In an effort to improve wildlife habitat in N.C., the Wildlife Resources Commission continues to conduct prescribed burns on game lands across the state. Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, are one of the most beneficial and cost-effective methods for managing and improving habitat for wildlife. This simple and effective management tool helps the Commission restore and maintain wildlife habitat on nearly 2 million acres of game lands.
Many of North Carolina’s declining or rare wildlife species like the Red-cockaded woodpecker and the Bachman’s sparrow are adapted to fire or can only survive in fire-assisted habitat. Burning encourages production of native grasses and herbaceous vegetation, which provide valuable food and cover for a wide variety of wildlife species including kestrels, deer and fox squirrels. Prescribed burns are also used to reduce high levels of forest fuels (such as leaf litter and pine straw) that can cause deadly wildfires.
Fire was a natural occurrence in North Carolina to which animals have adapted. While conducting necessary prescribed burns, the Commission employs safety measures to help protect native wildlife by using burning techniques that ensure animals have time and room to escape. Wind conditions, humidity, time of year and other variables are factored in to reduce the effects of smoke on people, nesting birds and other wildlife. After an area is burned, exposed insects and seeds are available for birds and rodents to forage while quality new vegetation typically returns within a few weeks, providing cover and nutrients to a wide array of wildlife species.
For more information on prescribed burns, view No Cause for Alarm and visit Prescribed Fire: What NC Citizens Need to Know. For a schedule of prescribed burns planned for 2017, visit www.ncwildlife.org/fire. For details on the Commission’s game lands program, including an interactive game land map, visit www.ncwildlife.org/gamelands.
Article by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.