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Tue March 11, 2008
Brush clearing good for forests, bad for bunnies
By Elsa Partan
Bridger Teton National Forest, WY – Fire risk managers often want to clear out dead trees and brush to reduce the chance of a wildfire. But one wildlife expert says that dense under-story is just the kind of habitat needed by one important animal: the snowshoe hare.
Among small mammals, the snowshoe hare is especially important because it's the main food source for the Canada Lynx, a threatened species. More snowshoe hares could mean better survival for the lynx.
Bridger Teton National Forest researcher Nate Berg says the hares' habitat is in conflict with the latest in wildfire prevention: "Basically," he says, "we found that snowshoe hares loves ladder fuels, they love the large woody debris, they love areas that fire people in particular want to clean out because they are a high risk to burning."
Berg says he understands that fire managers must reduce the fuel for fire in certain forests. He just wants them to leave other areas cluttered, to help the hares.