Wildfires reshape forests and change the behavior of animals that live there

By Taylor Ganz
The Conversation in the Longview Daily News
October 19, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

WASHINGTON — In the arid American West, wildfires now define summer. Recent years have seen some of the worst wildfires in recorded history. …Habitat degradation and other factors have caused populations of mule deer, a common species in many parts of the West, to decline across much of their native range. My collaborators and I recently published a study examining how mule deer use forests that have burned, and how wildfires affect deer interactions with cougars and wolves. We found that mule deer use these burns in summer but avoid them in winter. Deer also adjusted their movement to reduce predation risk in these burned landscapes, which varies depending on whether cougars or wolves are the threat. Understanding how mule deer respond to burns and interact with predators in burned areas may be essential for conserving and restoring wildlife communities.

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