A plan to assist Alberta wildlife during massive wildfires should be developed in light of the huge animal losses in Australia, says the executive director of Medicine River Wildlife Centre.
“I think we’ve all run it around in our own heads, but I don’t think there has been anything formal talked about, or laid down. It is something we should think about, especially with the increase in forest fires,” Carol Kelly said.
Fires in Australia have exacted a grisly toll on the country’s wildlife, with carcasses of kangaroos littering the sides of roadways. Hundreds of millions of wild animals are believed to have been killed in the blazes, along with thousands of livestock.
The fires, fueled by drought and the country’s hottest and driest year on record, have been raging since September, months earlier than is typical for Australia’s annual wildfire season. Twenty five people have died and 2,000 homes destroyed.
“The size of the fire, and amount of animals, consumed is just horrific. There’s talk of about a billion animals being killed,” Kelly said.
But it did make Kelly feel better knowing that animal groups were receiving donations and government funding was on the way.
“The good thing is people are stepping up and helping them. The koala in particular, it’s not an abundant animal to start with. With this many being lost, it could very well hit the endangered list.”
Kelly said for animals, wildfires are a natural part of their world and those that can do so will move to escape the flames. People who dealt with recent wildfires in California told her that animal rescues were actually not overwhelmed by injured animals.
“Animals that can’t run, like babies in a nest, are consumed by the fire pretty quickly. The things that can run, or fly, they can sense the fire coming and they get out of there in time.”
She said hopefully forest fires will not be a big problem in Alberta in 2020.
“As much as we hate snow, the snow keeps things moister for the spring.”
— With files from The Associated Press