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Report: Climate Change Connected to More Blood-suckers

PHOTO: A new National Wildlife Federation report outlines how climate change is connected to a proliferation of outdoor pests, from poison ivy to ticks. Photo of a deer tick reaction associated with lyme disease courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PHOTO: A new National Wildlife Federation report outlines how climate change is connected to a proliferation of outdoor pests, from poison ivy to ticks. Photo of a deer tick reaction associated with lyme disease courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
August 20, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Climate change is connected to all kinds of creepy-crawly critters, with a new National Wildlife Federation report detailing some of those changes.

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.

"Our outdoor experience is changing because of climate change," he said, "and it's not just the temperatures, it's the pests that bother us."

Deer ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease, have expanded their territory to most areas of the nation, including Wyoming. The report also pointed to research showing that poison ivy has become more loaded with toxins as carbon levels increase.

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."

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 - WY