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Report: Wolverines, Other "Big Game" Team Mascots At Risk

PHOTO: How the University of Michigan Wolverines will fare in the March Madness tournament remains to be seen, but a new report cries foul for real wolverines due to climate change. Photo credit: morguefile.com
PHOTO: How the University of Michigan Wolverines will fare in the March Madness tournament remains to be seen, but a new report cries foul for real wolverines due to climate change. Photo credit: morguefile.com
March 13, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – March Madness is almost here and as sports teams and mascots begin to dominate headlines and brackets, a new report from the National Wildlife Federation finds that many of the species that inspired their names are at risk due to climate change.

Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the NWF, says the very symbol of the University of Michigan is a prime example.

"Look at the wolverines,” he points out. “They are very much dependent on cold winter heavy, deep snows and they are being pushed out of the United States in the Rocky Mountains because of the warming climate."

Inkley says it's not too late in the game to turn things around, but doing so will require a new strategy focused on more renewable sources of energy.

He adds that climate change isn't just impacting animals, but also some of the legendary plants that have inspired team names.

For instance, he says the Ohio state tree – the buckeye – is actually being pushed north into enemy territory here in Michigan as a result of drought, storms and heat.

But, he says there is a solution.

"It is a big opponent,” he says. “It is a big challenge, this climate change. And what we need to do about it is we need to reduce our carbon emissions and we need to develop clean energy sources: wind power, solar power."

While Michigan has been enduring a harsh winter, Inkley says it is important to remember that 2013 was the fourth warmest year on record globally, and that all of the warmest years have occurred since 1998.




Reach Inkley at 202-797-6855. Report is at http://bit.ly/1g6blTx

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI