Unseasonably warm temperatures and a dry spring have created conditions to spark fires
With Alberta on track for a record-setting year of wildfires, the Alberta Fish and Game Association is hoping the provincial government will commit the resources needed to restore lost habitat and protect wildlife. As of early June, 62 out of 545 wildfires so far this year were still burning.
“It’s not just one area of the province that’s being impacted,” says AFGA CEO Kelly Carter. “It’s spread across the entire forested area from the west to the north, to the northwest. That’s a vast area, which makes it very difficult to control, respond, address and manage.”
This year’s wildfire season was exacerbated by unseasonably warm temperatures and very little rain early in the spring. That created just the right conditions for sparking wildfires, Carter says. The situation was so bad in mid-May, the province issued a plea to public servants, asking anyone with firefighting experience to help battle the fires.
As of the beginning of June, nearly 740,000 hectares had already burned. That’s quickly approaching the 883,411 hectares that burned in 2019, which included the massive Fort McMurray wildfires. The five-year average between 2017 and 2022 has otherwise been 200,000 hectares.
“We’ve had members directly impacted through an evacuation order, or they’ve had property burned,” Carter says. While none of the AFGA’s Wildlife Trust Fund or club properties have yet been impacted, the AFGA is monitoring the situation closely, he says.
As the frequency and severity of wildfires increase in Alberta, due in part to the effects of climate change, Carter says the provincial government needs to support the people affected, as well as wildlife and habitat “Government is matching donations to the Red Cross, which is a fantastic thing to help support those who are in need,” he says. “But it would be amazing if we would also see that same level of support, and government donations being matched, for our Wildlife Trust Fund.”
Learn more about the AFGA’s programs and positions at www.afga.org.