How to Help Animals in the Wake of California Wildfires
The Camp and Woolsey wildfires displaced thousands of California residents, human and non-human animals alike, from their homes, turning some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes to ash in the process. Among those seeking relief from the flames were thousands of wild animals, and they still need our help.
On the morning of November 8, the Camp Fire ignited in Northern California. After burning for 17 days, the flames destroyed 150,000 acres in Butte County, making it the most destructive wildfire ever recorded in the state. A few hours later, The Woolsey Fire started to the south where it burned for over two weeks, destroying nearly 100,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura County.
What are wild animals to do when faced with massive fast-moving wildfires? Animals have "evolved to survive” hostile environments by developing various survival tactics. Often, birds can fly to safe locations as long as they are not nesting. Small burrowing animals, like chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits, can sometimes find relief below ground, where temperatures are tolerable. Larger, four-legged animals such as deer, mountain lions, and coyotes, sometimes have the ability to run from harm’s way. Tragically, gusting winds and dried vegetation can cause fires to spread too quickly, outpacing the animals trying to escape the flames.
Although animals have adapted to fend for themselves, they are not always able to do so when conditions are unusual, extreme, and unrelenting. If you are in the affected areas in California, there are a few things you can do to help the survivors. Containers of food and water can be placed in safe areas for hungry, dehydrated animals. Bird seed for birds and rodents, dry dog food for squirrels and opossums, hay and dried corn for deer, and fresh vegetables for rabbits, can be left out for desperate animals in search of food.
As a general rule, do not put these containers in hazardous areas with falling debris, active flames or by roads, or outside of your home or commercial areas. Animals are likely to return to these locations and will become dependent on people for survival, causing them more harm than good in the long run.
Thankfully, both of the fires are now fully contained. Animal sanctuaries and shelters are housing thousands of displaced and injured animals, and are in need of fosters and supplies.
Please donate today to our disaster relief fund to help animals harmed by wildfires and other natural disasters.