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.
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.
But not all of them.
Healthy animals, such as elk, deer, moose, bears and sheep have been seen in the area.
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.
The deaths are also providing food.
Over the years, the landscape will come back.
Fire is part of the natural cycle.
Meanwhile, people are warned to be careful around the park.
Wildlife may be displaced or acting strange due to the impact of the fire, Parks Canada warns.
“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.
Photos Parks Canada