CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said on Monday, Aug. 17 that “hunters need to be especially cautious this fall with fire safety.”
“With drought conditions impacting much of Wyoming, the smallest spark can start a wildfire that can impact hunting across the state,” the department said.
Game and Fish Habitat and Access Branch Chief Ray Bredehoft says that the department has had to close entire hunting regions due to wildland fires in the past.
“Some of our hunt areas had to close completely in previous years as a result of fires in the area,” he said.
Fall wildfires tend to have higher temperatures and burn amid drier conditions than spring fires, according to Game and Fish. That can lead to soil being scorched and sterilized “to the point that native plants struggle to recover for years.” That can create management problems as weeds like cheatgrass can grow after such fires.
“Fall wildfires have much different implications than a controlled springtime fire,” Bredehoft said. “When fires are used as a management tool to benefit wildlife, they burn at a different temperature in a controlled environment for a specific purpose.”
Game and Fish have already implemented fire bans in the Casper, Laramie, Lander and Sheridan regions.
“A fire ban is meant to keep the public safe and protect wildlife habitat,“ Bredehoft said. “If there are restrictions on Game and Fish property, they will be posted on the website as they are implemented or lifted.”
Check Game and Fish webpages for rules in each region and information about fire bans. Game and Fish fire bans include the following prohibitions:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal grill, or coal or wood burning stove
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, at a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials
- Fireworks are always prohibited on Wyoming Game and Fish lands
- Fires within an established ring are also banned in Public Access Areas under this regulation
“The U.S. Forest Service and other land-management agencies may also have fire bans on their property,” Game and Fish add. “Hunters should check with each respective land-management agency to see if their camping location has any fire restrictions or rules.”
Game and Fish encourage hunters to use “extreme care when building fires at camp and ensure they are completely out before going to bed, leaving for the day or packing out.”
This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.