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Home » Santa Clarita News » Environment » SCV Outdoor Report » SCV Outdoor Report: Animals And Wildfire

SCV Outdoor Report: Animals And Wildfire

By: Wendy Langhans


During the 2003 fire in Towsley Canyon, this gopher survived by hiding underground. Photo courtesy of Paul Levine

Have you ever seen the Disney movie “Bambi”?  I did – a long time ago – when I was a child.  I vaguely remember the details of the fire scenes, but I distinctly remember that the flames frightened me and I was relieved to learn that the animals had survived.


I was reminded of “Bambi” this week as the wildfires erupted across our Santa Clarita valley.  What’s happening to the animals that live here?  How did they fare in the recent fires? 


I’m not the only one to ask these questions.  Fire Ecologists have researched this issue in the aftermath of earlier fires.  Based on what they have reported, here is my best estimate:


• Many animals survive by going underground, because dry soil works well as insulation.  Fire can be raging on the surface while an inch below, the temperature is similar to that of a warm sauna.  So many small animals, like snakes, lizards and most rodents, survive by going underground.


• Most birds survive because they can fly away.


• Things are a bit more precarious for larger animals, like deer, foxes, and coyotes, because they can escape only by running away.  So we do see some losses, but it’s important to recognize that many larger animals survive.  Studies from the 2003 Cuyamaca fire in San Diego found a deer survival rate of about 90%.


That’s just one more reason why we need wildlife corridors:  they provide a route for animals to escape from the burned area to an area with more food and cover.   This week, I think we all have a renewed appreciation for escape routes and safe havens. 


Wildlife corridors also provide a route for these animals to return when conditions improve.  May all who are displaced, both animal and human, eventually find their way home again.


There will be a full-moon hike on Friday, October 26 from 7:00-9:00 PM.  Towsley Canyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to


To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to or tune in to AM 1220.

SCV Outdoor Report: Animals And Wildfire

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