British Columbia

B.C. wildlife struggles with summer heat and wildfires

A summer heat wave and extensive wildfires in the B.C. Interior have been abnormally hard on animals in the province, especially nestlings. Wildlife rescuers say they're seeing a high number of young animals dehydrated.

Nestlings jumping out of nests to avoid the heat, says wildlife rescuer

This Virginia Rail was found in Sechelt and is one of the tiniest birds the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. has taken into its Burnaby hospital. (Wildlife Rescue Association of BC)

A summer heat wave and extensive wildfires in the B.C. Interior have been abnormally hard on animals in the province, especially nestlings. 

Burnaby's Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. services the entire province, and says it's taking in 20 injured animals a day, with 95 percent suffering from dehydration.

"The heat is overwhelming them, particularly the past couple weeks have been really bad. We've had a lot of young nestlings, jumping out of nests to avoid the heat," said Sam Smith, communications coordinator at Wildlife Rescue. 

Smith says when young birds leave the nest too early, they end up falling on the ground and start to waste away, because they don't yet have the strength to fly or move. 

This Pelagic Cormorant was taken into the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. suffering from dehydration due to the summer heat. (Wildlife Rescue Association of BC)

Smith says it's mostly birds that he sees affected by the heat, including songbirds, waterfowl, marine animals, crows and ravens. 

"Sometimes, they're just so out of sorts, they can't even drink, let alone open up their mouths to be given fluids," he said. In those cases, he says, they have to hydrate the animals with an injection. 

People can help, though, says Smith. "Leave a little lid out with some water in the shade, or, better yet, fill a small kiddie pool with water and place some branches/stones inside to allow smaller birds a place to perch while they drink."

If anyone sees wildlife in distress, they can usher it into some shade, get it water and call Wildlife Rescue at 604-526-7275.

Nestlings rescued from wildfires

The wildfires have claimed their own victims, with wildlife rescue an afterthought.

Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) in Delta says they have been taking in young birds injured or left behind in the wake of the wildfires.

The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society says they currently have nine rescued animals ready to go back into the wild, including four saw-whet Owls, one long-eared owl, and four kestrel falcons. (OWL Orphaned Wildlife)

"Most of the adult birds at the time or adult animals would know to flee. It's just the young ones that are left behind … So a lot were probably burnt up pretty good, and the ones that could survive, survived, and the ones that were found, were found," said Rob Hope, raptor care manager with OWL. 

Hope says they have nine baby birds live tested, flight tested and ready to get back to their communities, once the fires subside.