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an open green field with two cows eating grass with a raging wildfire in the background

Wildfires Impact Our Animals Too

Ranchers and agricultural societies are working together to evacuate and shelter animals amidst the fires

We are at war with wildfires, which have displaced thousands of Albertans. However, these blazes don’t just affect us; they also impact critters of all types.

Ranchers have been scrambling to move their livestock out of harm’s way as wildfires rage. This included Samantha Callioux, the co-owner of Go Hard Ranch.

“I have relocated animals a couple of times, and we’ve been up all night. I’ve slept maybe an hour. But as long as we can do something to at least try and save the area,” Callioux told Global News.

The Go Hard Ranch is located by Yellowhead Highway, just outside of the hamlet of Wildwood. On Thursday, the hamlet was on high alert after an evacuation order was issued for the nearby Entwistle community.

Callioux claims the quick thinking of neighbours stopped the fire from spreading.

Firefighters from Quebec and Ontario arriving in Alberta | Alberta Wildfire

These brave residents allegedly used farm equipment like tractors, hoses, and water trucks to stop the blaze before it could cross Range Road 92 and Township Road 544 in Wildwood.

All the while, ranchers were tending to 650 heads of cattle, many of which were calving.

“We are not leaving because we are stubborn. We are not leaving because there is no one else fighting the fire right now,” continued Callioux.

To help evacuees resettle their animals, the Yellowhead Agricultural Society (YAS) has opened its doors. The society is providing shelter for dozens of cattle and horses.

In addition to YAS, many other agricultural societies are helping people evacuate their livestock. This includes the Cochrane, Athabasca District, and Alder Flats agricultural societies, to name just a few.

While these societies may have the space, they don’t always have the resources.

“We have space, we just need feed…The concern is like people are losing their places, they’re also losing their feed for their animals,” Michaela Shrode, a director for YAS.

Rural communities like Wildwood are often left to fend for themselves as support gets pulled to other areas.

“You need to put the resources where there are the most people in danger, but when that happens in rural areas like ourselves, we feel like we’re kind of left on our own,” Yellowhead resident Bill Stone told Global News.

Callioux has set up an account with the United Farmers of Alberta to allow residents to continue fighting the fires themselves, where people can contribute toward costs.

Danielle Smith’s government claims additional support, including 200 other firefighters over the next few days, is coming.

But for rural communities that have weathered the storm alone, the help comes too late.

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