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

Incumbent mayors in Victoria, Esquimalt retain their roles

A high voter turnout saw the mayors unchanged, but new faces on both councils

What to pack in an emergency-preparedness kit for earthquakes

Several earthquakes of Vancouver Island’s West Coast have people wondering how to be ready

Business is booming as Black Press gears up for Victoria career fair

One stop shop for questions about entering the workforce, finding work experience

Multiple earthquakes off Vancouver Island recorded around the world

Five earthquakes overnight on Oct. 21 were measured as ‘strong’

Rotating Canada Post strikes begin in Victoria

Monday’s mail will be delayed one day due to strike

UPDATE: Lisa Helps re-elected as mayor of Victoria

Nine people were seeking the mayor’s seat for the City of Victoria and 29 candidates hoped to be chosen for council

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read