New Report: Climate Change Hurting Next Generation of Wildlife

   05.22.14

With Mother’s Day recently celebrated and Father’s Day coming up, parenting is tough – not only for human parents, but for wildlife raising their young. That’s according to the new National Wildlife Federation report Wildlife Legacy: Climate Change and the Next Generation of Wildlife. An unusual group of North Carolina organizations including groups representing sportsmen, faith, and families came together to discuss the report Wednesday at the Charlotte Nature Museum.

“Hunters, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts are out in the field.  We are witnessing with our own eyes changes in wildlife habitats that threaten the places we hunt, fish, and observe wildlife” said Tim Gestwicki, CEO North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “We applaud efforts to cut climate change-causing carbon pollution and provide resources to adapt wildlife resources to climate change. We should do this not only for the future of wildlife but for our children’s outdoor heritage.”

The groups came together to discuss their concerns about how climate change threatens not only future generations of North Carolina wildlife species and the health of our children, but the outdoor heritage that today’s parents and grandparents worked so hard to build.

“We’ve reached a point in time in which it’s now alarmingly clear that the quality of the air we all breathe, animals and humans alike, is directly tied to the disruption of our climate.” said June Blotnick, Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina. “Cutting carbon from power plants will result in cleaner, healthier air and a more stable climate for our children, grandchildren and North Carolina’s wildlife.”

The report details how the young of many of North Carolina’s treasured species are at risk because of a changing climate, a situation that will worsen if the nation does not curb carbon pollution:

  • Fish: 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.  Warmer water temperatures also put smallmouth bass at risk because fertilized eggs may not get enough dissolved oxygen.
  • Sea Turtles and Hatchlings:  If turtle eggs are incubated at 88 degrees Fahrenheit or above, hatchlings are more likely to be female. Warmer temperatures could create a gender imbalance among turtle hatchlings.  Sea level rise is flooding coastal areas and could cause a 49 to 80 percent decline in central Atlantic Coast beaches, critical sea turtle nesting habitat.
  • Ducks and Ducklings:  Ducks are a favorite species for sportsmen, and for kids and families watching wildlife. . Drought conditions brought on by climate change are expected to dry up many of the shallow ponds in the Prairie Pothole Region where many ducks that come through North Carolina are hatched.
  • The American Alligator: Alligators and their hatchlings are feeling the impacts of climate change in a variety of ways. Sea level rise is threatening nests built close to the shore-eggs can die in just 2 hours if they are submerged in water.

“As the adults in charge, it is our moral duty to choose a future of clean, renewable energy now, before we pass a climate change tipping point that will radically change our children’s potential to thrive going forward. Said, Dr. Kathy Shea, a pediatrician, mother, and former director of Interfaith Power and Light. “As with wildlife babies, human children should be able to interact with nature safely in ways that foster true health, wellness and joy.  The living Earth is a gift to cherish and protect, just as our children are gifts.”

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