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Don’t be a bird brain: Keep fire safety in mind during dove season



With much of Texas still hot and dry and wildfires continuing to spark up across the state, dove hunters should be especially careful when heading out this week for the season opener.

Fire activity remains steady throughout much of the state, which means a wildfire could be easily ignited. All it takes is one spark from an unattended campfire, lit cigarette or even the muzzle of a gun.

“As responsible stewards of the land, hunters need to take wildfire conditions into consideration — especially when they’re elevated as they are now,” said Justice Jones, coordinator for the Wildland Urban Interface and Fire Prevention programs. “In doing so, they’re protecting the resources and wildlife they strive to conserve.”

Though dove season kicks off Sept. 1, 2010, hunters aren’t the only people who should take precautions. All outdoorsmen should keep fire safety in mind for the next several weeks while conditions — hot temperatures and dry vegetation — remain ripe for wildfires.

Considered normal for this time of year, the current, steady fire activity is expected to continue until mid September, when the fall transition brings shorter days and cooler temperatures, which make conditions less ideal for wildfires.

For the most part, recent fires haven’t grown exceptionally large or exceeded the capabilities of local responders. But, Predictive Services Department Head Tom Spencer warned, that doesn’t mean they’re not a problem.

Fires ignited accidentally by people remain a primary concern for wildland firefighters, he said

If you’re heading outside, keep in mind the following wildfire safety tips:

  • Obey outdoor burning bans. Don’t build a fire during dry or windy conditions.
  • If conditions are right and there is no burn ban in place, you may build a campfire. But keep the fire small and never leave it unattended.
  • Make sure the fire is extinguished and cold to the touch before you leave it.
  • Avoid burning feed bags.
  • Keep water handy when welding on stands.
  • Drive only on designated trails. Don’t park or idle vehicles in tall, dry grass, which can be ignited by contact with a hot muffler.
  • When shooting close to the ground, be sure there is no dry grass or tinder in front of your muzzle. Though rare, it’s not impossible for a shot to ignite nearby tinder.
  • Use caution with cigarettes and matches.
  • Use spark arresters on all power equipment.
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