“Deer in Fire,” Mosaic by Patti Jacquemain
As I write todays post, there are many out of control wildfires burning throughout the West. Currently, in Santa Barbara County alone, there are two large fires consuming thousands of acres of vegetation, man-made structures, and we have to presume, wildlife. It seems to me as if it is the new “normal” each year to have these fires just break out suddenly, destroying everything in their path.
I know the threat because twice a wildfire came up to the edge of my property causing us to evacuate. Luckily, the fire changed direction before our home was burned, but during the evacuation, we could not return for several days, never knowing if it was still standing or not.
These fires are devastating, disrupting, and so scary to us all. However, I also think of what is happening to our wildlife when one of these monster, fast-moving, fires occur. They must certainly be petrified, but all they can do is to run away from the flames. The larger animals, such as deer, elk, mountain lions, and coyotes, have the ability to run and escape. But, it is not as easy for the smaller creatures to find safety. It frustrates me no end, that I know of nothing I can do to help them. If an animal has been injured or burned, we have professionals that can and have helped if they can reach them. However, as someone who has a deep affection for wildlife, and has depicted wildlife in my art many times, I am frustrated that there is so very little I can do to help them as an individual.
I can only surmise that it is very frightening and painful for our wild neighbors when a fire strikes their home, and my heart goes out to them all. If animals could speak to us, perhaps this is what they might say:
We’re the gentle creatures you see,
In hills and fields of this county.
But early this morning, I smelled smoke,
For me, that’s scary, it’s no joke.
It’s all animals greatest fear,
Scorching flames coming very near.
Humans say that fires can be good,
Clearing the brush . . . burning the wood.
But when it gets out of control,
A fire can cause a dreadful toll!
How to escape? Where to I flee?
Fires may be good, but not for me.
So . . . I agree with Smokey the Bear,
Be careful with fire! Take great care!