LOOMIS (CBS SF) — California’s ongoing drought is having a major impact on wildlife, experts said.

Wildlife experts told the Los Angeles Times there has been a big increase in the number of starving baby squirrels, which are so hungry and thirsty that they’ve been jumping out of their tree top nests in search of food and water – then losing their way trying to get home.

Officials with the Gold Country Wildlife Rescue center in Loomis said they are swamped with these orphans. In 2013, they took in 1,800 and this year, that number has increased to 2,200.

Meanwhile, state fish and wildlife officials said bears and deer that are being forced to expand their search for food and water near mountain highways are getting hit and killed by cars.

Officials said it’s difficult to divert wildlife away from busy highways.

“You can’t really change wildlife behavior,” Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Dana Michaels told the Times. “We have to hope people are more intelligent than the animals.”

Wildfires this past year have also destroyed a significant amount of vegetation forcing wildlife to travel farther than usual for food.

Despite the recent storms have brought much-needed rainfall to the state this fall and early winter, especially in Northern California, meteorologists warn that there is no guarantee that they will continue.


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