Wildlife In Need After Wildfires In Tahoe, CA
Myself and fellow responder Wit Davis are currently in the southern area of Lake Tahoe, CA where uncontrollable wildfires have just recently became contained, preventing further damage. For a week and two days, the wildfires created swift paths through forests and neighborhoods, causing millions of dollars in damage to residential areas and unbearable suffering to local wildlife. On a sad note, bodies of animals have been seen burned "in running poses"; the horror of not being able to escape.
The cause of the fires is believed to be a campfire that was not completely extinguished in a "no campfire zone".
The fires spread so quickly, due to drought, wind and other variables, that residents of the South Lake Tahoe area had very little time to evacuate; if they knew to evacuate at all. However, firefighters (over 2000 of them from all over the US!) responded promptly and are now being thanked across town through words of gratitude on banners hanging from homes, restaurants and overpasses: "Thank you firefighters for all your work ".
Wit and I are here in support of a local wildlife rehabilitation effort called the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care (LTWC) that has provided care and treatment to injured wildlife in the Tahoe region since the 1970s! Everyone from on-the-scene firefighters to concerned residents have been calling to report injured wildlife, or calling because wildlife is now unexpectedly popping up in populated areas. A bobcat was reported running along a main road in the downtown area and a bear, lost and confused (slightly anthropomorphic description but UNDENIABLE) trapped itself between fences just behind the wildlife clinic, not sure which direction was safe.
Just as many people have lost their homes and are looking for shelter and help to comfort them in moving on with life, local wildlife has also lost their homeland and territory once rich in food. They have no choice but to search elsewhere, even in unwanted areas. The director of LTWC, Cheryl Millham, said to us today that many of the calls that come in are cases that need to be "defused"; meaning people just don't know what to do with the increased number of wildlife, now roaming refugees, that are encroaching onto decks and into trash cans.
So, IFAW's purpose is to be here to support LTWC and their effort to care for fire affected injured wildlife and to search the human/wildlife conflict zones for injured wildlife that have not yet been reported.
Photos and stories are coming.....