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Report: KY Bugged by Climate Change

PHOTO: A new report from the National Wildlife Federation outlines how climate change is connected to a proliferation of menacing outdoor pests, from poison ivy to ticks. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: A new report from the National Wildlife Federation outlines how climate change is connected to a proliferation of menacing outdoor pests, from poison ivy to ticks. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
September 2, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. - 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 across the nation. Doug Inkley, senior scientist with NWF, emphasizes that hunters, anglers, bird-watchers and hikers have long known they have to cover up and watch for stinging and biting insects but he says the risks are multiplying as seasons arrive earlier and later.

"I'm talking about deer ticks and poison ivy," Inkley says. "These species that are so bothersome to us are actually able to now proliferate because of the changing climate."

The report notes garden-and-crop pests also are growing in numbers, with certain types of stink bugs and other non-natives munching vegetables and other plants.

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

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

In Kentucky, where the invasive kudzu plant often takes over, the Federation's report says the kudzu stink bug, a more recent invasive, may actually help control the vine. However, the report says that's tempered by expectations the warming climate will help kudzu expand as far north as New England.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY