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Report: Big Game Facing Big Risks from Climate Change

PHOTO: "Nowhere to Run: Big Game WIldlife in a Warming World" details the impact of climate change on Michigan's moose population as well as other wildlife. Photo courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation.
PHOTO: "Nowhere to Run: Big Game WIldlife in a Warming World" details the impact of climate change on Michigan's moose population as well as other wildlife. Photo courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation.
November 14, 2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - While many Michiganders have enjoyed the milder winters of recent years, some environmental experts say the effects of climate change could put the future of the state's treasured big-game wildlife at risk. According to Frank Szollosi, Great Lakes Outreach Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, rising temperatures, deeper droughts and other extreme weather events have taken a toll on the state's elk, moose and white-tailed deer.

He warned that if nothing is done, much of the hard work of the past century to save these animals and their habitats could be undone.

"The past 75 years has seen hundreds of millions of dollars and leadership by hunters and conservationists to protect and restore many of these species," he said. "These wildlife restoration accomplishments are at risk. "

A report on the situation, which is available at NWF.org, offers suggestions for turning things around, including reducing carbon pollution, speeding up the transition to more renewable sources of energy and promoting climate-smart approaches to conservation.

Szollosi said if climate-related developments are left unchecked, the effect on big game will also mean consequences for humans.

"Lyme disease is going to become a much greater threat than has previously, to not just household pets, but also to children and other folks who spend time outdoors," he said.

It's estimated that big- and small-game hunting bring more than $2 billion into Michigan's economy each year, money that also could be at risk if nothing is done, according to the report.

The report is at NWF.org.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI