What do wild animals do in wildfires?
Big wildfires, like those tearing across California, can hurt some animals. Yet others escape—and some species even thrive.
Wildfires are raging across California, as the state faces a record-breaking fire season due to the destructive combination of a heat wave and strong winds. Blazes have burned more than two million acres of land—the most on record for a single wildfire season—and destroyed more than 3,300 structures so far. Meanwhile, warnings for severe fire danger have been issued across the West Coast of the United States, including in Oregon and Washington State.
It’s unclear how many animals have died—such data is not tracked consistently across regions—but it’s clear that even species that have evolved to thrive in habitats that burn regularly are facing new challenges.
“Wildlife have a long-standing relationship with fire,” ecosystem ecologist Mazeika Sullivan