YELLOWKNIFE, NT, August 16, 2023 – An out-of-control wildfire threatening Yellowknife, NT and surrounding communities has prompted a territory-wide state of emergency. Residents have been ordered to evacuate Yellowknife as soon as possible, and the urgency of the situation is palpable. This evacuation order is the latest in a what has become the second-worst wildfire season in recorded history for the territory; currently, nearly one quarter of the Northwest Territories is burning.
The territory's capital city of 20,000 people is facing a wildfire that is only 10 miles (16 km) away. Other communities are also gravely impacted, with the town of Enterprise 90% destroyed, Hay River nearing its evacuation deadline, and five other communities being told to evacuate.
These evacuation orders are leaving animal shelters scrambling as shelter operators, and boarding facilities, search for ways to evacuate animals currently in their care.
“It's chaotic here, but we are doing everything we can, including having crates brought up from down south," said Dr. Michelle Tuma, Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières' (VWB/VSF) Northern Canada Veterinary Specialist, who is also based in Yellowknife. "Every crate in town was bought out, and you can't get your pet on evacuation flights without one," Tuma added.
More than two million hectares have already burned this summer in the Northwest Territories, with 236 active wildfires currently reported. The situation has been exacerbated by the extreme heat, including the hottest day ever recorded in the far north.
Residents are being urged to heed the evacuation orders, follow all instructions from local authorities, and support one another in these trying times.
Currently, VWB/VSF and NWT SPCA are working together to procure crates, food, and other supplies for evacuees. To help with these efforts, please visit vetswithoutborders.ca
Get more info on evacuations here https://www.gov.nt.ca/en/newsroom/nwt-emergency-response-update-august-15-2023-805-pm
For further information and ways to support this vital effort, please visit vetswithoutborders.ca or contact:
C: +1 343-633-0272, x 114
About Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières
Using a One Health approach, Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB) works for, and with, communities in need to foster the health of animals, people and the environments that sustain us. VWB works in Africa and Asia to improve the living conditions of the most disadvantaged rural populations through veterinary and agricultural services, sustainable animal production, training, value chain development and sustainable natural resource management. Additionally, we support remote Northern Canadian communities to improve animal health through temporary spay and neuter clinics, reduce the spread of rabies, and work to create the conditions for long-term, community-led sustainable animal health services. VWB/VSF also responds to crises, worldwide, and is currently providing emergency support in Ukraine, Pakistan, South Sudan, and Turkey to address the growing needs of animals and communities.
Learn more at vetswithoutborders.ca