BOISE -- The massive wildfires burning in Idaho right now could have long-reaching impacts on not only Idaho's wildlife, but the environment as well. However, officials say the impact won't be all-bad.
FIRES AND WILDLIFE
Those with Idaho Fish and Game say it's out-of-the ordinary to lose as much wildlife as we have this fire season. Some deer, elk, and birds of prey have died in the fires by Pine and Featherville, and just Wednesday, some elk were lost in the Magic Valley fires. It's just one more reason that hunters are worried about the fires' impact.
"People are very concerned about fire," said Idaho Fish and Game Public Information Supervisor Mike Demick.
Demick says their staff is receiving many calls from fishermen and hunters about the large wildfires torching parts of the Idaho wilderness. Despite the loss of some game this year, he says wildlife will be fine in the long-term. "Fire has been around for millions and millions and millions of years and wildlife are very adaptable."
Many people are also worried that once the fires are finally out, that their favorite hunting grounds could be turned into a wasteland for years to come.
Demick says that's not necessarily the case. "Over the long-term, fire actually has a lot of benefits for forest health."
He says most fires will leave islands of trees, can sterilize the soil, and even open up some areas for sun and moisture to help the re-growth of brush, which is what big game eat.
"The Lowman Fires are a great example of that," said Demick. "Twenty-some years ago, fires ripped through the Lowman country. The first couple years, it looked like a bomb went off. There wasn't a lot of growth. You drive back there now, and all you see is green."
So, what should hunters be worried about? According to Demick, it's their own safety. "We just want to encourage those hunters out there to be extra careful."
He says, anyone heading into the wilderness should know what campsites, roads, or hunting grounds are closed, like the hundreds of thousands acres in and around the Elk Complex right now.
Demick says, 'Know before you go,' but even then, understand that fire can creep up on you. "Things can change fairly quickly this time of year."
So, before you head up to hunt, fish, camp or hike, call your local ranger office. You can also check out Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Hunt Planner Map Center.
A mule-deer controlled hunt is scheduled to open up Thursday right in the area of the Elk Fire Complex. Half of the area is still open for hunting. However, if you have a tag to hunt there, and want to change it or get a rain-check, stop by a Fish and Game Office Thursday morning.