Willow Fire Impacts Animals In Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

Published: Friday, August 28, 2015 - 8:46am
(Photo courtesy of Havasu National Wildlife Refuge)
The southwestern willow flycatcher is federally endangered.
(Photo via inciweb.nwcg.gov)
The Willow Fire that burned near Mohave Valley in western Arizona earlier this month charred more than 6,700 acres.

The Willow Fire that burned near Mohave Valley in western Arizona earlier this month charred more than 6,700 acres. It also burned around 1,000 acres of habitat in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. 

The refuge sits along the lower Colorado River and is home to hundreds of animals, including some that are threatened and endangered. When the Willow Fire came through, it destroyed some habitat used by the threatened northern Mexican garter snake, as well as three kinds of birds, including the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher.

Brandon Melton, a refuge biologist, said those birds could move their nesting site

"And potentially off refuge and into different sites," said Melton. "They’re already in low numbers, so that could really, potentially hurt survivorship and nesting success."

Like with many fires, there are pros and cons. In this case, it can help improve and restore the natural habitat. On the con side, some birds like the flycatcher have adapted to the existing habitat, and even nest in the invasive plants, which cover parts of the refuge. 

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