With hunting seasons beginning soon and ideal conditions for wildfires to spread, hunters should do their part to ensure they aren't contributing to the problem.
Here are 10 things every hunter can do during fire season:
Check your hunting area in advance of your hunt and see if there are fire closures or access restrictions due to fire danger. (The first is where wildfires are happening; the second is where land managers restrict access to prevent fires.) You can check Idaho Fish and Game's fire page at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/fire.
Most fires are typically extinguished or under control by October hunts. However, the Pioneer Fire which continues to burn in the Idaho City/Lowman area may potentially affect access this fall. If you know fires are burning in your hunting area, you may want to delay your hunts, or choose another area.
Be careful with all fires
Whether a campfire, gas lantern, cook stove, barbecue, etc., all can quickly start fires in tinder-dry forests and deserts. Firefighting resources are limited, and you don’t want to add to the problem. Know the fire restrictions for the area you're hunting and abide by them. Even after rain or snow, forests can remain dry and flammable.
Be careful with vehicles and other motorized equipment
Parking vehicles on dry grass can ignite fires. Chainsaws, generators and other machines with gas engines can start fires. Use them wisely and within the rules of fire restrictions.
Be on the lookout for fires
If you spot a wildfire, report it immediately by calling 911. Hunters may want to carry a shovel and water jug in their vehicle and put out any campfires they see left unattended.
Stay away from fire-fighting activities and abide by closures
Sometimes area closures seem to extend far beyond the actual fire, and hunters may be tempted to sneak into their favorite spot. It is illegal to enter a closed area. Wildfires can also move fast, and rescues require taking resources away from firefighting.
Avoid burned areas
They can be hazardous in many ways, including falling trees, holes, loose rocks, etc. They also aren't much fun to hunt. Give them a rest and let the land recover.
Beware of rainstorms
They will help put out any remaining fires, but rain can also cause flash flooding and landslides on newly burned areas.
Expect some closures even when the fires are out
Land managers are cautious with newly burned areas and may keep restrictions in place well into winter and possibly longer.
Understand fires aren't all bad
Fires can have tragic consequences, as we have seen with lost lives, burned homes and disrupted lives and livelihoods. But fires can also improve wildlife habitat, and in most wildlands, are part of the natural cycle.