California Drought: More Wild Animals Feeding In Backyards As Plants Dry Up In East Bay Parks
DUBLIN (KPIX)-- More hungry, wild animals are venturing into Bay Area backyards due to the drought.
Rainfall totals in the Bay Area are well below normal this year and according to the United States Drought Monitor, Alameda and Contra Costa counties are experiencing exceptional drought conditions.
Within the East Bay Regional Parks it means wetlands and ponds are drying up and a lot of the native plants and trees are dying which takes a big toll on wildlife.
"They'll come in - this is the best restaurant in town if you're a deer or something like that," says Dayle Hall.
He has deer fencing up around his vegetable garden and other parts of the property. Hall has lived along the boundary of Las Trampas Regional Park for the past 10 years and sees a lot of wildlife moving through the area, but says this year there's more than ever.
"We get a lot of deer that come down trying to find some kind of sustenance - food, water, whatever," he says.
According to experts with East Bay Regional Parks, the drought is taking a toll.
"This is one of the worst years we've ever experienced. We're seeing a lot of our ponds and streams dry up extremely early," says Matt Graul who is the Chief of Stewardship for the EBRPD.
That means all kinds of animals are coming down into neighborhoods in greater numbers and with greater frequency looking for anything to eat or drink
"Coyotes are moving into areas where they haven't previously moving into and this is again because they're searching for water," says Peter Flowers, who manages the hospital for Lindsay Wildlife In Walnut Creek.
Quite a few people in West Dublin have captured coyotes wandering the neighborhoods on home surveillance cameras, then posted their footage to social media sites like NextDoor.
Dayle says he's also seeing more wild turkeys, skunks and raccoons.
"Usually you get animals coming later. I would say earlier in the evening when it's not as dark, they're a little bit more confident or more desperate, whichever way you want to look at it," he says.
EBRPD officials say they already have plans to try to make their land more resistant to drought. There are plans to increase water capacity in all parks by expanding existing ponds and restoring natural streams.
"Now we're just looking to just accelerate our efforts and what can we do, things we've been planning to do in a couple years, saying, how can we do that faster, How can we move these projects forward as fast as possible, because we really don't have time to wait any longer," says Graul.
Flowers says while the animals are stressed from the drought and might be wandering the neighborhoods on a more regular basis, it's important not to leave out food or water for them. He says the animals will become dependent on it and will never go back into their natural habitat.
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