What do wildfires mean for wildlife? Just like people, wildfires also impact wildlife. Wild animals have developed strategies to fly, run or bury themselves to escape from fires, but the change in habitat and food resources will have a lasting impact for generations. Especially for fires that occur near urban and suburban areas, you may see wild animals passing through or resting in your yard as they search for safety.
During wildfire season, or in times of severe drought, you can help wild animals:
- Prevent forest fires – learn more about how you can prevent forest fires.
- Don’t feed the animals – feeding wildlife does more harm than good, and can create dependence on humans. Wild animals can find food on their own, even in severe conditions.
- Let them rest – if wild animals are fleeing a fire, they will already be scared and tired. Don’t scare them, and be patient as they rest before moving along.
- Keep your pets on-leash or inside – this helps keep pets and wildlife safe by preventing conflicts.
- Report injured wildlife – if you find an injured animal or suspect they need help, call the BC SPCA Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722.
If you do find a wild animal in trouble as a result of a fire, they need help as soon as possible. Before trying to rescue them, make sure they need your help. Trying to catch a wild animal that’s just resting will scare them, wasting precious energy that may be needed to escape a spreading fire.
A wild animal might need help if:
- There are obvious signs of injury (burns, blood, wounds, etc.)
- They have been hit by a car, hit a window, or been caught by a pet
- They seem ‘sleepy’ or don’t respond when you approach
- They seem dizzy or disoriented, or stumble and fall when they move
- They are a baby and have been crying for a long time, are covered in bugs, or are cold and not moving very much
Call the BC SPCA at 1-855-622-7722 for emergency wildlife help – they can put you in touch with your closest wildlife rehabilitation centre, and let you know the best next steps to help with the rescue.