Arizona Game and Fish activates fire response unit to aid wildlife

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is activating its Wildlife Emergency Treatment Center in northeastern Arizona to aid wildlife that has been affected by the Wallow Fire.

The center is expected to be available to receive calls effective immediately, although it will not be fully operational to treat wildlife until Monday. Operations are expected to be located in the Springerville-Eager area, but an exact location will not be determined until evacuations are lifted and impacts assessed.

Members of the public that are interested in helping wildlife affected by the fire can visit the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Auxiliary website at www.azwildlifecenter.net.

To report orphaned or injured wildlife, call the Wildlife Emergency hotline at (623) 236-7242.

The public may either drop off wildlife once the location is announced or Game and Fish can pick up injured wildlife that are reported through the hotline. The department cannot accommodate domestic animals or livestock.

The center will be staffed by Game and Fish's wildlife veterinarian and employees from the department's Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center that are experienced in handling and rehabilitating injured wildlife.

"Based on scientific studies and observations of Game and Fish biologists, adult wildlife don't panic and flee from wildfire as many assume. They are very adapted to fire and will move away from the smoke, tending to circle around the actively burning areas," says Dr. Anne Justice-Allen, Arizona Game and Fish Department veterinarian. "However, there will still be some impacted animals, especially the young that have been born this year and small animals and birds."

While there are multiple wildfires burning across Arizona, a response team was selected for the Wallow fire due to the size of the area burned and the high density of animals that live in the habitats of northeastern Arizona. The department's Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, based in Phoenix, provides immediate triage and stabilization services to sick and injured wildlife and facilitates rehabilitation and release of animals back into the wild, where possible. The center also provides wildlife education to the public.

Game and Fish licenses a number of other wildlife rehabilitation facilities in the state, and these facilities are assisting with treatment and rehabilitation of wildlife in other parts of the state.

The department's liaison with the Incident Management Team has not received any reports of dead wildlife, and cases of injured animals are not likely to be reported until area evacuations are lifted.