Friday, June 03, 2011
Fire evacuations in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area
(Bluestem uncollared wolves - Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team)
The Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona is blazing right through the habitat of Mexican wolves. As headlines focus on mandatory evacuations and the necessary abandonment of towns for human safety, we haven't seen one news article that has mentioned the serious threats this fire poses to the most imperiled mammal in North America. (SEE UPDATE, BELOW)
While we've certainly got sympathy for our fellow humans who might lose their houses in this blaze, we can't help but note the enormity of this stochastic event on wolves already teetering on the brink of extinction. Three packs (Rim, Bluestem, and Hawk's Nest) are in harm's way, and any young pups in dens are surely doomed even if the parents make it to safe ground. Given the low numbers of wolves in the wild to begin with, any further losses creates a scary scenario.
We could rant and rave about the land management practices that create this situation, everything from climate alteration to changed fuel availability. But in light of the potential outcomes for Mexican wolves here, we don't much feel like it. Some other day, when the rains come and the smoke clears. Right now, we'll just hope against hope that those dens are deep, the fire leaps the canyons, and the critters and their ancient wisdom know what to do to survive.
UPDATE 6/6: There are now a couple of news stories about the impacts of the Wallow Fire on wolves.
Here and here.
Arizona Game and Fish Department has also issued a statement. Whenever AGFD tells us everything is hunky-dory, we get a sinking feeling in our stomachs.