Despite the massive and ongoing fires raging through some of eastern Arizona’s prime deer and elk habitat, state wildlife officials say the fire may not affect this falls hunting season as much as you think it might…
From this story in the Yuma Sun:
It is important to note that each of the wildlife species affected by these fires have their own set of survival techniques. Larger, more mobile animals will simply move out of the path of a fire, birds will obviously fly away and many smaller mammals and reptiles will burrow underground or seek shelter in rock dens. Research has shown that burrowing even six inches will protect animals from fires reaching up to 3,000 degrees above ground. While it’s impossible to determine how many animals will survive the fires and how many have been lost, records of past fires show that wildlife mortality is substantially lower than one might imagine. As soon as it is appropriate and in full cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be using the tools at their disposal to assess the fires’ impacts to wildlife, as well as any immediate actions that can be taken to assist surviving animals.
_”…Many hunters might immediately come to the conclusion that their hunts in the fire areas are now ruined due to the fires, out of the perceptions that there will be reduced numbers of game, limited or no access, that the forest is completely burned or that the overall hunting experience is compromised. Although some hunts will undoubtedly be affected, they might not necessarily be as severe as perceived. For example, after the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, surveys in the unit showed no evidence of any large migration of elk or deer out of the burn area. With the onset of the monsoon, it is anticipated that a significant portion of Units 1 and 27 will have adequate forage and that elk will be well distributed prior to the hunts.