Fish and Game: Forest fires benefit wildlife in the long run

Fish and Game: Forest fires benefit wildlife in the long run

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 1:07 PM

BOISE -- As weather starts to cool, and the fires are more controlled we are left with the ash and aftermath. However, folks at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said these fires may benefit wildlife over the long run.

In the early 1900s, there was a large wildfire that burned about 80 percent of the Lochsa River drainage area. After that fire, there were record numbers of elk in the area.

"We get a lot of calls, people concerned about the wildlife. And for the most part, wildlife are doing fine," said Mike Demick with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Demick said animals die in wildfires from time to time. But they usually know what to do.

"People got to understand that wildlife have been around here for a long time, just like fire. And over the years they've adapted to fire," he said.

Most animals can escape the fires. Down the road, the fires can be a good thing for them.

"The ash contains a lot of nutrients and that kind of is like a fertilizer. And it goes into the ground, those plants, those shrubs, those trees take those nutrients up and you have this big explosion of new forage."

Big game, like elk and deer, love that new grass. It can start sprouting up as soon as a few months later, with the right conditions.

"People think fire is just a devastating thing. And yeah, fire can be bad, depending on how severe it is. But for the most part, wildlife adapt to it and actually do well from it," said Demick.

In range and desert areas, fires are not as beneficial as they are in the woods. Fish and Game said it takes longer for those desert plants to grow back, and the fires start up there more often.

Forest fires usually do not spark back up in the same place for 40 to 50 years.

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