For wildlife, wildfires are part of the natural cycle
As midvalley residents were allowed back into their homes after evacuating earlier this month when the Lake Christine Fire broke out, some of the valley’s other residents — bears, deer, and countless other wildlife species that call Basalt Mountain home — aren’t as fortunate.
Mike Porras, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northwest Region, said there’s been an uptick in wildlife sightings in the area since the Lake Christine Fire. In recent days, several Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs residents have reported on Facebook bear and other wildlife making their way in town.
“We’ve had numerous people call concerned about the wildlife,” Porras said. “We’ve heard of people seeing bears and deer likely displaced from the fire.”
According to Porras, wildfires are a natural part of living on the Western Slope for the wildlife, and while some animals may be displaced, they will rebound, he said.
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“Wildlife will adapt and have lived under these conditions for eons,” Porras added. “Long-term, they will be OK.”
With 11,796 acres burned, and at 39 percent containment as of Tuesday morning, the Lake Christine Fire has forced wildlife off of Basalt Mountain to find new homes.
However, Porras said he’s seen wildlife return to their former habitat as soon as a week after a fire, depending on the extent.
“Fires happen for a variety of reasons, and this fire may lead to more sightings in Garfield County, but the species are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves,” he said.
If somebody sees an animal injured from a fire, Porras recommends calling CPW or Colorado State Patrol, and to let those agencies handle it.
“We’re recommending to folks, if you see wildlife in areas that you may not expect to see them to leave them alone,” he said. “Wildlife knows how to respond to fire and will return to their former habitat after the fire is out, depending on variables.”
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.