SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. (WFLA) — What happens to the birds, fish, and other wild animals when a major storm hits? There is no doubt hurricanes like Ian take their toll on nature. At J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, the wildlife was left to survive on its own.

It may take decades for the plants to regenerate, but many birds and beasts are already returning, even rare species, according to ranger Toni Westland. “Over 245 different species of birds are here. Things like the Reddish Egret, and the Mangrove Cuckoo, a secretive bird, that you only see in the mangrove trees.”

Ranger Westland says she’s seeing other animals returning too, bobcats, raccoons, and biologists counting the birds say numbers are near normal.

Learn more by watching WFLA’s “Surviving the Storm: Ian’s Impact”. The 1-hour special airs on Saturday, May 27 at 7 p.m. on WFLA, and on 9 p.m. Sunday, May 28 on WTTA.