WINTHROP (AP) — State biologists are worried about how deer are going to survive this winter in the Methow Valley, where the largest wildfire in Washington history blackened 400 square miles.
The lightning-sparked Carlton Complex fire destroyed hundreds of homes after it started in July. It also left little for deer to eat.
KING-TV reports that the Department of Fish and Wildlife is opening an antlerless hunting season this fall to allow hunters to kill an extra 200 to 300 of the animals, and officials are also preparing to supply food to the herds if it looks like a massive die-off is likely.
Fish and Wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin says that over the next six weeks, cold and snow in the mountains will send thousands of deer into lowland areas, where they’d normally munch on brush to survive the winter. If nothing is done, officials fear the deer will move into farm and orchard lands, which can cause serious agricultural damage, or scavenge for whatever brush is available, inhibiting the land’s natural ability to recover after wildfires.