Happy Birthday Smokey Bear! American's popular icon just turned 75. His message for the prevention of wildfires has been part of our lives since 1944. What began with an illustrated character pouring water on a campfire is now the longest-running public service campaign in American history.
Smokey’s message is still important today. Nearly nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans, with many from campfires, barbecue coals, burning debris on windy days, and sparks from equipment and vehicles. Wildfires are different from prescribed fires, which are planned and tended by professionals to help habitats.
Along with Smokey, MDC has been fighting wildfires and spreading the prevention word across Missouri. Today, there's help from a growing number of rural fire departments around the state, many staffed by volunteers. MDC helps local fire departments with tools, training, and equipment. Some fires are fought side by side with MDC staff and volunteer firefighters.
Although wildfires can occur year-round in the state, fall and early spring pose a higher fire danger due to dryer conditions and dead grass, leaves, and other fuels. The main cause of wildlife in Missouri is the improper burning of debris, such as trash and brush piles. Find more prevention tips.
Smokey still needs our help, noted in his signature phrase, “Only you can prevent wildfires,” voiced by actor Sam Elliott, who shares a 75th birthday with Smokey.
In addition to helping prevent wildfires for the past 75 years, Smokey Bear is a legend in American history.
For more on Smokey Bear, visit his website.