With the recent and current flooding in southern Missouri, we have received several questions about the stressful effects of flooding on wildlife. Certainly there will be some wildlife lost to the flooding. Spring is a time of reproduction and a time when many eggs and young animals are vulnerable to disturbances. It is also a time for planting crops and food plots from which wildlife can benefit in the fall and winter. Flooding is sure to have immediate and long-term effects on wildlife.
There is a provision in the Missouri Wildlife Code that is designed to help protect vulnerable wildlife during flooding:
Wildlife, except waterfowl, may not be pursued or taken while trapped or surrounded by floodwaters or while fleeing from floodwaters or fire.
With the spring turkey season ending this Sunday, May 8, there won’t be many hunting opportunities until fall, although coyote, groundhog and squirrel hunting seasons will be open soon.
Questions also arise regarding fishing in floodwaters when many streams and rivers are out of their banks. Game fish may be taken by the same methods allowed for taking fish in the stream or river before it flooded. Non-game fish and species not considered endangered may also be taken from overflow waters by gig, atlatl, underwater spearfishing, bow, crossbow, snagging or grabbing between sunrise and sunset throughout the year. Anglers and boaters should keep in mind that just because floodwaters allow you to reach an area by boat, that doesn’t mean that you are not trespassing if you are on private property without permission. Please respect landowners’ rights during this time of crisis in the flooded areas.