OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As Oklahomans have been working to keep warm during this winter blast, many are concerned about our state’s wildlife in these arctic temperatures.
“It’s been a busy few days fielding a lot of calls from concerned members of the public for sure and we also have a lot of animals that have been brought in to us,” said Dr. Kyle Abbot, the staff veterinarian at WildCare Oklahoma.
WildCare is a rehabilitation center for wild animals in Noble.
He says large water fowl, such as pelicans, can die when bodies of water, like Lake Hefner, ice over.
“For the bigger birds, like the pelicans, a lot of them can be a little dangerous sometimes, so we’re asking people to call us with those types of concerns and we’ll be able to help them,” Abbot said.
Some species fare well in the cold, like these critters at Sequoyah State Park.
Bunnies, squirrels, and other creatures should be left alone if they run away.
“Better to let those animals be – reason being that we want them to spend their energy on staying warm and not on trying to escape us,” Abbot said.
A game warden with proper gear rescued a deer stranded on the ice.
Don’t try it on your own. Ice-covered Oklahoma waters are not reliable. You may have also seen images online from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, like alligators peeking out of icy waters.
“So it’s a really cool adaptation that they can continue to breathe even when the water ices over,” Abbot said.
At the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, their gators are inside right now, like many of the animals who aren’t suited for the cold.
“We don’t necessarily have to put them to the test like nature is doing, Oklahoma’s wildlife, this week,” said Kevin Drees, the zoo’s director of animal collections.
Instead, they’ve enjoyed indoor enrichment like snow deliveries and more.
“Giving them novel experiences throughout their days at the zoo,” Drees said.
WildCare Oklahoma is a great resource to call if you see an animal in need of help. Their phone number is (405) 872-9338.
The Department of Wildlife warns that unfortunately a lot of threadfin shad have died in the frozen waters and anglers will notice that in the coming months.