Rescue | Rehab | Release (520) 290-9453

The Bighorn Fire and wildlife

The Bighorn Fire and wildlife

This barn owl was rescued near the Golden Ranch area of the fire.

Like the Aspen Fire of 2003, the Bighorn Fire is mostly inaccessible. There are no roads… and the landscape is very rugged; from the shrubs that are down lower, to the pines that are up higher. Tucson Wildlife Center followed the “Hotshots”, and the local firefighters, every day for 30 days while the Aspen Fire burned. The June fire burned close to 90,000 acres that summer in 2003. We saw many squirrels and deer that we could not capture. Most had burned feet and pock-marked fur from hot falling ash. A cougar and a bear were found perished. We had to assume the nestling birds in the fire’s path could not escape. Tucson Wildlife Center was only able to help several deer, a lone coyote pup, and a gray fox mother whose babies had died in their den.

Fire is devastating to the wildlife in its path. They have no warning, no maps, and no escape routes or support if they were to be able to return when it is over. Wide swaths of fire leave no sustainable food source and rarely any water.

The brave “Hotshots” and the Mt. Lemmon Fire Department, who trek far off the roads, kept Tucson Wildlife Center crews safe and informed. They were able to trap and rescue the burnt mother fox for our hospital to give emergency treatment and save.

We are sure the firefighters, their incident commanders, and the Game & Fish Department who are monitoring the Bighorn Fire will once again help us rescue any animal that can be rescued.

Call Tucson Wildlife Center for any wildlife rescues at 520-290-WILD (9453).


3 things you can do to help wildlife escaping the flames:

1. Provide water

Provide shallow containers of water for critters in need of hydration that are escaping the flames. Make sure water sources are shallow or have a ramp, rocks, or sloping sides so young birds and mammals can drink without drowning. Never feed wildlife, as this can cause them to rely on humans for food.

2. Give wildlife space (call before you rescue)

Please be kind to wildlife as they may become displaced while fleeing the fire. If you see an increase of wildlife in your neighborhood, leave them alone and they will eventually move on. Contact Tucson Wildlife Center at 520-290-WILD(9453) before rescuing wildlife that seem injured, sick or orphaned.

 3.  Help prevent future wildfires

Help prevent fires by being a smart camper, celebrating without fireworks, pulling invasive grasses, and more!

  • For tips on how to prevent wildfires from the American Red Cross, click here.
  • To help beat back buffelgrass, an invasive fire-prone plant invading our Sonoran Desert, click here.


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