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Texas reminds hunters to keep fire safety in mind

From Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

-- Most hunters and outdoor enthusiasts consider a blazing campfire the soul of camping, but with burn bans posted in all but four Texas counties this fall, Texans are going to have to do without unless the state gets a lot of rain.

With much of Texas severely affected by the ongoing drought and with wildfires continuing to ignite across the state, hunters and campers need to be especially careful this fall.

Fire activity remains steady, and wildfires can easily ignite. 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 Texas Forest Service's Wildland Urban Interface and Fire Prevention programs. "In doing so, they're protecting the resources and wildlife they strive to conserve."

Hunters aren't the only people who should take precautions. Anyone enjoying the outdoors should keep fire safety in mind for as long as extraordinarily dry conditions persist.

Texas Parks and Wildlife passes on these 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 and other materials that can create flying embers.

* Keep water handy when welding on stands or working around hunting camps.

* 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.

For more information on fire safety and other hunter education materials, visit  the Texas Hunter Education site at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/hunter_education/.

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