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Report Claims Pests Proliferate Due to Climate Change

PHOTO: A new report from the National Wildlife Federation outlines how climate change is connected to a proliferation of menacing outdoor pests, such as the Asian tiger mosquito which is found in Arkansas. Photo credit: CDC/James Gathany
PHOTO: A new report from the National Wildlife Federation outlines how climate change is connected to a proliferation of menacing outdoor pests, such as the Asian tiger mosquito which is found in Arkansas. Photo credit: CDC/James Gathany
August 20, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Climate change is connected to all kinds of creepy-crawly critters, with a new National Wildlife Federation report detailing how those changes are affecting the outdoor experience in Arkansas.

Hunters, anglers, bird-watchers and hikers have long known they have to cover up and watch for stinging and biting insects, said Doug Inkley, a senior scientist for the federation, but the risks are multiplying as seasons arrive earlier and later.

"Tiger mosquitoes are moving north," he said. "and they're an invasive species and they bite during the daytime, unlike most of our other mosquito species that are native to here."

The report noted that Asian tiger mosquitoes can transmit 30 different viruses and are the main source of heartworm in dogs.

The report called for approval of proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. Inkley added that humans aren't the only ones trying to fend off pests and other complications of climate change.

"There are ways that we can help wildlife be more resistant or adaptive to climate change," he said. "For example, we can protect corridors of habitat, so that as habitats are shifting, the animals can move as well."

Fire ants also are featured in the report as a pest expanding its territory to the north in Arkansas.

The report, "Ticked Off: America's Outdoor Experience and Climate Change," is online at nwf.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR