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Longer California Wildfire Season Poses New Threat To State's Wildlife

AUBURN (CBS13) — Wildfire season appears to be year-round now in California, and that is posing a relatively new threat to the wildlife who call the state's forests and brush home.

One method of wildfire prevention is proving to be harmful to these animals.

"We took in 3,700 animals all of last year, we are already over 4,700 animals this year," said Sallysue Stein, founder and acting executive director of the Gold Country Wildlife Rescue.

Gold Country Wildlife Rescue has already taken in more than 1,000 animals this year compared to last year, due mainly to wildfire-prevention work like tree cutting.

"Because of all the tree trimming that's going on by PG&E and homeowners who are being forced by their insurances to clear brush and clear trees," Stein said.

She says, typically, tree cutting would be done in the winter months when there are no babies, but it's year-round now.

"Every one of those trees that comes down is full of babies during baby season," she said.

Stein added, "We actually capture the animals sedated, and work on it for a couple hours, cleaning its wounds, giving it medication. Sometimes when they are very critically ill, we are giving them IV fluids, whatever they need."

Additionally, the non-profit animal rescue is currently caring for eight burn victims from this year's wildfires.

"It's been so busy. We do have two raccoons that we just got recently from Antioch from a brush fire, and of course, we have the three bear cubs who are everyone's favorite it seems on our social media," Stein said. "They all came in with acute burns, and now a lot of them are moved into outdoor cages. The bear cubs for instance we need to keep until next spring until they are ready to be released.

Adding fuel to the fire, space at their Auburn facility is running low and their team of volunteers is stretched thin.

"This year, because of the increase in the number of animals, we did have to increase staffing, so very costly, but you know, that's what we do. We're here. We're passionate about it, keep raising the funds to make it happen," Stein said.

Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is hoping to add an enclosure big enough to house up to six bear cubs to keep through the winter. The cost of the bear enclosure is $200,000. They will be starting a GoFundMe later this week to help raise those funds.

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