Thursday, October 25, 2007

What About the Animals?

Families evacuated, homes lost, and forests destroyed--the fires continue their terrifying assault on California. Of course, I worry about the people living there, and the firefighters who work so hard and in such dangerous conditions, but whenever I hear about these disasters, I always wonder, What about the animals?

For pet owners, many shelters have been set up to ease the burden caused by the evacuation. A friend, a California resident, rescued a dog she found wandering alone in a park. She told me about another abandoned pet that was taken to the vet, only to have it discovered that the sickly pit bull puppy suffered from Canine Parvovirus (PARVO), a potentially deadly disease.

And what about wildlife? Lizards, snakes and rodents burrow underground, so are relatively safe. Birds, unless nesting, easily fly from the fires. Larger animals, such as foxes, deer and bears, are at greater risk since their only means of escape is by running away which, depending on the fire's speed, is not always successful.

For those animals who do make it, surviving the fire's aftermath is the next hurdle. Intense fires cause the loss of vital topsoil needed for regrowth, and destroy seeds. Fire suspension methods, such as bulldozing, can alter the landscape and contaminate the soil.

Is there anything you can do to help wildlife after a fire? Here are a few tips from Douglas D. McCreary, Natural Resources Specialist, University of California:

Build and install nest boxes.
Retain some down and dead large woody material for amphibians and reptiles.
Provide clean water in shallow containers for animals moving through your property.

It's all so much doom and gloom, but I was able to find one bit of good news: The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds hunters that wild fires can alter hunting plans. Fire restrictions can limit a big game tag holder’s access in certain zones depending on conditions. So put away your guns, boys.


NuclearToast said...

I'm always heartened by the news stories talking about someone's house being destroyed and them losing all their possessions, but they =and their pets= got out ok.

At least people have priorities.

Lynn Sinclair said...

There are so many things we believe are important, but when it comes right down to it...yeah, it's the lives of our family and pets.

Carolyn Burns Bass said...

Few would argue that humans and homes come before pets and wildlife. But still, animal lovers mourn the loss of wildlife. Thank you for providing this insightful post about how we can help after the fires are out.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Thanks, Carolyn.

Check out Carolyn's blog for a picture of "Mordor".