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March Madness Links to Climate Change?

PHOTO: A new National Wildlife Federation report details how wildlife mascots are being affected by climate change, including the Virginian Commonwealth University ram. Photo credit: National Park Service
PHOTO: A new National Wildlife Federation report details how wildlife mascots are being affected by climate change, including the Virginian Commonwealth University ram. Photo credit: National Park Service
March 12, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. - March Madness has a conservation group trying to better the betting odds for teams with wildlife mascots. A new report from the National Wildlife Federation details how wildlife mascots are being affected by climate change.

According to the report, sea-level rise, extreme droughts and storms, warming temperatures, and the timing of snowpack melting can all change habitats.

National Wildlife Federation senior scientist Dr. Doug Inkley, a lead author of the "Mascot Madness" report, said the Virginia Commonwealth University mascot, the ram, is a prime example of a species facing challenges.

"It could be 'game over' for many of the wildlife mascots," he said, "unless we reduce our carbon pollution that's causing climate change, and unless we develop new clean energy sources."

Tigers, lions, alligators, bears, wolverines and falcons also are featured in the report.

Inkley said while they had some fun putting the research together and talking about basketball, it's a serious topic.

"It is a big opponent, a big challenge, this climate change," he said. "We need to reduce our carbon emissions and we need to develop clean energy sources: wind power, solar power."

NWF is hoping to connect with the millions of people who tune in to watch playoff basketball games, especially those who do so at work.

The online company "Retail Me Not" released a survey showing almost three in 10 people plan to watch March Madness games at their place of employment.

Read the report on "Mascot Madness" from the National Wildlife Federation/a>.

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