Canadian News Jul 22, 2021 7:20 PM EST

BC farmers fight to save their 500 ostriches as forest fires approach

Owners of an ostrich farm in BC's Kootenay region are defying orders to evacuate the area, opting instead to stay and care for their 500 birds.

BC farmers fight to save their 500 ostriches as forest fires approach
Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
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Owners of an ostrich farm in BC's Kootenay region are defying orders to evacuate the area, opting instead to stay and care for their 500 birds.

As wildfires ravage parts of BC this summer, many residents are forced to flee their homes, unsure if their properties will still be standing when they return. The town of Lytton, for example, was reduced to rubble after a fire tore through the area.

The province's Kootenay region is typically among the hardest hit, and this year is no different. According to the Castlegar News, the Michaud Creek wildfire is among the worst in the area, and has caused an evacuation order to be put in place from Edgewood and Needles north to Whatshan Lake.

Edgewood is home to Universal Ostrich Farm. Since opening in 1991, the farm has become a popular tourist attraction and renowned producer of ostrich-related products. Now, however, owner and operator Karen Esperson and her partner Trevor Klug are in the fight of their lives to save the birds.

“We have three pumps going. We have fire hose for 1,000 feet, we’ve been wetting the insides of our barns down, we’re wetting every single thing, the birds down every day,” Esperson told Global News.

The 2,670 hectare Michaud Creek wildfire is slowly but steadily approaching, and with each passing hour, the situation is becoming more dire.

Esperson's niece recently started a GoFundMe for the ostrich farm, which has now also taken in animals from neighbors who were unable to care for them. According to the GoFundMe description, Esperson and Klug "have been working around the clock with soaker hoses to protect their property and animals but are in desperate need of feed and hay for the animals, as well as gas for generators, water, and other supplies."

Esperson's niece also note that despite the fact that her aunt lost her home in a fire years ago, she will not evacuate the area if it means leaving her animals behind.

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