Rodeo Fire Wildlife Survivors Get Drinking Water

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Thanks to heartfelt donations from the public through the Wildlife For Tomorrow Foundation, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is installing 2,500-gallon wildlife drinking systems at strategic locations in the Rodeo-Chediski Fire area to aid those animals that survived the fire.

"Surveys and other observations indicate that a majority of wildlife survived the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, with lots of animals moving right back into the fire area, sometimes while the ground was still smoldering," advised Regional Supervisor Richard Remington.

Wildlife will stay in the fire area if conditions are favorable. "Wildlife need three basic things - food, water and shelter, and in the proper arrangement to one another. The fire burned in a mosaic pattern, leaving a patchwork of untouched areas that provide shelter for wildlife. We are already seeing some green up in the fire area, so the food sources should be improving. The last necessary component for wildlife is water," Remington said.

Although the precipitation so far has helped fill wildlife waters in the burn area, most of those waters are also ripe with ash and other nutrients, making them marginal wildlife waters at best.

Ron Christofferson, wildlife habitat enhancement program manager, said seven 2,500-gallon wildlife-drinking systems are being placed in strategic locations in the fire area. "The tanks will feed aboveground wildlife drinkers. It's really a pretty simple but effective system," he explained.

The tanks will be filled on an as-needed basis. "Initially, we will be checking the tanks every other week. At this point, we don't have any idea how long the water in the tanks will last. It all depends on how intensely the wildlife use them," Christofferson said.

In addition, he said, crews are also assessing seven wildlife catchments adjacent to the burn area and cleaning them out if necessary. "We will be routinely checking those catchments adjacent to the fire area and filling them with water when necessary."

Donations from the public have been gathered by the Wildlife For Tomorrow Foundation and provided to Game and Fish for these efforts. Wildlife For Tomorrow has received $35,817 in donations recently for wildlife, with $4,410 in donations from the public specifically for wildlife fire relief efforts. Wildlife For Tomorrow is still collecting donations to provide waters for wildlife, or to help wildlife in general.

Cliff Hamilton, executive director of Wildlife For Tomorrow, explained that the organization is a non-profit foundation that seeks to enhance the protection, management and enjoyment of Arizona's wildlife. The Foundation works closely with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to identify needs where state funds are not adequate and to distribute donor's tax-deductible gifts to benefit our state's diverse and treasured wildlife. For more information, visit Wildlife for Tomorrow at Donations can be sent to: Wildlife For Tomorrow, c/o Arizona Game and Fish Department, 2221 W. Greenway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85023.