Outdoors

Idaho wildfires take toll on wildlife

WILDLIFE — An aerial survey of the Elk Fire Complex on Thursday showed a number of animals and birds were killed by the wildfire burning east of Boise, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say. 

After a two-hour overflight, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Scott Bodle reported seeing a total of 14 elk, 31 mule deer, one bear, one osprey, one coyote and one raccoon killed by the fire.

A number of birds were found on the ground, apparently dead of asphyxiation.

  • Several other major fires are burning, including blazes that are threatening Hailey and Sun Valley.

Bodle estimated that most of the animals died in the initial 48 hours of the fire when fire conditions resulted in extremely rapid growth. Winds of about 30 mph carried burning embers that started spot fires up to half a mile ahead of main fire.

Witnesses describe it as a fire tornado, Bodle told Idaho Fish and Game. In the first three days the fire grew to more than 100,000 acres.

Most of the animals were seen in small groups at the upper ends of drainages where they were unable to escape when fire conditions turned extreme.  About half of the fire area where the extreme fire conditions occurred was surveyed. The flight crew also observed many, estimated in the hundreds, live deer and elk in burned areas and in live vegetation.

The fire was started by lightning in the evening of Thursday, August 8, about 10 miles southwest of Pine. As of Friday afternoon, August 16, the fire perimeter enclosed about 125,000 acres.

The fire growth has slowed significantly.

The Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation has established an emergency fund for wildlife habitat rehabilitation in response to the fires. To make a donation, go to https://www.ifwf.org/donate/.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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