Animals displaced as McBride Fire rages

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RUIDOSO, N.M. — A lot of wildlife in the Ruidoso area have lost their lives and homes to the McBride Fire. Flames and heavy smoke in the forest are pushing animals into new areas, including the village.

Officials said that residents are seeing even more animals than they’re used to.

"Those animals are smart, and they get out of the way of the fire and so they’re being displaced, and some of them are coming down into the village," said Laura Rabon, public information officer for the McBride and Nogal Canyon fires. "So we’ve been seeing an increase in all sorts of wildlife, including elk, deer, smaller animals as well, as they try to escape the fire."

KOB 4 crews spotted a herd of elk and deer crossing a busy street in Ruidoso.

"Our message to anybody who’s seeing animals is that we want to keep wildlife wild," Rabon said. "These are not tame animals. They are not livestock, they’re not pets. They’re not used to being around people, so we’re really recommending, please, keep your distance from them."

Officials said it’s not just wildlife that residents should watch out for.

"A sad, unfortunate reality is that people were also just releasing their animals to give them the best chance of survival when this first started," Rabon said. "And so we are seeing an increase in stray animals like cats and dogs out there as well, as well as livestock that was just released."

The Chaves, Otero and Lincoln County fairgrounds – as well as the Ruidoso and Roswell animal shelters – are taking in pets and livestock.

Officials said if you do happen to see animals roaming, do not approach them.

"These animals have obviously been through a lot, as has this community, and we don’t want anybody to be hurt trying to approach or touch these animals in any way," Rabon said.