How Florida wildlife is faring after Hurricane Ian
Southwest Florida looks a lot different than it did before Hurricane Ian ripped through the area six weeks ago.
The verdant Sanibel Island has browned, its trees felled by the storm or drowning in salt water. And Cape Coral, a meticulously neat planned community cut by rows of canals, is still digging itself out from under debris.
Ian resulted in the deaths of at least 130 people and displaced thousands more. Now, as residents begin to rebuild, questions remain about the future of its diverse, critically important native species.
Animals are built to withstand natural disasters – but they’re not equipped to survive in destroyed habitats with poor water quality. Species like gopher tortoises, burrowing owls and even American alligators, who all play a significant role maintaining their ecosystems’ balance, have been displaced or injured since Ian struck. Some of the animals have hardly been spotted since the storm.