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MT Tribes Talk Turkey...and Duck, Dove and Finch

March 11, 2008

Polson, MT – Birds carry strong spiritual messages for many Native Americans, and this week the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes are learning that birds also bear an ecological message. The tribes are hosting a meeting to discuss how climate change affects Montana's birds.

Wildlife biologist Amy Cilimburg, assistant director of the Avian Science Center at the University of Montana, says larger birds that are dependent on water, such as ducks and geese, already are having a tough time adapting to changes.

"The biggest concerns are higher temperatures and drought affecting wetlands areas, especially the Prairie Pothole Region, the 'duck factory of the United States'"

Cilimburg says 50 percent of the ducks in this country either breed in the Prairie Pothole Region or pass through it. The region covers large areas of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Cilimburg adds that the way climate change affects wetlands has been well-documented in other areas of the country.

"Although we still have a lot of our wetlands left, if you look farther east, their wetlands may be bigger but they don't have as many of them left."

Cilimburg speaks Wednesday in the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes Natural Resources Conference Room, 316 First Street East, Polson.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MT