Tallying Wildlife Impacts
Only a few short years ago, we had a "wildfire season" here in California and across the western United States. But thanks to our changing climate (drought, more mild winters, and exploding bark beetle populations) and our ill-advised management (fire suppression merged with unchecked urban sprawl), we now find ourselves in an era of perpetual fire. From massive fires in the depths of winter (e.g. 2017's Thomas Fire) to the ever-quicker falling of fire "records," we need a new understanding of the natural history of fire-dependent and fire-impacted ecosystems.
We have been documenting the impacts of roads and related stressors upon vertebrate populations for more than 15 years. Fire impacts first caught our eye when the Camarillo Springs Fire burned through our campus and monitoring sites in May of 2013, killing a large number of animals. We ran our first crowd sourced effort (see the map below) to document burned animals in December of 2017 as the Thomas Fire was still weeks from full containment. Armed with what we learned from that effort, we are now hoping to get an even wider, more complete array of observations from our current fire season burning across our wildliands.