PHOENIX — After months of rehabilitation following the historic Wallow Fire, a young red-tailed hawk returned to Arizona’s skies today when it was released by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and its Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear.
The months-old nestling was found on the fringes of an area burned by the historic Wallow Fire after it was prematurely flushed from its nest by the fire.
The bird was initially treated in June for dehydration and malnourishment at Game and Fish’s Emergency Wildlife Treatment Center that was established in Eagar to help wildlife affected by the fire. Once the young female was stabilized, it came to the department’s wildlife center in Phoenix and has spent the last few months being rehabilitated. Now after learning how to survive and hunt prey from red-tailed hawk foster parents, rehabilitators released the hawk at a time when many birds, including other red-tailed hawks, from northern parts of the state are descending to the Valley’s lower elevations for the winter.
Contrary to popular belief, wildlife are adapted to coping with wildfires. Scientific studies and observations by wildlife biologists indicate that adult wildlife do not panic and flee from wildfire, but instead move away from the smoke, tending to circle around the actively burning areas. However, some wildlife is more prone to being impacted by wildfire, including young that have been born that year and small animals and birds.
Supported by the Heritage Fund, a voter-passed initiative that provides for wildlife conservation using Arizona lottery dollars, the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center cares for more than 1,000 sick and injured native wildlife every year. The center and a critical volunteer group also provide wildlife education to local schools and outreach to community groups. The center will be holding a free open house on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, 2011.