COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KETK) – The Texas A&M Forest Service is asking the community to help them prevent wildfires during hunting season.
From 2016 to 2020, the Texas A&M Forest Service was called to 3,742 wildfires that burned approximately 1.5 million acres.
37% of those fires happened during hunting season from September through January.
“Texas A&M Forest Service wants all hunters to be safe this upcoming season,” said Karen Stafford, Texas A&M Forest Service State Wildfire Prevention Program Leader. “We all have a role to play in protecting our state from wildfires, so remember to do your part and don’t let a wildfire start.”
Drought cured grasses make up most of the western plains, and this can cause dangerous conditions for wildfires.
“Drought or freeze-cured grasses provide a very receptive medium for an accidental wildfire ignition and dead grass will readily ignite under a wide range of weather conditions,” said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head. “An additional factor that will contribute to the difficulty of extinguishing a fire burning in dead grass this year, is that there is a lot of grass on the landscape due to above normal rainfall observed over much of the state during this year’s growing season. Wildfires burning in tall, thick stands of grass will burn hotter, spread faster and require more effort to extinguish.”
Nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by people, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.
65% of these fires that occur during hunting season are caused by debris burning and equipment use, including parking in dry grass and dragging trailer chains.
Officials are hoping hunters will be extra cautious this year when they head outdoors.
Here are some tips to avoid starting a wildfire if you go hunting or camping:
Avoid driving over and parking on dry grass – the heat from your vehicle can easily ignite the grass.
Always check with local officials for burn bans or other outdoor burning restrictions. Each county in Texas sets and lifts their own burn bans.
Make sure you know your county’s burn ban status and if it restricts open flames and other heat-causing activities such as using charcoal.
View the latest burn ban map here.
When using a cooking fire or campfire, never leave it unattended, and always make sure it is completely out by drowning it, stirring it and feeling to ensure that it is out cold before you leave.
If you are taking a trailer out on your adventures, make sure that the tires are properly inflated, chains will not contact the road and that any loose metal will not continually hit anything else, all which can cause sparks.
Always be ready to put out a fire should one start. Have a shovel and water with you in camp and have a fire extinguisher with you at all times.
For more information on preventing wildfires this hunting season, click here.