Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Severe Fire Risk for Somerset's Wildlife After Hottest April on Record

 4th May 2011

slow worm © Bob Hastie Somerset Wildlife Trust is warning of a severe fire risk to wildlife following the hottest April on record.

The county’s leading environmental charity is urging all visitors to its nature reserves to take great care not to do anything to risk causing fires during the prolonged dry weather.

Somerset Wildlife Trust owns or manages 75 nature reserves across the county providing a safe home for some of our rarest and most threatened species.

Dr Christopher Hancock, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Reserves Co-ordinator, warned: ”People and wildlife are equally at risk especially when strong winds can spread fire very quickly. While there has been some rain in the south of the county, it is still not enough to prevent fire risk, and the north has remained dry so please continue to take great care.”

Wildlife is particularly vulnerable during the spring as many birds are nesting in scrub and long grass which is still dead, dry, and highly flammable following the winter. Lizards, slow worms, frogs and toads remain sluggish after cool nights and are unable to escape a rapidly spreading fire.

Dr Hancock added: “Apart from the obvious risk of dropped lighted matches or cigarettes, sun shining through discarded bottles can cause fire due to the lens effect of curved glass. Discarded bottles can also trap and kill small mammals so please take all litter home and recycle it or dispose of it appropriately.”

Slow worm © Bob Hastie