And they’re back.
I found these photos of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest photostream on Flickr. I can’t tell you how excited I was to post these images because I wanted everyone to see that many of the animals are back and it looks like they’re doing OK.
Of course, as it turns out, wildlife typically tends to do OK even when fire consumes their habitat.
According to contributing Arizona Highways photographer Bruce Taubert, many of the larger animals — coyotes, elk, deer and bears — actually do pretty well… they tend to get out of the area and eventually come back (bears like to scavenge in the aftermath). Birds typically fly way… although, if the fire is too fast, some birds may not be able to outrun it. Depending on the species, smaller animals sometimes do alright too, especially burrowing animals… They just have to get down deep. “Kangaroo rats have deep complexes… they seem to do well,” he says. Reptiles also fall into that category of doing-mostly-OK-during-fires. However, doing OK is also contingent on the speed of the fire. “If the fire is moving fast and they can’t get underground, they’re going to burn,” explains Taubert matter-of-factly. The only wildlife that doesn’t seem to fare so well are the very young, the sick, the old and fish. Fish that live in smaller streams face the inevitable Monsoon, and that means flooding and mud rushes. “The fish get washed out.”
It is important to note that while many animals are able to get away from the fires, fire does indeed take a severe toll: “All of the animals suffer immediately,” says Taubert.
Let’s hope the past does not repeat itself again…
And let’s not forget the kind of devastation we humans are capable of causing.
-KAT, Associate Editor
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