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Do forest animals get hurt during prescribed fires?
- Florida wildlife has relied on and adapted to fire for millennia. The majority know exactly how to stay safe during burns. They fly away, climb trees, burrow, go into stump holes, or retreat to wetlands.
- On occasion, individual animals may perish. However, the resulting habitat improvements from prescribed fire remain highly valuable because they help ensure the survival of wildlife species overall.
- The bigger threat to many species of Florida wildlife is fire exclusion – active efforts to put out and stop all fire. In areas where prescribed burns are not conducted, overgrowth is left unchecked and smothers native plant species that serve as food and habitat for wildlife. Overgrowth also eliminates open ground conditions that many species rely on for their habitats. Two examples are bobwhite quail, which lose the ability to walk through and forage in overgrown forest floors, and Bachman’s sparrows, which need recently burned areas to nest.