Photo shows bear's plight as wildfires spread in B.C.
Published Saturday, July 11, 2015 9:46AM EDT
As wildfires continue to spread across Western Canada, a photo of a bear in trouble is spreading across the Internet, drawing attention to the threat fires pose to local wildlife.
In the photo, a young black bear scrambles among rocks near the shore of B.C.'s Sproat Lake. In the background, advancing flames devour trees on the province's Dog Mountain.
Steve Kendall, from Port Alberni, B.C., captured the image while boating with his father on the lake.
Scientists say animals can usually sense the threat of forest fires, and they instinctively try to find a safe escape.
"These are animals that are extremely cognizant of their surroundings, keeping an eye out around them, sniffing the wind all the time," University of British Columbia zoologist Wayne Goodey told CTV Vancouver Island. "I don't think it is very easy to take them by surprise."
Sometimes, however, creatures do become trapped by the flames.
In a case last summer, a young female bear, nicknamed Cinder, became trapped under a trailer in Washington State, after the heat of a wildfire melted the pads of her paws.
Cinder was rescued and flown to California, where she received treatment for her burns. She was re-released into the wild a year later, alongside a new friend, a young male bear.
Stories such as Cinder's, or the bear in Kendall's photo, are shedding light on the risk wildfires pose to Western Canada's wildlife.
As of Friday, there were 78 active wildfires in B.C. alone. In Alberta, there were an additional 99 fires, and Saskatchewan had 199 active fires.
Thousands of evacuees have been forced from their homes, and Environment Canada has issued special air quality statements in all three provinces, due to smoke.
The fire on Dog Mountain, where Kendall photographed the bear, reached a size of four square kilometres on Thursday.
It is believed to have been caused by humans.
With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Peter Grainger.