Images of wildlife surviving the wildfire in Waterton Lakes National Park

Written by on November 21, 2017 in Critter MIA - No comments

When a wildfire ripped through the southwestern Alberta this fall, people and animals fled for their lives.

Only a few structures burned during the Kenow Fire. No humans perished. But many animals – stock herds and wildlife – did.

But this week, Parks Canada released some incredible images of the aftermath showing wild animals surviving among the ruins.

“A fire of this severity resulted in wildlife mortality, but many animals survived,” Parks Canada noted. “This is a collection of wildlife photographs captured in burned areas. Those animals that succumbed provide sustenance to those that survived.”

This is what happened after the fire.

“A large black bear forages along Cameron Creek in search of fish killed by the heat of the fire.” Parks Canada/Dan Rafla

The fire was unusual.

It grew rapidly, came with heavy black smoke and showed “extreme fire behaviour,” according to Parks Canada.

The “unprecedented” situation wiped out wildlife.

“Many big horn sheep escaped the fire. Now they must find areas of unburned habitat to carry them through the winter.” Parks Canada / Dan Rafla

But not all of them.

Healthy animals, such as elk, deer, moose, bears and sheep have been seen in the area.

“A white-tail doe looks for forage in a few unburned areas near a wetland along Blakiston Creek.” Parks Canada / Dan Rafla

Officials are still assessing the damage.

“Parks Canada is actively seeking out mortally wounded animals and is humanely euthanizing animals that have wounds that are not survivable or treatable,” the agency said in a statement. “Ending an animal’s life is always a last resort and is not a decision that we take lightly as our staff work very hard to protect wildlife and ecological integrity within the national park.”

It’s good news for some carnivores and scavengers.

“A large black bear feeds on a cow elk after the fire.” Parks Canada / Dan Rafla

The deaths are also providing food.

“A female black bear and her cub feed on a bull elk after the fire.” Parks Canada / Dan Rafla

Over the years, the landscape will come back.

Fire is part of the natural cycle.

“A cow moose wanders through the burned forest of the Akamina Parkway.” Parks Canada / Dan Rafla

Meanwhile, people are warned to be careful around the park.

“A wandering garter snake that survived the fire is found sunning itself along the Red Rock Parkway.” Parks Canada / John Stoesser

Wildlife may be displaced or acting strange due to the impact of the fire, Parks Canada warns.

“A ruffed grouse forages for food amongst the burned remains along the Red Rock Valley.” Parks Canada / Dan Rafla

“Wildlife behaviour is always unpredictable, and species in and around Waterton Lakes National Park will be under additional stress,” officials say.

Still, out of the ashes.

Some beauty.

“A golden eagle is observed flying above the Red Rock Valley.” Parks Canada / Dan Rafla

Photos Parks Canada

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