early spring green-up allowed the deer population to enter the summer in excellent body condition. So I doubt that fawn recruitment will be significantly affected statewide.”

Flinn says epizootic hemorrhagic disease and blue tongue (another hemorrhagic disease) always are concerns in drought years, because deer have more opportunity to transmit diseases when they are crowded around limited water supplies. She noted that hemorrhagic diseases are different and unrelated to chronic wasting disease, or CWD.

She has received some reports of dead deer around water, which is typical of hemorrhagic diseases, but she is awaiting test results to confirm the cause. Such outbreaks are difficult to document, since affected deer typically die quickly and are immediately consumed by scavengers. Citizens who see dead or sick deer can report the sightings to the nearest MDC office.

Flinn says she is receiving a larger-than-normal number of complaints about deer damaging crops. She attributes this to reduced availability of other natural foods. At this time of year, deer normally are browsing on plant leaves, buds and fruits.

MDC provides landowners considerable ability to manage deer by providing depredation permits to address localized crop damage and free or low-cost deer hunting permits during the hunting seasons. Flinn stresses that it is important for neighbors to work together to manage deer in their area.

MDC is working with landowners to encourage quality deer management at the community level. Several deer-management landowner cooperatives have started across the state where landowners are working together to better manage the local deer herd.

“Deer hunting is a rich tradition in Missouri and important to our economy,” says Flinn. “MDC wants neighbors talking to each other about how they can work together to better manage the local deer herd “and we’re here to help.”

MDC is hosting four deer-management workshops in August and September that will focus on managing deer on private land. For details, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/18243. For more information on deer landowner cooperatives, contact your county private land conservationist using the “Who’s My Local Contact” link at http://www.mdc.mo.gov.

Weather conditions do affect deer behavior, and Missourians might be seeing evidence of that as deer travel longer distances to find food and water. This could result in deer being active throughout the day, rather than just from dusk to dawn, as they normally are.

One thing that is unlikely to be affected by weather is the size of bucks’ antlers. Flinn notes that deer in Texas showed no change in antler growth last year after experiencing a record drought.

“Again,” says Flinn, “the mild winter and early spring allowed deer to store nutrients and enter the summer in great body condition. I don’t think hunters are going to see any effect on antler size related to the drought and heat.” For the same reason, Flinn said deer don’t need supplemental feeding.

“We do not need to provide supplemental food or water sources,” says Flinn. “This mainly increases the risk of disease spread, which could cause more harm than good.”

Resource Scientist Beth Emmerich says warm, dry weather early in the nesting season gave wild turkeys, quail, pheasant and other upland birds a much needed break from the wet, cold weather that has plagued them in recent years. She says quail should have no trouble finding food because grasshoppers – one of their staple foods – are abundant.

“Most people I’ve talked to are seeing and hearing more quail than they have in the last several years, when it was wetter,” says Emmerich. “It should be good for rabbits, pheasants and other upland wildlife, too. Quail can tolerate periods of dry weather well, as they get their water from dew and food. The mild winter, coupled with a dry summer should be good news for them. I have my hopes up for good survival of quail chicks this year.”

FISH

The most dramatic effects of the current drought on fish and other aquatic life are occurring in ponds, small lakes and streams. Fisheries biologists across the state report increased incidence of fish kills in small impoundments.

Although the number of fish kills is up, such events are normal occurrences in Missouri. In most cases, fish die because they can’t get enough oxygen. Warm water holds less oxygen than cool water, so hot weather is naturally more stressful. Fish usually can cope with this unless other factors come into play.

Warm, fertile water sometimes promotes excessive growth of tiny aquatic plants known as algae. That’s fine as long as the sun shines and the tiny plants are using sunlight to put oxygen in the water. But cloudy weather turns algae from oxygen producers into oxygen consumers, so a couple of overcast days can have disastrous results for fish.

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This corn stalk is typical of the condition of hundreds of acres of corn that was destroyed by drought on this farm in Round Rock on Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fish gulping air at the surface of a pond is an early warning of an impending kill. Sometimes pond owners can improve the situation by running an outboard boat motor with the propeller close enough to the surface to mix air and water, increasing dissolved oxygen. However, they must be sure not to stir up mud, as this can make things worse. They also must ensure that the motor’s cooling-water intake remains submerged to avoid overheating.

Fish in large lakes are not immune to drought and heat. Most of Missouri’s large reservoirs still have reasonably good water levels, but temperatures are climbing and dissolved-oxygen levels are declining. Fish grow sluggish as water warms and oxygen grows scarce, and this makes for poor fishing. Fish also are more susceptible to diseases and parasites in tepid lakes. The longer such conditions continue, the greater the likelihood that fish will die. At present, fisheries biologists worry about the possibility of isolated die-offs of large muskellunge at Pomme de Terre or the loss of walleyes and other prized game fish at other big lakes.

Fish in streams also feel the effects of heat and drought. Streams with healthy watersheds – including good soil-conservation practices, vegetated stream-side buffer zones and trees that provide shade – generally have good water quality and avoid fish kills. But even fish in healthy streams can experience stress in extreme droughts. Trout in the Current and Niangua rivers and small spring-fed streams currently are at risk because reduced flow from springs has raised their water temperatures.

Pools that serve as refuges for fish in small streams statewide are disappearing, leaving fish with nowhere to go. Even where pools remain, severe flow reductions can leave fish vulnerable to pond-like fish kills.

Anglers may find the water level in some streams so low that boat ramps are unusable. Until the drought breaks, it’s a good idea to inspect the bottom ends of boat ramps before launching to ensure the concrete apron extends far enough to support your boat trailer.

Four of MDC’s five cold-water fish hatcheries rely on natural springs to supply water for their operations. Some of those springs are down to less than half their normal flows. This has forced some hatcheries to transfer part of their fish to Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, which has an abundant supply of cool water from Table Rock Lake. MDC’s four warm-water hatcheries are making do with reduced flows, but hatchery managers are watching conditions closely.

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A catfish can barely move on the edge of a pond in that has dwindled to just a few inches deep on Thursday, July 14, 2011, in Old Dime Box in Lee County.

“Hatchery improvements completed the past couple years, such as dissolved oxygen systems, aerators, and renovated raceways have really helped us cope with the drought and low water levels,” says Hatchery Systems Manager James Civiello. “I’d hate to imagine where we would be in this drought without the hatchery improvements.”

PRIVATE LAND

Livestock forage is critically scarce this summer, and MDC supported a request by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency to allow farmers to graze cattle on some land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and permit haying on land enrolled in the Wetland Reserve Program.

MDC also offers cost share to landowners interested in establishing native warm-season grasses for forage production. Native grasses are more drought-tolerant than introduced cool-season grasses such as brome and tall fescue. During the drought, native grasses like big bluestem and switch grass are still growing and providing forage for livestock and cover for wildlife. For more information on native warm-season grasses contact your local private land conservationist or regional MDC office.

Private Land Field Programs Supervisor Rex Martensen reminds landowners that the Missouri Wildlife Code allows them to protect crops and property from deer, bears, raccoons, coyotes, beavers and other wildlife with MDC permission. A call to the nearest MDC office is all that is needed to get help from a wildlife damage biologist.

CONCLUSION

Good news related to the drought is scarce, but there are a few silver linings. One is that ticks and mosquitoes are not as troublesome this summer as they have been in recent years. Invasive zebra mussels can’t tolerate warm water well and apparently were devastated by high water temperatures at Lake of the Ozarks last year. This year’s more extreme conditions could help contain the destructive mussels.

While individual animals and local populations may suffer, MDC experts agree that forests, fish and wildlife overall will bounce back from the current drought and heat.

“The resiliency of wild animals and the stability of natural systems is truly remarkable,” says Briggler. “Trees and animals don’t fret over the present or the future. They just persevere.”

Impacts of drought via climate change;

Drought conditions can affect wildlife populations in many ways, from changing homeland ranges in an effort to find water to creating conditions that can impact health. High temperatures and low rainfall can contribute to outbreaks of Clostridium botulinum or avian botulism, which is a bacterium that typically resides dormant in the soil. Under the right conditions, these bacteria can replicate and produce toxins. These toxins are typically concentrated in maggots and other invertebrates that feed on decaying matter that is a good source of protein for the botulism bacteria. Birds like waterfowl then ingest the toxins through feeding on these organisms or drinking infected water. Species that are most impacted by a botulism outbreak are associated with wetland communities including ducks such as mallards, wood ducks, and teal and water birds such as yellow legs, pelicans or great blue herons.

Habitat;

As drought conditions increase, the impacts on plants can be readily observed, since plants simply reduce the number of stems they produce while others shrivel and die back. This reduction in plant growth results in less available hiding cover, which could increase predation rates for wildlife as well as produce fewer flowers for insects and, as a result, less available food. Species that could be impacted by this decreased habitat quality would be ground nesting birds such as turkeys and pheasants as well as ground dwelling mammals such as ground squirrels.

Nesting birds;

The timing of this year’s drought conditions is not likely to have a significant adverse impact on nesting wildlife, since most birds have fledged the nest and are no longer confined to a specific nesting site. The potential exists, however, that high temperatures and low moisture levels can result in bird losses.

Reduced food shortages;

Extremely dry conditions also reduce the available water sources that many insects are dependent upon for a portion of their life cycle, specifically mosquitoes. Although reduced insect levels can be a positive for people getting outside in the evenings, lower insect levels for bats can mean less food and as a result, lower fat reserves for migration and hibernation. In addition to potential mortality that reduced food sources may cause, wildlife in drought conditions may also need to travel greater distances to find available food. This extra effort also subjects them to increased predation rates themselves and an increased likelihood of accidents.

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In the image above one can clearly view how drought is changing over the states of America [Please click image]

In addition to reduced insects for food, the production of other food sources – such as berries and mast, which include acorns or hickory nuts – could also be reduced. Similar to a reduction in insects, a reduction in the available berries and mast can impact wildlife by requiring additional travel to find adequate food sources, causing both mortality from increased predation or accidents as well as indirect mortality from reduced fat reserves needed for hibernation. These impacts can ultimately result in reduced number of young next year.

Another potential impact that residents in the drought areas may experience is an increase in the number of wildlife visiting yards and outbuildings searching for food and water sources. As food sources decrease in the wild, some wildlife species such as raccoons or bear may search out easier food sources such as pet food dishes, cattle troughs or gardens that are regularly watered and are producing a higher volume of berries.

Concentrating wildlife;

As drought conditions increase, much wildlife will seek alternative habitat locations where habitat conditions are more favourable for them to raise young, seek shelter and provide a water source. Some species that would concentrate in these drought conditions would include a wide array of wildlife that would frequent the remaining watering holes to wetland dependent species such as waterfowl and amphibians, specifically frogs, toads and salamanders. While the concentration of wildlife may seem like a security issue to some, it also increases predation rates as the predators also home in on concentrations of their prey species.

Combatting drought – http://drought.unl.edu/DroughtforKids/HowCanWeProtectOurselves.aspx

Reducing water loss based on the most hottest sub Saharan climates – Zimbabwe an example;

Irrigation;

Since 1991 Practical Action has been working with communities in the dry Chivi district of Zimbabwe developing and testing new approaches to overcoming the effects of droughts which affect them three years out of five.

The farmer’s main priorities from the programme were to improve crop yields and conserve water. A high level of community participation – over 1,800 people – ensured that the project reflected local priorities and built on local knowledge to conserve water, protect soil, control pests and maintain indigenous varieties of seeds.

One early successful outcome of the project was a water saving technique involving clay pipes made by the women of the community. The pipes were used to carry water underground for irrigation in order to reduce evaporation.

The results were dramatic. Crops only needed watering twice a week instead of four times and the volume of water required fell by a half.

Other methods of water conservation have also been successfully employed including ridges across furrows to trap water, infiltration pits to soak it up and mulching.

Practical solutions on reducing drought;

  • Use water convenient items such as low water showers and 4 minute timers etc. You can also wash your car say once a fortnight instead of daily.
  • Mulching with bark and other fibrous chippings to even manure will reduce fluid loss on an agricultural and domestic scale.
  • Fixing leaking tapes and pipes and reporting ALL leakages to the water board. It’s estimated that internationally we lose over 56 billion litres of water a year just from “public broken pipes” if you see it REPORT IT.
  • Use alternative fuels thus reducing increasing climate destruction that causes drought.
  • Set up on your farm and home rain water catch channels that then contain “rain water in to barrels or vast under-ground tanks” that one can then use to water their farms. International Animal Rescue Foundation © recommends that you store these tanks under-ground to reduce [evaporation] and because of the ground being much cooler and cut off from direct sunlight.
  • Sounds “dirty” but DON’T allow your shower or bath water to just filter down the plug holes, this water helps in two very important ways of which we use in one of 7 glass houses. 1) Collect all bath and shower water upon finish “even with the soap suds in”. 2) Await for this to water to cool then water your plants [it does not harm them] 3) because the water has a [now] concentrated soap in it that does not harm the plants or crop in anyway; it does actually act as an aphid control. [The soap within the water is slippery and once cooled and then watered onto plants / crops that are infested by bugs, the aphids cannot keep grip on the stems thus falling off. [We always recommend that you use biodegradable chemicals] please view here where you can purchase. http://www.charliesoap.com/kitchen_bath_cleaner.html http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/biodegradable-soap.html http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/biodegradable-house-cleaners-2264.html
  • It’s important to use biodegradable soap & cleaning products when you are re-using your bathwater to water the garden, as normal soap takes a long time to break down from complex chemicals into more useful simple substances that plant life can absorb. So I thought I would write something on biodegrable soap…first of all, look out for vegetable based solid soap like Marseille soap or glycerin soap. Glycerin soap is usually translucent. Marseille soap uses olive oil as a base. If you prefer to use liquid soap or shower gel, rather than solid soap, you can make your own shower gel by: [1] grating solid soap into flakes [2] putting these into an old shower gel bottle with some hot water [3] Shake the bottle for a few minutes and leave it to stand for a day or too. This is then ready to use. This is also good for the environment because it stops you buying shower gel bottles which then have to be recycled or just thrown away, ending up in landfill. If you can’t be bothered with that, you could use solid soap in the shower, if you have somewhere to put it… you can put in on a string and hang it up above the bath. The best way to do this is to use a screwdriver to grind a hole by hand through the centre of the bar of soap and thread some thick cord through this. It’s best to hang the soap high up so it’s not in the water stream, this way it will last longer. As for biodegradable cleaning products to clean your bath, try using soda crystals or borax. You can buy these sorts of products in cardboard boxes (again less plastic waste) from Clean and Natural by DRI PAK. If you scrub this powder onto the surface of the bath with a bit of water and leave it for a while before washing it off again, it is pretty effortless -on a par with stronger household cleaning products but with less ecological impact. These products are easy and safe to use and odourless. Soda crystals are produced by a relatively simple chemical process which means it’s more easily broken down, unlike phosphates which are found in more modern cleaning products. for more information on this subject see this page on toxic water by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)
  • Take showers not baths
  • SO you think that plants and trees only draw water in the daytime when photosynthesis a process used by plants and other organisms to convert the light energy captured from the sun into chemical energy is in operation? WRONG plant roots will not rot away if you water in the night time that is complete and utter nonsense. [Please water only in the night time and sunset] Also water in the very early hours of the morning and if you cannot be bothered to get out of bed then you can set up an irrigation pipe with timer. Here is where you can purchase that timer http://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/Sprinkler-Timers-Controllers-s/23.htm al shapes and sizes and at all prices.
  • NO Air conditioning – It’s a [luxury and not needed] use a hand fan or battery fan. Ask yourself WHY ARE YOU BOILING HOT IN YOUR HOME? Lack of ventilation? Air circulation? Or it is because you’re actually contributing to global climate temperature increase?
  • Going camping? Forget the water supply that the camp sites charge you for! PORTABLE RAIN WATER PURIFICATIONS – http://www.travelpharm.com/index.cfm/malaria/Products.List/category_id/4&referer=adwords&keyword=portable_water_purification?gclid=CM_C88-pzrUCFeXLtAodqE0AjQ

If we continue to abuse the environment then we will continue to battle for water thus leaving other community areas short or having to run on limited supply. This will in turn harm our precious biodiversity which is already in a critical state. Please act responsible and don’t ruin our planet anymore. Water shortages in the modern world are also affecting the third world nations and agriculture. Please use water responsibility.

Thank you

Dr J C Dimetri V.M.D, B.E.S, Ma, PhD, MEnvSc

info@international-animalrescue-foundation.org.uk

Who would believe there was a drought with weather like this only 4 days ago;

IF WE CONTINUE TO ABUSE THIS PLANET THEN MOTHER NATURE WILL FIGHT BACK WITH DEADLY FORCE

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