I remember back (not long ago) when wildfires were just a natural events that left the forest refreshed and renewed. Now, human manipulation and ultimately, anthropogenic climate change, have made fires more and more catastrophic for all–including the wildlife.
OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. – Okanogan residents said today a bear that died last week in their area likely woke up from hibernation too early from a lack of food before winter.
2 On Your Side found it the same problem is affecting animals across Central Washington. It was all thanks to two years of historic wildfires that caused massive amounts of land damage.
“A lot of animals were killed in the fire itself last summer,” Okanogan resident Jon Wyss said. “And many more died shortly after from burns and other injuries. But now, 6 months later, there is plenty of wildlife still suffering.”
The fires destroyed many of the habitats for the animals which meant no food and little shelter. Thousands of deer were left without food after trees and grass were burned.
“When you burn 250,000 acres in 2014 and 500,000 acres in 2015, there’s not a lot of forage,” Wyss said.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials told 2 On Your Side it could take up to a decade for all the foliage to regrow. That could lead to many animal populations to struggle for years and farmers could carry the burden.
“There’s 11,000 deer without food,” Wyss said. “They’re struggling and they’re competing against our agriculturalists, eating limbs off the trees, the buds, the hay.
2 On Your Side learned that with so many deer going on to farmland for food, it can bring predators like wolves and cougars closer to homes.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials also said the harder it is for deer means it’s easier for predators. But officials also said that nature will correct itself and the wildlife population will rebound eventually.