Publication Date June 21, 2016

Emu Flees Raging Wildfire in Southern California

United States
An emu escapes a wildfire near Potrero, California, on Monday. In wildfire-prone areas, different animals have different responses to fire. Photo: Mike Blake, Reuters

[A]s drought and climate change exacerbate wildfires in Southern California, emus are among countless animals that must flee the flames...

Birds often fly away from wildfires (unless they’re flightless—sorry, emus), while larger mammals run. Smaller critters might burrow into the ground, hide out in logs, or take cover under rocks. Predators have also been observed chasing after and eating prey as the animals try to get away from the flames.

Once the fire is put out, animals may find that their ecosystems have changed, but the results aren’t always devastating.

“People look at burned areas and think they're dead. They’re not dead. They’ve just changed,” said Patricia Kennedy, a wildlife biologist at Oregon State University, in a previous interview. “It's a whole new habitat"