Four ways to help wildlife after wildfires
This year’s wildfires brought tragic losses of human life, homes, and habitat. The losses and impacts will be felt for years to come.
We at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have seen an outpouring of generosity from communities and businesses coming together to rebuild, offering a helping hand to their neighbors, and giving gifts of food and supplies to those in need.
We also know that Washingtonians care deeply for wildlife. Your interest in helping us support recovery of wildlife populations affected by the wildfires has truly been astounding.
If you’re interested in helping wildlife affected by wildfires, consider helping one of these four ways.
1. Get involved with organizations doing restoration work in your area. Conservation and restoration stewardship efforts need support from folks like you to be successful. As a state natural resource agency, WDFW works with many local, regional, and national non-profit organizations that are doing great work on the ground to improve habitat for our wildlife. Please consider volunteering or donating to these causes to address impacts to wildlife habitat on our lands and elsewhere.
2. Please don’t feed wildlife. While we appreciate the positive sentiment to help by providing feed in areas that have been burned, we ask that folks resist the urge to feed deer and elk.
Deer and elk digestion is different from ours and a sudden change in diet from natural forage to foods like hay or apples can significantly compromise their digestive systems. It takes time for their stomachs to adjust to new foods. This makes it difficult to for them to absorb the nutrients they need, and the wrong foods could cause them to lose precious fat reserves going into the approaching winter season.
3. Contact your local rehabilitation center. During this time, if you find burned or injured wildlife, you should call a trained and permitted wildlife rehabilitator. You can find a list of them on the WDFW website. Even if it seems the rehabilitator is some distance away, they can give appropriate advice and may even be able to meet for a transfer of the animal to them. We are highly supportive of our permitted wildlife rehabilitators. In addition, these rehabilitators have been taking in burned and impacted wildlife. Most of their efforts run off the contributions of volunteers and supporters. Reach out to a wildlife rehabilitator near you to see how you can provide them some assistance.
4. Contact us. If you have questions or concerns about a specific wildlife-related issue, like potential crop damage from displaced wildlife, we can help get you the information and assistance you need. You can also find useful information on our living with wildlife webpages.
WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.