September 11, 2011
After months of rehabilitation following the historic Wallow Fire, a young
red-tailed hawk returned to Arizona’s skies when it was released on Sept. 14 by
the Arizona Game and Fish Department and its Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center at
Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear.
The months-old nestling was found on the fringes of an area burned by the Wallow
Fire after it was prematurely flushed from its nest by the fire.
The bird was initially treated in June for dehydration and malnourishment at
Game and Fish’s Emergency Wildlife Treatment Center that was established in
Eagar to help wildlife affected by the fire. Once the young female was
stabilized, it came to the department’s wildlife center in Phoenix and has spent
the last few months being rehabilitated. Now, after learning how to survive and
hunt prey from red-tailed hawk foster parents, rehabilitators released the hawk
at a time when many birds (including other red-tailed hawks) from northern parts
of the state are descending to the Valley’s lower elevations for the winter.
Contrary to popular belief, wildlife are adapted to coping with wildfires.
Scientific studies and observations by wildlife biologists indicate that adult
wildlife do not panic and flee from wildfire, but instead move away from the
smoke, tending to circle around the actively burning areas. However, some
wildlife is more prone to being impacted by wildfire, including young that have
been born that year and small animals and birds.
Supported by the Heritage Fund, the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center cares for
more than 1,000 sick and injured native wildlife every year. The center and a
critical volunteer group also provide wildlife education to local schools and
outreach to community groups. The center will be holding a free open house on
Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, 2011.