Prescribed Fire Awareness: How Fire Helps Wildlife and Habitat

Information provided by Region VI Game Management Supervisor Chris Baumann and wildlife biologist Bobby Bond

Region VI Game Management staff conducting prescribed burns on WMA lands in the area.
Region VI Game Management staff conducting prescribed burns on Beaverdam WMA.

Prescribed burning is one of the most efficient practices for land and wildlife management.  Burning promotes many of the beneficial grasses and plants that deer, turkey, quail, songbirds and other wildlife depend upon for both food and cover. It also helps control invasive plant species and reduce fuel in forest lands which helps prevent catastrophic wildfires.

Prescribed burns are conducted on a schedule developed by our wildlife biologists and technicians to ensure we are providing the right types of food and shelter that wildlife need throughout the course of a year.  Many of hunters and wildlife watchers have figured out to look for areas on wildlife management areas that were burned in the previous year, as these sites are very attractive to wildlife since they serve as large natural food plots and great places for viewing wildlife!

A large burn was conducted on Oaky Woods WMA Jan. 23. Seven burn blocks were burned which completed all prescribed burn activities for the year on Oaky Woods. A total of 1,237 acres were burned. The endeavor was completed in a joint cooperation between nearly all of Region IV Game Management personnel, Nathan Klaus’ Nongame Conservation Section burn crew and our Forest Management Unit for operating the helicopter burn machine.

Jeremy Whigham with Forest Management Unit used a GoPro camera borrowed from the UGA bear researchers to wear while operating the helicopter burn machine, while the helicopter was being piloted by Cpt. Steven Turner. You can see the “ping-pong” balls dropping from the machine and igniting the fire on the ground. Luckily, a deer camera survey was also being conducted on Oaky Woods, and trail camera set up on a firebreak captured footage of 4-wheeler activities from the ground. That footage can also be seen in the video. Thanks to wildlife technician Brian Grossman who spliced the videos together.

Game Management associates in Region VI have also been working many long days conducting prescribed burns on several WMAs.  After a frustratingly wet start to the burn season, staff was able to burn a considerable number of acres of pine uplands in the region.  Nearly 900 acres of habitat.were burned among River Bend, Grand Bay, Beaverdam and Bullard Creek WMAs as of Jan. 22, and that figure of acres burned continues to grow.

Special thanks to our professional wildlife biologists and technicians, the backbone of wildlife conservation and management in Georgia.   Wildlife conservation doesn’t exist or work without the foundation of habitat management and population monitoring, which is carried out by these dedicated individuals.

Private individuals interested in implementing prescribed burning for wildlife can contact one of our Game Management offices and ask for assistance with a plan to get them started with one of the most useful tools in wildlife management in the southeastern U.S.:  prescribed burning.

Footage from Prescribed Burn on Oaky Woods WMA

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