Endangered species takes over section of floodway - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Endangered species takes over section of floodway

"When we have a major flood event like this Spring they have no choice but to move inland," said Gillespie. "When we have a major flood event like this Spring they have no choice but to move inland," said Gillespie.
Wallace doesn't mind though because he too understands first hand what it's like to be displaced by flooding. Wallace doesn't mind though because he too understands first hand what it's like to be displaced by flooding.
The nesting ground is visibly protected with yellow signs. The nesting ground is visibly protected with yellow signs.
MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

The Birds Point New Madrid Floodway is living up to its name. Birds are taking over part of it near Big Oak Tree State Park.

"It's prime farm ground, just have sand about 4-5 foot deep," said Milus Wallace-Mississippi County Farmer. Milus Wallace owns land inside the floodway near Dorena.

He's able to start farming again in some areas, but definitely not in one spot.

"They're nesting on probably 30 acres," said Wallace. 

Interior Least Terns are taking over. They're nesting on what's now a sandbar brought in from the Mississippi River after the Corps of Engineers blasted the levee in late April.

"This is a refugee of the flooding," said Bob Gillespie-Natural History Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

When the Corps activated the floodway, it certainly affected wildlife. Many were stranded with little to nothing to eat.

Conservation agents brought in food. Now that the water is down, there's a new concern.

"They used to utilize sandbar islands which were much more prevalent on the historical Mississippi River," said Gillespie. 

Habitat is already a problem for the Interior Least Tern.

"When we have a major flood event like this Spring they have no choice but to move inland," said Gillespie. 

Farmer Milus Wallace says he's counted about 50 terns, and found about 21 nests.

The nesting ground is visibly protected with yellow signs.

"They're federally endangered which means they are protected under the endangered species act, and also are state endangered," said Gillespie. 

Now it's just a waiting game.

"We're looking at another 40 days before we can do anything with the piece of land," said Milus Wallace. 

Wallace doesn't mind though because he too understands first hand what it's like to be displaced by flooding.

"I lost everything," said Wallace.

To prevent any more stress on wildlife, conservationist will do what they can to protect this species.

"It's just a sign of devastation and a change in our landscape," said Gillespie. "It shows what a flood can do to things."

The Interior Least Terns are positioned right outside Big Oak Tree State Park. It's not easy to get to, but bird watchers with a good spotting scope should be able to catch a glimpse of the birds from the road.

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