(CBS4) – People who live in the mountains are living in wildlife’s backyard, so when we need to flee from fire, they do too. Now, as people run for their lives away from the East Troublesome Fire, so does the wildlife who call Grand County home.
“They’re pretty smart and they can get out ahead of these moving fires,” says Shannon Schaller, Senior Wildlife Biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region.
While no two fires are the same, in general, finding safety in a fire is part of wildlife in the Colorado Rockies.
“They’re going to go to whatever is available, honestly, and there is habitat outside of this forest for them to go to,” Schaller says.
While there haven’t been any reports of injured or killed animals yet, it is early. One thing working in the animals’ favor is the time of year.
“There definitely will be casualties but given that the young animals are older and bigger, I’m hoping that they were able to move into safe zones and not be caught in the flames,” says Schaller.
The wildlife is a huge tourist draw for Grand County, but now, depending on how damaging this fire ends up being, wildlife may not return, at least to the burn area, any time soon.
“Long term we might actually see a shift in far as where they are living because this is just unavailable habitat for them to get food,” says Schaller.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife says people who live in the vicinity of a fire may see an increased animal sightings and remind people to give them their space. CPW also says it’s always a good idea to donate to state certified rehab facilities if you want to help out.