Missouri River flooding benefits wildlife refuge
October 14th, 2011 by Ric Hanson
There’s a bright spot to the months of flooding along the Missouri River in western Iowa that destroyed homes, thousands of acres of cropland and bridges and roads. All that water is actually good for the De Soto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley. Each fall, thousands of migratory birds – including geese and ducks – use De Soto as a resting place as they fly south. Deputy Refuge Manager Mindy Sheets says those birds are now feasting on a more natural diet. “This flood has killed off a lot of exotic and invasive plant species and the native species that should be here have responded,” Sheets said. The visiting birds are no longer loading up on “junk food” from area farm fields. Instead, they’re eating the resurging native plants.
“That’s what the water fowl are supposed be eating, not corn and beans and stuff, so there’s more natural food than normal,” Sheets said. This week has been prime time for viewing with many varieties of geese and ducks as well as pelicans flying through. The 3,500 acre refuge is closed to the public for the time being, but Sheets hopes they’ll be able to re-open portions of the park in the next few weeks.