Harsh winter conditions, which have left people stranded on roads across Turkey and tested the plight of the homeless, have also affected stray animals as well as free-living birds. As snowfall covered the ground, their access to food and water was greatly reduced. In many areas, dependence on good Samaritans remains their only chance of survival.
Nowadays everyone, including animal lovers acting alone and the government and charities working to keep them alive, delivers food to remote areas and leaves it on the streets of big cities where dogs and cats struggle to survive.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is at the forefront of efforts. Since December, ministry teams have delivered some 330 tonnes of food for wildlife and birds across the country. Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli personally delivered supplies to a rural area in the capital Ankara’s Beypazarı district on Wednesday. The state of the wild animals is constantly monitored through cameras installed in their habitats and the crews regularly replenish their food stocks. In some places, like a national park in the central province of Kayseri, drones are being used to pinpoint the exact location of wild animals, like mountain goats, to deliver food.
In the eastern province of Muş, where a thick layer of snow about 80 centimeters (31.4 inches) deep covered the province, the birds took refuge in a factory producing animal feed. On Wednesday, a large flock of birds “surrounded” the plant, whose owner and staff left bird food outside. “The pigeons come here every winter, and we give them grain and corn,” factory owner Salih Dalkaya told Demirören News Agency (DHA).
Authorities are also looking to provide shelter for animals affected by the cold. In the eastern province of Bingöl, several injured donkeys, abandoned by their owners, were housed in a stable after being found shivering and near death in a village.