Without a doubt, the devastating fires of Californio, which took place last November 2018, were tragic for the human species, but especially for the animals that lived in the area. What consequences does a situation like this have for them? What do they do to survive? Will they adapt to their new habitat? We are going to know what happened and will happen with the California wildlife, after being destroyed by fire.
Would you be able to tell which of the first animals, of all the wild fauna of California, such a spectacular place Would you be the first to perceive a forest fire? Surely it would be a mountain lion, whose keen sense of smell can recognize the danger long before the smoke spreads. Surely the mountain lion is the same as the human being; It is torn between the fear of fire and the uncertainty of leaving home.
So, what about the wildlife of California?
Korinna Domingo, conservation specialist at the Mountain Lion Foundation which is a wildlife conservation organization located in California says:
"I try to put myself in the mind of a mountain lion, how should the fire be up close and how risky should be the situation for the mountain lion to decide to leave?"
And it is that the wild fauna of California has the same instinct of survival. The question that arises in this case is: in a zone in full development and populated by millions of people, where can the animals go?
That is the question that researchers and forest agents ask themselves in the National Recreation Area of the Santa Monica Mountains. As you know, there was a terrible fire recently in this area, Southern California, which reached more than 100,000 acres of residential land.
Researchers from this National Recreation Area have been tracking dozens of mountain lions since 2002 using GPS collars. And, therefore, they can now better understand the behavior of the wildlife of California before the forest fires.
"It has become an unplanned experiment on what happens when you have an isolated protected area, and half of the habitat is eliminated with a fire"
Says Seth Riley, head of wild animals at the Santa Monica National Recreation Area.
Despite the catastrophic situation: "This fire will provide a great opportunity to see what various communities of wild animals do in these extreme conditions"
Mountain lions are very territorial animals and scientists want to discover if they will retain the same limits, once they return to their habitat.
"Many of the places where the lions live are confined to one another in a space in Santa Monica. It will be really interesting to see how those lions re-establish territories. Social structures can be completely disorganized " Says Riley.
It is true that many animals are displaced due to forest fires, however it is important to keep in mind that fires are sometimes not totally negative, from the ecological point of view. In reality, many California ecosystems depend on them to thrive.
"Fire, in the human sense, is often catastrophic, but it is not necessarily the same for animals" says Greg Giusti, a retired researcher at the University of California. According to Giusti, California's wildlife has evolved to respond to fires, and there are even times when it can benefit.
"It's hard, but you know that these animals have evolved to survive in that hostile environment."
There are different survival techniques that California wildlife can use, according to Giusti.
For example, birds that can fly do not usually have problems with fires unless it is spring, when they nest and raise their young. Another system, for those who can not fly, is the opposite. In a fire, the temperature can reach 900 degrees, however, below the surface the temperature drops sharply and can even reach 25 degrees. Species such as lizards, chipmunks, ground squirrels or mice can survive thanks to their underground burrows. But for all those animals such as deer, mountain lions or coyotes, not to fly and not to bury themselves only leaves them with the option of running out. Going running usually works well enough, however, in fires as virulent as the one that currently occurs in the north of California , ends up being very destructive for many of them.
"This fire was driven by incredibly strong winds and created a real firestorm. If you are a two-legged animal like a human or a four-legged animal like a deer, these fires move so fast that sometimes you just can not get over them. "
It is demonstrated that many of the animals that flee from an area that suffers a fire, end up returning when everything has already happened. Says Giusti that often the newly burned landscapes are good for the growth of new plants and new feeding opportunities.
This has been our article about California wildlife and its reality after a fire like the one that happened in November 2018. Have you been interested in knowing the above information? Leave us your comments and we will be happy to read them!