Wildlife Disaster: Hurricane Ian Will Be A Game-Changer In Florida

As monster category 4 Hurricane Ian slams into Florida, the human loss is of course the priority.

There are still people in danger and many homes and businesses are already destroyed.

This is a game changing storm for the Gulf side of Florida.

There will be a major wildlife and wildlife habitat toll as well and that is what we are going to cover here.

Although it will be at least 24 hours before we get into on major results of the storm on wildlife, here is what I believe we should expect.

Manatee Strandings: With the water already sucked out of Tampa Bay in a reverse surge situation, you can expect some impact to the West Indian manatee.

These animals have suffered tremendous losses over the last couple of years and there are chances of strandings and deaths due to direct impact and stress.

Manatee strandings are a big concern in the wake if Ian. (USFWS Photo)

Fish Kills: A storm brining up to 18 feet of storm surge with giant waves on top of that will cause major fish kills along much of the impacted area.

Fish kills will likely occur many miles inland. (USFWS Photo)

Canals where water has been sucked out will see fish death and saltwater intrusion of inland areas will also cause issues. It might be a fe days before we see this begin to happen on a large-scale but it will happen.

Key Deer: The Florida Keys dodged the major brunt of this storm but there was some storm surge.

I got this report from the National Weather Service

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for the Lower Florida Keys including Key West through Big Pine Key– Act now over the next several hours near and after the low tide to protect property.  

Widespread Storm Surge Flooding originating from the Gulfside up to 4 feet above normal high tide levels is expected from Key West through Big Pine Key.  For several islands, this will allow the storm surge to pass over from Gulfside to oceanside.  The peak storm surge levels will likely occur from around noon through mid afternoon. 

It went on to say many streets will become impassable with water into ground floor homes and businesses, especially those in lower elevation areas.  

Key deer are under threat on Big Pine Key. (Photo by Faith Moore)

The largest concentration of the endangered Key deer is on Big Pine Key which has an elevation of three feet, so there is still some concern for the wildlife there.

Displaced Snakes & Hogs: In the aftermath of the storm, Florida’s very abundant feral hog and snake population in the impacted areas will be displaced.

That will mean cottonmouths and rattlesnakes in and around housing editions and feral hogs showing up in high ground around cities.

People will need to use extreme caution around debris.

We will post an update as soon as we know more on the wildlife end of things.

Keep the people and wildlife of Florida in your prayers.

They need it.

Chester Moore

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