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3 Ways to Protect Wildlife During a Controlled Burn on Your Land

3 ways to protect wildlife during a controlled burn on your land

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Published date:

May 21, 2023

Last updated date:

December 05, 2023

By Ana Mendoza

Owning land comes with a lot of responsibilities. And depending on where you live, the type of property you own, and your land usage, one of those responsibilities may include controlled burns. 

Controlled burns, also known as prescribed burns, have a lot of benefits for outdoor habitats. This includes mitigating the risk of wildfires and destroying invasive plants. These types of burns can also be essential to helping certain flora and fauna thrive on your land. 

Of course, prescribed or not, all fires come with risks, especially to wildlife. Reducing these risks as much as possible is key to a successful burn, and a must if you want to support an ongoing healthy environment on your property. 

So how do you strategically plan burns on your land without posing a risk to the local wildlife who share your environment? Here are three tips to help ensure that your controlled burn doesn’t put animals at risk.

1. Do Several Smaller Burns, Instead of One Large Burn

Rather than tackling one huge burn area, divide your burn site into several smaller areas with plenty of safe space around for wildlife to escape to. Doing this helps provide animals with a nearby place to flee from smoke and flames, and is also a good general practice for keeping your burn contained. 

If possible, make sure that at least a portion of the provided safe space is unburned. This will provide critters, insects, and other wild creatures with an abundant place to run to – and a hint on where to go. 

2. Avoid Burning During Certain Seasons

There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when planning out the timing of your controlled burn. And when it comes to wildlife safety, that includes avoiding the mating and nesting seasons that generally take place between mid October and mid May. 

Sticking to this schedule means that your burn will take place when most animals are dormant. Many creatures, including mice and snakes, will simply burrow underground to avoid the flames, if they’re not there already. And others will have an easier time getting away and starting over in a new spot. 

3. Do a Walkthrough Once the Burn is Over

With proper precautions taken you’re unlikely to cause serious harm to wildlife during your controlled burn. However, you should still take the time to walk around the burn area once the fire is out and look for injured animals who might need your help. If you find one, call your local wildlife center to inquire about next steps. 

Done correctly, controlled burns have a lot more benefits to wildlife than dangers. Before embarking on one though, be sure to check out state and local laws and permit requirements. Depending on where you live, you may be required to hire a professional crew to come out – or you may do so anyway to guarantee that the burn is handled in the safest way possible for yourself, your land, and the wildlife that call it home.  

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