Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season of the 21st century, with more than 47,000 square kilometers burned so far this year and more than 430 wildfires raging across the country.
The blazes have not only destroyed homes and communities but also threatened the lives and habitats of countless wildlife species.
Experts say that spring fires, such as the ones now burning across the country, are unusual and will possibly affect several species, from birds to mammals to insects.
Some animals may be able to escape the flames, but others may perish or lose their nesting sites. The smoke from the fires can also have acute health effects on animals, such as affecting their lungs, blood chemistry, immune system, and behavior.
Some of the most vulnerable wildlife are those that depend on old-growth forests, such as balsam fir and white spruce, which take a long time to recolonize an area after a fire. These include species like caribou, lynx, marten, and many songbirds. Some of these species are already at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and the wildfires may further accelerate their decline.
As the wildfire season continues, with months of hotter temperatures ahead, the fate of many wildlife species hangs in the balance. The fires have exposed the fragility of Canada’s biodiversity and the need for more conservation efforts to protect it.
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