Sunday, 17 December 2017

Did The Wildfire Rabbit 'Rescuer' Doom A Litter of Babies?

By Rafi Letzter, Staff Writer | December 7, 2017 02:16pm ET

A video making the rounds online shows a rabbit dashing through a gap in the flames of the huge Thomas fire in California. A man rushes after the animal and stops at the edge of the fire line, anxiously dancing around and trying to coax the critter out of the burning brush. A few moments later, the rabbit bounds back through the same flame gap, and the guy scoops it up, cradling it pinned against his chest.

The dramatic footage has, understandably, gone viral, with some folks online calling the man's actions heroic and some calling them stupid. Most people seem to uncritically accept, however, that this man, in risking his life, saved the rabbit.

But an animal flitting around at the edge of a fire might not need saving at all. In fact, it might have a very good reason for being there.

Most small mammals are good at dealing with fire
In general, wild animals are good at dealing with wildfires, scary events that are still more or less regular features of many ecosystems, according to ecologists. When a wildfire moves through an area, according to a January 2000 report from the U.S. Forest Service, the blaze usually fails to kill very many animals outright.

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