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

Chilliwack Chiefs take gut punch from Merritt in 5-2 loss

Trying to hold off Langley and Surrey for the Mainland division’s second seed, Chilliwack faltered.

Freezing temperatures expected in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning ends, but surge or icy air to continue

Chilliwack’s history celebrated during Heritage Week

Heritage Chilliwack partnering with Atchelitz and more for open house

Park and trails consultation sessions kick off on Feb. 24

City staff will be talking about some current parks projects like green gyms for example

Chilliwack welcomes Séan McCann, legendary East Coast crooner

The founding member of Great Big Sea is visiting Chilliwack during his North American solo tour

The Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra & Chorus joins with other choirs to create Voices, a celebration of BC composers

The Richmond Chorus and Chilliwack’s Children and Youth Choirs join the CSO for a night of regional music

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.

BCHL Today: Powell River stuns Vernon and BCHL grads lead Team Canada

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

One dead after targeted shooting in Coquitlam

IHIT also asking for information about a car on fire nearby

Reports of money laundering in B.C. real estate ‘troubling’: attorney general

News report alleges people connected to fentanyl trade are using B.C. real estate to launder money

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Two more medals for Canada, and men’s hockey loss

Team Canada shines on the speed skating track, but fall short against the Czechs in hockey

Heavy snowfall warning continues

Kelowna - Expect snow in the Okanagan, Southern Interior and the Kootenays

RCMP member challenges court to prevent further disciplinary action

RCMP member launches appeal to avoid new hearing over alleged harassment

Port of Vancouver program examines impact of marine noise on local whales

Man-made noises can interfere with orcas’ ability to hunt and communicate with other pod members

Most Read