When firefighters get called on to battle a raging forest fire, their main job is to protect the land and work tirelessly to prevent the spread of the wildfire. Their priorities typically don’t include the rescue of wildlife, but during the most recent forest fire that has been consuming Arizona a team of 20 specialized remote-area firefighters called the Hotshot Crew, were faced with a unique rescue while putting out the fire, they came across two helpless fawns and had to act fast. The Goodwin Fire has been raging on since June 24th in the Prescott National Forest, Arizona.
“There was a 100 percent certainty that these fawns were going to die.”
#GoodwinFire While combatting the Goodwin Fire Friday evening the Flagstaff Hotshots found two deer fawns in danger of being impacted by the flames. The Hotshots carried the fawns out of harm's way and transferred them to a nearby unaffected habitat so they could be reunited with their mother. (Video credit: Steve Rhine/USDA US Forest Service Prescott National forest)
Posted by U.S. Forest Service – Prescott National Forest on Saturday, July 1, 2017
Kale Casey, a spokesperson for the Goodwin Fire incident management team, told the Washington Post that while fighting the fire along the fire line on Friday evening, the crew came upon two fawns who appeared to be without a mother. Rather than leave them with flames raging merely feet away, the hotshot crew picked up the two deer and carried them to safety.
As of July 5th the wildfire has covered over 28,000 acres but is 91% contained. Simply because their job is to stay ahead of the fire and dig fire lines to prevent the spread, Casey says that often it’s not practical for crews to rescue the large injured animals they may come across and unfortunately, sometimes when they come across animals it’s too late.
“They’re a service-oriented people. … so they’re not going to walk by.”
Following the rescue, which was captured on camera, Prescott National Forest shared images and videos of the rescue online. Not surprisingly, the crew received hundreds of comments praising their efforts.
When the hotshot crew brought the fawns to a safety, they hoped their mother would return for her babies, but that didn’t happen. In an update shared a few days after the rescue, Prescott National Forest said that in the early morning crews noticed one of the fawns was very disoriented and they were concerned, so they transported the baby animals to a wildlife rehabilitation facility.
All involved in the rescue and rehabilitation process hope to safely release the deer back into the wild, once they are old enough.
#GoodwinFire When we left the story of the rescued fawns, members of the #FlagstaffHotshots had discovered a pair of fawns threatened by advancing flames. They carried the fawns out of danger and placed them in nearby safe habitat. At the change-over from the night shift to day shift another crew found that one of the fawns seemed disoriented and was not doing well. This crew called the Arizona Game and Fish Department and stayed with the fawns until wildlife managers arrived. The Goodwin Fire fawns have been transported to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility. If they respond to treatment they will ultimately be released when old enough to make the transition back to a life in the wild. While Arizona Game and Fish Department encourage people not to pick up baby wildlife, under these extenuating circumstances the firefighters were moving the fawns out of harm’s way.
Posted by U.S. Forest Service – Prescott National Forest on Sunday, July 2, 2017
Despite the rescue performed by the firefighters, taking an animal from its habitat if you suspect it to be injured or in danger is no easy thing to do. Wildlife organizations urge people not to take wildlife from their homes because the chances of taking them from their habitat will do harm outweigh the risk associated with wild animal rescue. Prescott National Forest said that what these firefighters did was because of extenuating circumstances.