In the fall of 2011 it was reported wild animals were facing difficult conditions due to the long drought in Texas and resorting to looking for water in human residential areas. For example, a coyote stole a watermelon from a man’s garden just to get the juice, a baby armadillo showed up in a front yard and drank water from a garden hose. Other animals such as racoons and feral hogs were also appearing in yards in search of water, while deer were walking on roads in the middle of the day. Donkeys were being abandoned at a high rate because the drought drove up the cost of feed. Wildfires, dried up land and very hot conditions might also have killed 500 million trees in the Lone Star state.
This drought isn’t likely to end any time soon; in fact, it has been predicted to last another eight years. So far it has caused an estimated $5.2 billion in agricultural damages.
The main cause of the drought appears to be related to a new La Nina, but climate change has been acknowledged by the Texas state climatologist to be a factor. 2011 was the driest year in Texas since 1917 with only 15 inches of statewide rainfall. Thirteen public water systems are projected to run out of water in 180 days or less. One water system serving 1,500 people could run out on March 1. Almost sixty percent of the state is either in severe or exceptional states of drought. Climate experts from Columbia University have said the drought is likely to get worse.
Image Credit: NASA, Public Domain