Nightly News   |  May 13, 2011

Floods send swamp creatures scrambling

As the natural habitat of much of Louisiana wildlife's is increasingly swallowed up by the surging Mississippi River, countless wild animals have been stranded while struggling to reach higher ground—while other river animals are swimming into flooded residential areas. NBC's Thanh Truong reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: It's not just people who are suffering in this flood. Wild animals are finding themselves homeless as well, pushed into places you would never normally find them. NBC 's Thanh Truong has that report from Mississippi .

THANH TRUONG reporting: The worst flood in more than half a century has already swallowed millions of acres of land, sending thousands of residents to seek higher ground while countless wild animals struggle to do the same. This coyote in Mississippi swims for its life.

Mr. RANDY NEWELL (Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks): Animals are just like humans. It's about survival. They want to live.

TRUONG: Natural habitats for so many species are underwater.

Mr. NEWELL: All they're looking for, just like any other animal, is dry ground. They just want to be dry.

TRUONG: Leaving many stranded, like this raccoon on top of a pole and a wild hog in water. Deer, accustomed to roaming freely, instead racing to whatever dry land they can find.

Mr. NEWELL: For the wildlife it's just -- it's such a stressful situation. These animals are running. That's why we're seeing deer/vehicle collisions.

TRUONG: On Lake Chotard in Mississippi , alligators are closer to neighborhoods than ever before. As we traveled into flooded communities, water moccasins swimming along what used to be streets is a common sight. These homes are located next to some of the most prime hunting grounds in the state of Mississippi . The flooding is pushing animals away from those areas and towards civilization. As animals are flushed out, unlikely encounters are taking place. Neighbors here say a gator claimed a dog.

Unidentified Woman: They say the alligator got the other dog.

Mr. RAY McMILLEN (Tennessee Wildlife Resource Officer): As far as the alligators, they just have more room to roam. So if, you know, people see them, just stay away from them. They're not going to bother you if you don't bother them.

TRUONG: Wildlife officers say the impact on these animals and their future generations is unclear. For now it's simply about staying above water. Thanh Truong, NBC News, Lake Chotard, Mississippi .