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Record Rainfall Could Threaten Everglades Wildlife

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Ron Bergeron stands in chest-high water in the flooded Everglades (Source: CBS4)

Ron Bergeron stands in chest-high water in the flooded Everglades (Source: CBS4)

Healthwatch

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Everglades, one of the world’s most unique and complex ecosystems, has had its fair share of droughts over the years. But after this year’s early-season record rainfall, there is a surplus of water that officials say could potentially drown wildlife.

The recent flooding, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Conservationist Ron Bergeron, could possibly threaten the lives of bears, Florida Panthers, deer and other fur-bearing animals that call the Everglades home.

“In normal water levels, the water would maybe be up to my knees, but due to the extreme high water, this is what the majority of area water elevations are,” said Bergeron, the water level nearly up to his chest.

Bergeron, and other wildlife officials, are asking officials to take emergency action to help the situation before it could potentially get worse as there are still three months left in the 2013 hurricane season.

A comparable situation has happened before—and officials want action taken before the animals, including some endangered species, suffer.

“The current situation is eerily similar to what we had during the same time period in 1994 when 98 percent of fur-bearing wildlife got wiped out,” said Bergeron.

The high water level makes it difficult for deer to find a dry place to sleep and forage for food. Smaller animals are at risk of drowning.

Bergeron, along with other state officials, is working with the Army Corp of Engineers, trying to get a variance to allow more water to flow south under the new Tamiami Trail elevated bridge, into this canal and out to Florida Bay.

Bergeron said that if the water levels don’t go down by at least a foot within the next 30 to 60 days, we could see animals dying on a large scale.

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