In the days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, stories of residents coming across alligators and other wildlife in their homes spread across social media.

As even more Southeast Texans return to their neighborhoods to assess damage, state officials are warning residents to brace for similar encounters.

“People should be aware that snakes and other wildlife, including skunks and raccoons, may approach or enter yards and houses seeking cover or higher ground,” John Davis, director of the Wildlife Diversity program for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said Tuesday in a press release. “Over time, displaced wildlife will return to their usual habitats."

Jonathan Warner, the department’s alligator program leader, emphasized common sense in the face of wildlife encounters.

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“Alligators are wary of people but keep your distance," Warner said. “Never approach, harass or feed an alligator. When water levels recede, the alligator will likely disappear as well.”

Davis also encouraged residents to stay calm in case they encounter a snake in their yard.

“They don’t want to be there, either, and if left alone will usually leave on their own. You’re more likely to come upon a skunk, a mound of fire ants or a wasp nest in a brush than a venomous snake,” Davis said.

TPWD officials are urging residents to focus any rescue efforts on helping people in dangerous situations, rather than displaced wildlife, who are "equipped by nature to take care of themselves in most situations." Residents can contact local animal control in situations where removal is needed.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Harvey's aftermath raises a variety of health risks, including water contamination, mold and psychological distress. Here's how to avoid them. [Full story]

  • Hurricane Harvey's prolonged flooding may have washed out bridges, knocked down traffic signals and caused asphalt to buckle. [Full story]

  • This map shows where Hurricane Harvey’s effects were felt the most in Texas. [Full story]

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