Arizona Wildfire Displaces Wildlife

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The Wallow fire of Arizona is close to 400,000 acres. It has pushed out humans, ruined homes, and is forever changing the habitat of the areas. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is also in the area of the fire. This region is home to endangered Mexican wolves, majestic mule deer and the prized bull elk. With the lush forests and elk population; if a hunter draws an elk tag, the hunter is able to tag out 50% of the time. Now this area will be forever changed. Hunters in the area think the wildlife will stay away for a couple of years to allow the land recover. From


groovy mike's picture

Change, but for far less time than eternity.

Change may not be a bad thing.  While it stinks for anyone who is threatened by or loses property to the Wallow fire of Arizona (or any other fire for that matter), I think that it is an over statement to say that the fire is forever changing the habitat of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.  I may just be hung of on the semantics of using absolutes like forever, always, and never.  Those words rarely apply to the natural world.  The Wallow fire will force wildlife to relocate to escape the fire and shift their feeding and bedding areas as they move to where they can find habitat similar to what they left.  It may move the endangered wildlife along with their prey animals, but I would think that the Mexican wolves might just be better off as there will be an abundance of small game that move into the area and reproduce rapidly as the new growth sprouts in the land that the fire opened up.  There will be change.  But the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will not be forever changed.  Fire is a cyclical naturally recurring event.  Within a year after a fire that ground will be covered in thousands of seedlings that have lain dormant awaiting their chance to reach the sunlight that has been denied them by larger, more mature trees that have now been pruned back or killed off by the fire.  The hunters quoted as saying that the wildlife will stay away for a couple of years to allow the land recover then return are exactly right.  I think that in teh decades to come the hunting will actually be better as a result of the fires.  Even if it takes decades to return to a similar state, that is far less time than eternity.  Thanks for sharing the news.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

Yeah fires have been going

Yeah fires have been going for hundreds of years.  Seems to me a few years after a fire the wildlife are back and stronger than when they left.  Nature has a strange way to clean things up and make them stronger, but you have to admit it seems to work real well.  If they wanna send some of those big bulls this way Colorado will take them.

arrowflipper's picture


It's amazing to me how people get so worried about the damage a fire causes to wildlife.  Fires have been going on throughout history.  Just go into the woods and you'll find evidence that at one time or another, a fire burned through the area.  Nature has a way of recovering and doing it quite well.

In many states, a certain percentage of wildfires are left alone just to give a jump start to new growth.  Not every forest fire is put out immediately.  I have talked to forestry agents who tell me they look at it as nature's way of getting a new start.  Look at the fresh new vegetation that springs up within a year or two.  Look at the wildlife that is attracted to that area.

I live in Washington State where in 1980; Mt. St. Helens erupted, devastating the forest for miles around.  Everything was leveled and destroyed.  Today, one of the best tags you can draw is the Mt. St. Helens elk tag.  The elk are thriving and abundant.  New growth has provided a wonderful food source and these animals are doing well. 

Why do we hunt clear cut areas?  Because the new growth is such a great food source for animals.  And a clear cut is basically the same as a burnout.  Let some of these fires go.

We have several of the old fire lookout towers here in the Cascade Mountains.  One of them is manned/womaned by volunteers.  I took an all-day class to qualify to man that tower.  We are on duty from 8 AM until 5 PM.  We are there 24 hours per day but the forest service does not want us to report fires we see after those hours.  I was shocked!  They told us it was nature's way of conducting business and renewing the land. 

If you've spent much time in old growth timber, you know that not much grows under that canopy of huge trees.  Animals need the undergrowth to live.  Maybe the fires are nature's way of helping the animals survive.  And besides that, forest fires make for spectacular pictures.


hunter25's picture

It's too bad when these

It's too bad when these things get started the way they do and cause so much damage to peoples homes and lives. The fires are needed to start the regrowth and in the future will once again be game rich areas before too many years go by. There needs to be more controlled burns like they used to do so the wildfires will be avoided and the extra damage that goes with them.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Well, I can say from

Well, I can say from experience, after 2 wildfires here that were each around 300,000 acres in the last 7 years, that things will work themselves out.  Fires are nature's way of cleansing the land, so I don't know why we would be so concerned with it.  Granted, I feel bad for the homes, property, and hopefully very limited lives being lost, but in terms of wildlife, it can be good.

After the wildfires here, the deer and other game were quick to move back into the area.  Especially after some fresh rain, then lots and lots of green growth start up, and it can be a buffet for the elk and deer.  And, since it's only a month or 2 from the monsoon season out there, it couldn't have come at a "better" time. 

Now, if you hold a tag for that area this fall, it might be tough. Maybe next year too, and it will take time for the elk to feel comfortable there again with the loss of their natural cover in the lush forests, but life will go on.  Nature has a funny way of bouncing back.  The toughest road will be for the Mexican wolves, as they may need to roam far and wide looking for a meal, until the big game moves back in.