Wildfires have left almost 1000 people evacuated and smoke has taken over southern Oregon. We are certainly no exception to the smoky conditions. Over the last week and a half we have taken extra precautions to ensure the animals in our care are healthy and safe.
Crates, carriers and supplies are staged outside enclosures just in case an evacuation is necessary. Some animals are easier than others to crate. Nestle, the river otter, is a dream to crate while the wolf ambassadors’ skittish nature means crating them can take extra time. Rogue and Takelma, the newest large mammal Animal Ambassadors, are working on their crating skills. This training involves showing them that the crates are associated with something they like… in this case – one of their trainers!
The proximity to the Taylor Creek Fire has caused the smoke, ash, and other particulate matter to be harmful to humans. Because of this we have limited, or at times, cancelled our tours. Kids enrolled in Camp EEK are kept indoors as much as possible and offered masks when going out doors is necessary. We have limited our volunteer shifts to the bare minimum and made masks available to everyone working on campus.
Keeping the animals who call Wildlife Images home and the patients in our care safe from the smoke is a whole different ball game. In the wild animals follow their natural instincts that are meant to protect them during wildfires. For some animals, including birds, that means leaving when the smoke moves in. Birds have very sensitive respiratory systems so it’s important to limit their exposure to smoke and particulates as much as possible. The first step we take is to bring the birds in from the weathering yard. We also hose down the birds’ enclosures several times a day to limit the amount of particulates in the air. We’ve also hung wet sheets on viewing windows to keep as much ash and smoke as possible.
When smoke & heat linger the animals tend to become a bit more lethargic. During this time we closely monitor their behavior and provide them with activities and opportunities that will keep them cool and comfortable. Some of the smaller animals, like the tortoises have been taken indoors and are currently living in their winter housing.
We have some incredible volunteers who, despite the poor conditions show up to help every day! We couldn’t do this without them! Our community partners with the Bureau of Land Management and Oregon Department of Forestry have kept us informed. Safeway Pharmacy stepped up and donated excess ice packs to keep medicines and food cold in case of an evacuation. We also have a huge following across southern Oregon (and beyond) that has reached out to check on us and offer help. We are so grateful to all of you!
Thank you signs made by Camp EEK kids.