Wildlife may survive these wildfires, if they’re fast

“We may never know what animals were killed and what happened.”

People and pets first.

Property second.

Then there are all those wild animals to worry about.

There are many unknowns when assessing the impact of a forest fire on wildlife, Helen Schwantje, the BC government’s top wildlife veterinarian told The Spotlight in a telephone interview Sunday morning.

“We may never know what animals were killed and what happened,” she said. “Mother Nature is pretty resilient, but this is a pretty nasty situation…there is nothing that wildlife managers can do to assist the animals until things are safe for people to go in and look.”

According to Schwantje, young animals and small species are more at risk simply because they can’t travel fast enough.

Large animals like moose, deer and bears can cover ground quickly and use their instincts to find safe ground.

“Do they know where the evacuation corridors are? No, but they will find their own – river courses, in other cases they will go up higher where are air is better.”

Schwantje said so many different factors affect wildlife it is difficult to know which species, in which areas, will be hardest impacted.

“Woodland Cariboo could be severely impacted. They depend on old growth forests and if the old growth forests are burned there are not a lot of other places to go.”

Small birds and certain species of snakes are also particularly vulnerable, she said.

In the aftermath of a fire it is also hard to judge how much an animal population has been decimated, unless that population was already under study.

“Some of the areas that are being burned currently, there is research going on there and monitoring and that will include going back and checking those populations.”

Overall, the biggest impact the fires will likely have on animals is changes to habitat.

“Habitat is what all wildlife depends on.”

Carnivores may suffer from a lack of food source, when smaller animal populations are eliminated, she said.

For others there might be an eventual upside.

“Moose and deer benefit from fire that allows new vegetation to grow up very quickly. In years to come those areas might eventually benefit.”

Schwantje said it’s important for animal lovers to understand there is not a provincially run rescue or rehabilitation program for wildlife, however the Conservation Service Office and volunteer groups play a role.

“In most cases we are not going to see animals that we can rescue or make better…If the public sees animals that are in distress or injured they should first call the RAPP line 1-877-952-7277.”

Just Posted

Canada wins gold in bobsleigh

Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz tied for first in two-man event at 2018 Winter Olympics

Okanagan residents can win ride in army vehicle

A social media campaign offers the chance to win a ride in the Dragoons armoured vehicle

Reel Reviews: War from both sides of the desk

We say, “Forgive these films their faults and they will be entertaining enough.”

Residents should keep air intakes clear of snow

Silver Star Fire Department is encouraging residens to keep their air intakes clear after snowfall

Provincial program offers assistance to agricultural producers

AgriStability Enhancement Program benefits agricultural producers who saw an income decline in 2017

PHOTOS: Icing the competition

Skate Canada 2018 Okanagan Regional Championships skated through Vernon this weekend

Street Sounds: Rolling with the Stones

The Stones’ On Air is a blast from the past in every sense

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

VIDEO: Protesters rally for affordable housing ahead of B.C. budget

Residents call on province to keep locals housed

Update: Highway 97C reopened following multi-vehicle incident

Highway 97C is closed to eastbound traffic near Pennask Summit following an incident Sunday afternon

Brakemen pulling out all the stops for 2018

Kettle Valley Brakemen planning some surprises

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

DRAWL searches for Okanagan Valley accent

UBC study wants to hear from Okanagan residents

Most Read