Wet winter leads to explosion of wildlife in the backcountry - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Wet winter leads to explosion of wildlife in the backcountry

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The long drought is officially over in California thanks to heavy winter rains. Now, the state is getting ready for an explosion of wildlife.

Scientists are already seeing an increase in rodents and rabbits in San Diego County’s backcountry.

Scott Tremor is a mammalogist at the San Diego Natural History Museum, where the collection of wildlife samples spans more than a century.

“This specimen was collected here in Balboa Park back in 1920,” said Tremor as he displayed a cottontail rabbit carcass in the collection room.

Tremor traps and counts mammals in the wild and he's already seen a 50 percent increase in rodents thanks to the wet winter.

“A lot of our native rodents depend on this vegetation as their food source and in turn so do many other carnivores depend on the rodents as their food source,” said Tremor.

An explosion of rodents and rabbits leads to more rattlesnakes.

“Many of our local snakes are very dependent on rodents, so this increase in the numbers of rodents you'll see the snake population increases as well,” he said.

Deer also increase with an abundance of grass and eventually we'll see more bobcats and mountain lions.

“If a bobcat is well fed and healthy, it's going to produce more offspring and be capable of having those animals survive until adulthood,” Tremor said.

And while it could be up to a year before we see an increase in the larger mammals, it's only a matter of time.

“There's something about the bright green vegetation that sets off the reproduction cycle,” said Tremor.

If you want to learn more about the mammal life in San Diego County, the Natural History Museum is about to publish its San Diego mammal atlas.

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