The Times
  • Ecologically speaking, all the rain had mixed results on wildlife

  • Recent flooding has left homeowners devastated, municipal leaders scrambling and politicians mucking through saturated streets.

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  • Recent flooding has left homeowners devastated, municipal leaders scrambling and politicians mucking through saturated streets.
    But what about our friends with fur, scales, wings and feathers?
    Because of the sudden changes to the local environment, the ecology will see several changes, but experts say they will be temporary and focus on the populations of water-dependent organisms.
    The changes, experts say, can be a burden or boon, depending on the species.
    “Mother Nature, she giveth and she taketh away,” said Lynette Kay, consumer horticulture program assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County.
    Mosquitoes, literally born out of standing water, will be the biggest biological bully to humans that come out of the flooding, Kay said.
    Water is essential to the stinging sucker’s lifecycle, and the large rainfall was sure to gather in wheelbarrows, buckets and rain gutters over the past couple of weeks. Throw in debris that blocks storm gutters and other implements that allow for flowing water, and more breeding grounds for the mosquitoes form.
    Females can lay 200 to 300 eggs in a “raft,” or a floating cluster. Those can hatch within 48 hours, Kay said. The white larvae wiggle around in the water before developing into the bugs.
    The insects are prone to carry diseases such as the West Nile virus or the alliterative eastern equine encephalitis.
    “We want to curb that however we can,” she said.
    Getting rid of excess standing water and cleaning gutters will eliminate the mosquito’s natural breeding ground, she said.
    Furry, feathered friends
    The increase in the bugs, however, will be good for the avian population, as it is a major food source for birds, she said.
    The habitats of some ground nesting birds, such as turkeys or grouse or their chicks, might have washed out with the floods, said Stephen Litwhiler, regional spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
    Those populations, however, will not be eliminated from the area, he said.
    “I don’t see a loss of a complete year of a nesting species,” he said. “But it might be a temporary setback.”
    Beavers and black bears, on the other hand, are thriving in this new setting.
    With the debris gathering in streams and rivers, beavers have more fodder to create dams, Kay said.
    And with the wet weather persistent through the summer, more food appropriate for the bears have cropped up in forests, which Litwhiler said keeps them out of residential areas, a change from last year’s bone-dry summer.
    “We’ve had very few complaints about black bears this year,” he said.