Watch CBS News

How the California drought is impacting the state's wildlife

California's historic drought is killing the food supply for the state's wildlife
California wildlife seeking water in towns and cities 02:05

LOS ANGELES - When the drought dries out the berries in the forest, California black bears go dumpster diving for food. Complaints about black bears in garbage cans and near homes have almost doubled in the last year, a result of the drought's impact in the state.

And coyotes looking for water are a common sight in the most densely packed parts of Los Angeles. Several months ago, a pack of 15 coyotes were caught on a security camera running across a Burbank lawn. The coyotes chased Nick Mendoza while he walked his dog.

"When I was walking I saw the four and the others started circling, coming around, and that's when I knew that I was the prey -- and when you're prey, it's very scary," said Mendoza.

A California bear sniffs through a backpack in search of food CBS News

Martine Colette runs a wildlife waystation north of Los Angeles that rehabilitates exotic animals. She now sees animals coming down from the hill looking for something to drink and has started placing bowls of water around the property to help them.

"People have water. They've got fishponds they've got swimming pools, they've got dog dishes filled with water and the animal in need of water is going to smell that water and is going to come down into urban areas," said Colette.

Experts say the drought has hit small animals the hardest. Diane Nichols has rescued and fed 122 baby deer at her farm in Placer County, California. One rescue group nursed hundreds of starving squirrels back to life and released them into the wild. And just south of San Francisco, an owl looking for food was plucked off the interstate by the highway patrol.

CBS News

"They will travel long distances not to die and if that means traveling in to neighborhoods and places like that, they will travel," said Colette.

To make things worse, California is entering its prime fire season. A bad wildfire only displaces more animals.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.