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Climate Change

In the face of climate change we must work with our Canadian friends, not depend on them, to ensure animals have a future.

Ice crystals on Hall Mountain in northeast Washington. Photo by Aaron TheisenIn the coming decade, as US population growth climate change continue, many species may find it necessary to move northward again as climate change related habitat influences, like fire and disease, become more pronounced. Some snow-dependent animals including wolverine, lynx, and caribou may find that they need larger home ranges.

The wolverine is likely at risk from changes in the climate. Similar to polar bears, wolverines depend on areas that maintain deep snow from February through early May where they dig their dens to birth and raise their young.  Snowpack in the western mountains is in decline due to climate change

Bears have been going into hibernation later and emerging earlier, apparently corresponding with warmer fall and spring temperatures. For bears, less snooze time means they need more food.  The need for more food increases potential conflicts with humans. Since many plants and animals are ecologically connected to bears, one can hypothesize that if the grizzlies are changing their behavior as a result of climate change then so are countless other organisms.

Photo by Brian CurrieFurthermore, annual bird counts show major, northward shifts in range among numerous species. Ecosystems, including lodgepole pine forests of British Columbia and juniper savannas of the American Southwest, have been savaged by native beetles whose populations exploded in response to environmental change. Studies across the globe show wildfires soaring in size and frequency. 

Healthy and connected ecosystems and their wildlife are better able to withstand climate change. How can we help wildlife adapt to climate change while also devising habitat conservation strategies to mitigate climate change? What types of land use practices can simultaneously give wildlife more freedom to roam while boosting carbon storage capacity, e.g., conserving old-growth forests?

In the face of climate change we must work with our Canadian friends, not depend on them, to answer these questions and ensure these animals have a future.

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