Gray, ME – Future generations of America’s wildlife and our outdoor heritage are already being hurt by climate change, with urgent action needed at all levels to avoid catastrophic changes, according to a new National Wildlife Federation report. Wildlife Legacy: Climate Change and the Next Generation of Wildlife gives 15 examples of how climate change poses threats to young wildlife, from moose calves to young “pufflings.”
In conjunction with the report, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) plans to celebrate Mother’s Day with a public event at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine, where families can get up close to Maine’s beloved and iconic species, many of whom will not fare well under intense climate change.
The public and members of the media are invited to attend this free event on Saturday, May 10 – details below.
“Scientific data and, increasingly, our everyday experience show us that climate change is not a far-off threat, but is already affecting Maine,” said Emmie Theberge, Clean Energy Policy Advocate at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Most parents want to leave their children a strong legacy, including a clean environment, rich with wildlife. But the unrelenting march of climate change makes raising young even harder. Maine’s wildlife legacy is at risk.”
The Maine Wildlife Park in Gray is owned and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This self-sustaining facility allows visitors to see and learn about more than 30 species of native Maine wildlife. The Park is adjacent to the Dry Mills Fish Hatchery, which annually raises thousands of brook trout, one of the key Maine species most at risk from a warming climate.
“With Mother’s Day coming this weekend, parenting is becoming increasingly stressful in the world of wildlife,” said Felice Stadler, Senior Director for Climate and Energy at the National Wildlife Federation and herself a mother of two young children. “Climate change is making it harder and harder for many animals to raise their young and keep them well fed and healthy. That threatens not only future generations of wildlife, but the outdoor heritage that our parents and grandparents worked so hard to build.”
“For most of us, it was our parents and grandparents who inspired us to love wildlife and wild places,” said Theberge. “They took us fishing and camping, introduced us to wildlife like moose and deer, and instilled in us a deep appreciation for nature. Today, it is critical that we pass along that deep appreciation to our children and grandchildren who face a changing climate and all of the challenges it presents.”
The report details how the young of many treasured species are at risk because of a changing climate, a situation that will worsen if the nation does not curb carbon pollution:
- Moose: Moose can become heat-stressed in warm weather, especially in summer if temperatures climb above 60 to70 degrees when moose coats are thinner. Summer heat stress leads to lower weights and declining pregnancy rates and increased vulnerability to predators, parasites, and disease.
- Puffins: Puffin populations in the Gulf of Maine are declining as ocean temperatures rise and displace the fish populations that puffins need. Puffins feed their young herring, which is harder and harder to find, leading to dramatic increases in deaths of young “pufflings.”
- Brook Trout: Brook trout and their young – “fingerlings” – need cold, clean water. As rising temperatures warm streams and rob water of oxygen, brook trout eggs face a struggle to survive.
- Snowshoe Hares: The adaptive trait of these hares of turning their coats white in the winter turns into a liability as snow cover decreases, leaving young hares more vulnerable to predators.
The report specifies the key steps needed to stem climate change:
- Reduce carbon pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should exercise its authority under the Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from the largest sources, especially coal-fired power plants. Such a move would build on the leadership of Maine and the Northeast with its Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
- Reduce fossil fuels and reject expansion of dirty fuels. Oil, gas, coal, and tar sands development degrade and fragment habitat, exacerbating climate stressors for wildlife.
- Invest in clean energy development. We must accelerate the transition to cleaner, less-polluting forms of energy, like wind, solar, ocean energy, and sustainable bioenergy—and more energy efficiency measures—to reduce dependence on the carbon pollution that is driving climate change.
“The Obama Administration has committed to cutting the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change,” said Theberge. “The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to act and should limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. We call on Senators Collins and King to actively support this common-sense plan. The status quo is putting many species of wildlife, especially their young, at risk.”
Read the full report here: www.nrcm.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/WildlifeLegacyReportNWF2014.pdf