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

Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations open new RV Park

Both nations excited about new economic venture

Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

UPDATE: Victoria hosts first National Cannabis Conference

Vendors, shoppers and cannabis-curious folk head to the Victoria Conference Centre

Victoria High School students find themselves in a ‘Hairy’ situation

Vic High drama students performing modern version of Broadway musical ‘Hair’

Ready for day two at the Home Expo

One exhibitor, Atlas Junk Removal, uses their trucks for a good cause

VIDEO: Moose found licking salt off B.C. man’s pickup truck

Tab Baker was in his garage in Prince George when the small moose gave his truck a clean

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Dinosaurs taking centre stage at National Geographic event

NatGeo Live series finale May 2 at the Royal features renowned paleontologist

UPDATED: 1 person dead after highway crash in Nanoose Bay

Accident happened just before 4 p.m. near Hillview Road

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Most Read