Campaigners are concerned that wildfires could ‘devastate local wildlife’, following the most recent blaze in a series of fires that have hit UK nature reserves.
On Monday of this week, a 120-acre gorse fire tore through Caer Bran nature reserve in Cornwall. On Wednesday, another blaze set Bovey Heathfield nature reserve in South Devon alight. Several reserves and heathlands have been hit, with many of the fires believed to have been started intentionally.
A three-mile wide fire that broke out on a moor near Bodmin, Cornwall, on 11 February is being treated as arson by firefighters, as well as a nature reserve fire in Cornwall on 9 February and a large blaze on Dartmoor on 5 April.During the latter, nearby resident Mr Cavell described seeing hordes of wildlife, including several bird species, voles and a short-eared owl, ‘fleeing in terror’.
Four gorse fires broke out in Cornwall over the 6th March weekend, two of which are thought to have been started deliberately.
Members of Devon Wildlife Trust have expressed their fears for the safety of breeding animals as lockdown rules are relaxed.
‘At this time of year, birds are nesting, reptiles and insects are emerging and wildflowers are beginning to bloom,’ said Steve Hussey from the trust.
According to Mr Hussey, ‘The timing really couldn’t be any worse.’
The trust said that people had been having barbecues and open fires at another reserve, Meeth Quarry in north Devon.
‘A very dry spring means that our countryside is extremely vulnerable to fire’, explained Mr Hussey.
‘All it needs is a discarded cigarette, a barbecue or spark from a fire pit and a large wildlife could ignite. The results of this can be devastating, not only for local communities, but for wildlife too.’
The trust is also urging people to consider wildlife which have been disturbed by unrestrained dogs and motorcyclists.