Bighorn Fire positive for wildlife

Update on wildfires in Pima County June 10

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the Bighorn fire continues to burn in the Catalina's, research scientists said it could start to slow.

Research Scientist Jim Melusa with the University of Arizona said the fire is currently moving along one of the only spots that has not burned in the past 100 years.

The vegetation is untouched and easily sparked and it's why the fire has moved so quickly.

But it’s nearing the 2003 Aspen fire line where it’ll have less to work with.

"That’s all been burned so once it hits that, we would expect it to drastically slow down," said Melusa.

The location is prime real estate for wildlife but Game and Fish says they’ll stay away. And while their gone, the flames will do them a favor.

"Wildfire is a good thing," said Mark Hart with Arizona Game and Fish.

The fire cleans up the habitat and dense vegetation for the animals like big horn sheep. And from the ash, new sprouts and greens will grow.

“It’s a great food source for big horn sheep—think of it as a big horn salad bar," said Hart.

While their chances of becoming someone else’s meal decreases.

“It clears dense brush which is at ground level but also bushes and other things that conceal predators,” said Hart.

And when the smoke finally clears from above, the impact for those on the ground will remain.

“This is going to be a good thing for big horn sheep and other species long term," said Hart.

Both Hart and Melusa said life will slowly come back to the burned area once the fire is out.

And while you shouldn’t expect to see any increase of animals in neighborhoods around the foothills- Hart says always call Game and Fish at 623 236-7201 if you see an animal in distress due to the fire.

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