The drought that continues to plague Wyoming has left its effect on Wyoming’s landscape this past summer with nearly 500,000 acres burned by wildfires. Hunting season and other fall outdoor activities bring an increase for the potential of human caused fires, and consequential need for fire safety. Hunters are reminded that drought is still impacting most of Wyoming and even though cooler weather is coming, it is extremely important that hunters take appropriate measures to prevent fires by following a few simple precautions:
- Check local fire restrictions before leaving for the outdoors. Most of the counties in Wyoming are still under fire restrictions, as well as many areas in the National Forests. As a reminder, open fires are always prohibited on State Trust Lands. Information on Wyoming fire restrictions can be found here.
- Never leave a campfire unattended. Before going to bed or leaving to scout in the morning, take the time to properly extinguish your campfire. Use plenty of water to extinguish all of the embers. Keep a shovel nearby to stir the contents of your fire pit until it is cold to the touch. If camp is not near a water source, use dirt to extinguish the embers and mix until cool. Simply covering a fire with dirt may allow embers to continue to smolder and spread under windy conditions.
- Ammunition. Consider the type of ammunition and targets you are using. Minimize the risk of fires by not using steel-jacketed ammunition, ammunition with steel-core components, tracer rounds, or exploding targets in fire-prone areas.
- Smoking. When it is time to put out that cigarette, be sure to completely extinguish it by crushing the butt in dirt or sand. If you must smoke, preferably carry a coffee can of sand with you to extinguish and store your used butts. Pay attention to where ashes may drop and only smoke in areas with a minimum of three feet clearance of vegetation.
- Operating ATVs. Using an ATV while hunting can be fun and efficient, however before taking off be sure that your ATV is equipped with a spark arrestor. The devices work by trapping larger hot exhaust particles that have been expelled by internal combustion engines.
- Parking your vehicle. Be careful when parking vehicles off road. Make sure that your vehicle is not parked in tall dry grass or other vegetation. Catalytic converters and hot exhaust systems can easily spark a fire.
- Be prepared. Pack a shovel, a 5-gallon can of water, and a fire extinguisher with the rest of your hunting gear. Being prepared in case of a fire, be it one that you accidentally start or happen to come across. This preparedness may be the difference between 5 square feet and 500 acres of charred land.
- Hunters are asked to do their part by being prepared to avoid the dangers of wildfires and are urged to remain watchful and report any wildfires to authorities.