Wildlife experts are calling for people to be on the lookout for animals fleeing from the CZU Lightning Complex fire, which is 21% contained as of Thursday morning. As the forest burns, wildlife are abandoning their homes and seeking safe shelter.
Santa Cruz-based Native Animal Rescue (NAR) is urging people to bring their domesticated animals inside at night. This will safeguard them in case wild animals are forced to pass through. Residents are also encouraged to put out buckets of water for the wildlife, but not food, and to give them as much space as possible.
“They are scared, exhausted, and have lost their homes—they need to rest and refuel,” NAR wrote in a Facebook post. “We love our wildlife … please spread the word.”
Amy Redfeather of NAR said that, so far, the organization has not received any injured animals. This may be due to the fact that the fires are not too fast-moving; animals are perhaps finding routes to safe areas of the forest.
However, NAR does expect that some residents will encounter animals in distress once they return to their properties in the coming weeks.
“Hopefully, it won’t be too late by then,” Redfeather said.
Several of the organization’s rehab volunteers, who care for native animals at their homes in Boulder Creek, have had to return the animals to the main center in Santa Cruz. This will somewhat disrupt the animals’ rehabilitation, Redfeather explained.
The organization is also dealing with people calling about domesticated animals, which NAR does not deal with. For all issues regarding domestic animals—from dogs to alpacas—residents are asked to contact the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. Hundreds of evacuated animals are being held at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.