How do wildfires impact Utah’s wildlife?

BOUNTIFUL, Utah (ABC4 News) – It’s been a treacherous week with flames destroying homes and devastating property along the benches in Northern Utah.

Fires often have a wide range of ripple effects, and wildlife can be one of those areas. This year’s fire season has consisted of lower elevation fires, with snowpack helping to keep fire fuels moist in the high country. Lower elevation fires don’t displace animals as much as high mountain fires, but long term impacts in the lower elevations can be worrisome.

“They were a little lower elevation, that has a little more negative impact, on our wildlife species because they are coming into these lower areas to feed during the winter, sometimes it can be a little bit harder for them to find food,” said Faith Heaton Jolley of the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Fires destroy ecosystems and remove winter food sources and habitat for deer and elk can making it tougher for the animals. Wildfires also have major impact on local rivers and streams.

“They can often be a lot more impacted, a lot of the stream runoff with ash coming into the waterways that can kill off our fish populations,” said Jolley.

High elevation fires can benefit big game by clearing out the forest and creating new growth.

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