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Ohio Mascots Face Off Against Climate Change

A National Wildlife Federation report highlights the threat of climate change to Ohio's hockey tradition. Credit: Joel Washing/Wikimedia
A National Wildlife Federation report highlights the threat of climate change to Ohio's hockey tradition. Credit: Joel Washing/Wikimedia
October 16, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Mascots bring light-hearted fun to sporting events, but a new report highlights how the inspirations behind some favorite hockey team names are facing the serious problem of climate change.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the Toledo Walleye and the Bowling Green Falcons are among mascots that reflect wildlife impacted by warming temperatures. As a Toledo resident, Frank Szollosi, regional campaign manager for the federation, said he's troubled by the threat to Lake Erie walleye and other beloved species.

"Warming waters are disrupting their reproductive habits, also allowing invasive species to flourish putting further stress on the walleye," he said. "We're seeing many falcon chicks drowning as a result of inundation from extreme weather."

The Toledo Walleye play the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday, and while cyclones are not an animal, Szollosi said they do represent extreme weather events spurred by changes in climate. To turn the tide, the report suggested policies to reduce carbon pollution, including the Clean Power Plan, as well as investments in the development of solar power and wind energy.

Besides mascots, the report pointed to the climate threat to Ohio's hockey tradition. Doug Inkley, the federation's senior scientist, explained that ice is becoming less prevalent in the entire Northern Hemisphere, with ponds freezing later and melting earlier. He grew up in Cleveland's Snow Belt and said he can see the difference.

"I can well remember the heavy snows and the ice covering Lake Erie," he said. "Nowadays, Lake Erie isn't freezing as much. This has implications in terms of changing the hockey availability of ice on ponds and maybe even a little bit on Lake Erie, but it also affects ice fishing."

Last year, the National Hockey League released a sustainability report acknowledging the importance of cold temperatures and fresh water to make ice to preserve hockey events, and calling for action to combat climate change.

The report is online at nwf.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH