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The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Target Shooting Popular, But Also Huge Wildfire Risk

Target shooting is a popular activity on public lands across our region. It's also the second leading human cause of wildfires.

Wildfires are burning across our region right now including blazes in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. In Idaho, three grass fires were sparked by target shooting. Sarah Wheeler with the Idaho Bureau of Land Management said a lot of factors go into a wildfire caused by target shooting. To begin with, cheatgrass and other dry fuel on the ground are a big risk.

"Different bullets have different abilities to cause fires," said Wheeler.

When a bullet hits a rock or a metal target, it can break into hot metal shards that land on the ground and quickly ignite a fire. Wheeler also said hot summer days don’t provide the best conditions for target practice.

"[If it's] 80, 90, 100 degrees and you have 35 mile an hour winds—which is not uncommon in Wyoming and Idaho, the wind blows all the time—then it might not be the best time to go shooting," said Wheeler.  

If you are going to go out target shooting, Wheeler said to bring a shovel, water and a fire extinguisher with you. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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