Concern over rising monkey deaths in road accidents

https://www.covaipost.com/coimbatore/concern-over-rising-monkeys-deaths-in-road-accidents/

by Renald A. Frank

Image credit : Illustrative Image

Coimbatore: The alarming rise in the number of animals, especially monkeys, getting killed in road accidents is cause for concern, say animal welfare activists.

Monkeys get killed since they stray into roads in search of food and this was easily being made available by tourists. Right from the time they are infants, monkeys get used to being fed by tourists. This made them completely dependent on human beings since they never learnt to be self-sustained in forests. This made them come onto roads and get hit by speeding vehicles. Poor visibility added to such accidents.

Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, feeding of monkeys is prohibited and can lead to a jail term extending up to three years. In spite of this, forest officials turn a blind eye to feeding of animals.

Madhur Ganesh, founder of Human Animal Society, says, “Monkeys which were created to eat plants, raw vegetables or other sources of food available inside the forests now prefer food like corn, biryani, chips and pakodas which is not good for their health. Monkeys eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables but when human beings feed them, they forget their skill of hunting.”
A research by Ashmita Sengupta from NIAS, Bengaluru says, “Monkeys have reduced intake of fruits from trees due to feeding by human beings. Monkeys are an important seed dispenser for many fruit varieties in forests”. Owing to feeding of monkeys by human beings, we are actually causing stress and disease to these mammals which also results in behavioural changes.”

Sirajuddin, co-ordinator of Wildlife Nature Conservation Trust in Coimbatore says the speed of vehicles should be fixed between 25-30 km/hr in areas close to the forest. This was to prevent animals from getting injured.

An event to promote this would take place in Coimbatore on March 3 where efforts would be made to educate people on wildlife conservation. Pamphlets would also be distributed, he added.

Though the number of animals killed in road accidents could notbe ascertained, efforts were being made by Wildlife Trust of India located in NCR region at Noida to protect animals where “we would also be able to send incidents related to animals getting hit on roads along with the exact location by downloading a form online”, he said. Monkeys which got close to humans could easily be captured or killed.

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Can wildlife survive the Wall?

Some timely info about the Border Wall’s impact on wildlife from Defenders.org:

Donate Now

 

Trump’s wall would seal off critical migration corridors and slice through essential habitat – fragmenting populations and isolating animals from each other and from resources that are critically important to their survival. In addition,

  • At least 89 endangered or threatened species and 108 migratory bird species will come under immediate threat from wall construction;
  • Recovery of two critically endangered species that regularly cross the border – jaguars and Mexican gray wolves – will be in serious jeopardy;
  • Migratory bird habitat will be destroyed and some species like the ferruginous pygmy owl – will be unable to fly across what could be 30-foot barriers; and
  • Pristine wildlife refuges and conservation lands, including the Lower Rio Grande and Buenos Aires national wildlife refuges and the Otay Mountain Wilderness, will be permanently marred as whole sections are destroyed and walled off forever.

On top of it all, the Trump administration could exempt the border wall’s construction from ever having to comply with environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act.

Building a massive, impenetrable barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border would wreak havoc on wildlife, critical habitat and communities. For many species, it would be the end of the road.

Animal overpasses on I-90 will grant safe passage to Washington wildlife

http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/animal-overpasses-on-i-90-will-grant-safe-passage-to-washington-wildlife/703210866

By: Ashli Blow, KIRO 7 News Dig

 

From snow-covered mountains to northwest ocean waters, it’s no secret that Washington is passionate about protecting all the wildlife in between.

In an effort to keep animals out of harm’s way, the state has invested millions of dollars into creating animal overpasses that stretch over busy roadways. A bridge under construction, east of Snoqualmie Pass, will be the the first of its kind in Washington, but it’s just not for conservation.

>> Related: State breaks ground on new I-90 wildlife overpass

It’s about balancing human transportation needs with wildlife habitats, according to Washington State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meagan Lott.

https://giphy.com/embed/NsEJG01gxYKg2x7Ust

“You’re improving safety, you’re relieving congestion and you’re also looking at the environmental aspects,” she told The Spokesman-Review.

Conservation Northwest has led efforts to get an overpass to connect two important habitats in the Price Creek area near mile marker 62 in eastern Washington.

>> Related: DNA tests confirm gray wolf is roaming NW Washington

As explained in a series of interviews in a Conservation Northwest documentary, animal crossings over I-90 — where 27,000 cars drive daily —  is a serious safety problem for wildlife and drivers.

https://giphy.com/embed/vN1UvWzFU7BmFZqkI3

Animal monitoring shows that it’s wildlife’s natural migration pattern to cross I-90 because of how they come down from the mountain. And their best solution is the 150-feet-wide, vegetated overpass because it gives animals the most natural path forward.

>> Related: New eastside residents could be attracting bears, biologist says

They decided to steer away from creating an underpass — much like a successful construction project near the Summit of Snoqualmie — because elk out don’t like traveling underground.

https://giphy.com/embed/4MXV2oNgsP7xdFpUDv

“If we’re blocking them from moving, we’re preventing them to find food, we’re blocking their ability to find places to live,”  Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest’s I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition coordinator, said in a YouTube video.

>> Related: King County calls wildlife crossing ‘very successful’

“An overpass is a bridge over the highway … with native trees and shrubs from the surrounding forest, so they walk over the interstate and never realize they’ve left the forest on either side.”

While the overpass — totaling $6.2 million — near Spokane is now visible to drivers, it won’t be completed until 2019. It’s one of the 20 animal crossings planned in a billion-dollar upgrade project between Hyak and Easton.

https://giphy.com/embed/4QFAV1rvvQ5eDy0Tht

As some taxpayers find that price tag steep, transportation leaders and conservation activists say that reducing the hazards of collisions is worth it.

>> PHOTOS: Animals at wildlife crossing in Redmond

On a smaller scale, King County already has functioning animal crossing bridge over a roadway in Redmond.

KIRO 7 News spoke with Rick Brater, county road engineer for the King County Road Services Division, just a year after it opened  at Northeast Novelty Hill Road in 2015

“I think right now we can say it’s very successful,” Brater said. “We saw deer cross almost immediately as we opened it up.”

It usually takes about three to five years for animals to start using crossings. The area saw significantly fewer incidents with wildlife crossings just months into the city’s new bridge.

Humane Society CEO is subject of sexual harassment complaints from three women, according to internal investigation

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/humane-society-ceo-is-subject-of-sexual-harassment-complaints-from-three-women-according-to-internal-investigation/2018/01/29/12c8961e-053b-11e8-94e8-e8b8600ade23_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_humane-10pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.e97e383d8bb7

Humane Society chief executive Wayne Pacelle and his dog Lily at work in Washington in August 2016. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
An internal investigation by a law firm hired by the Humane Society of the United States has identified three complaints of sexual harassment by chief executive Wayne Pacelle and found that senior female leaders said their warnings about his conduct went unheeded, according to two people familiar with the matter and a Humane Society memo describing the investigation.

The investigation also found the nonprofit agency, one of the country’s biggest animal charities, had offered settlements to three other workers who said they were demoted or dismissed after reporting Pacelle’s alleged behavior, according to the Humane Society memo.

Investigators from the law firm Morgan Lewis, who interviewed 33 people, including Pacelle, also reported that there was a perception within the Humane Society that certain women owed their career success to romantic relationships with the chief executive.

Pacelle denied the complaints from all three women in an interview Monday with The Washington Post. “This is a coordinated attempt to attack me and the organization,” he said. “And I absolutely deny any suggestion that I did anything untoward.”

He denied allegations he had consensual sex with donors and volunteers as “just ad hominem attacks.” And he said no senior women had warned him about his conduct. “Absolutely not. I enjoy the support of senior women throughout the organization. No one has ever warned me of such a thing, ever.”

A spokesperson for the Humane Society declined to comment on the findings of the investigation, referring The Post to a statement made Thursday by Eric Bernthal, chairman of the organization’s board of directors. His remarks came shortly after the charity announced it was launching an investigation.

“We do not have information that can be shared regarding the investigation, its findings, or board actions at this time,” the statement said. “We believe it is important to deal in substance and not rumors, and our process is designed to ensure confidentiality and fair consideration of these issues.”

The decision to launch an investigation was first reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Pacelle said that he was aware of the investigation but added: “There are allegations only. Beware of rumors and other unsubstantiated claims.”

The earliest complaint against Pacelle dates to 2005, when an intern said the chief executive asked to meet outside of work at a public coffee shop, according to the memo reviewed by The Post.

According to her account, Pacelle pulled her close, started slow dancing with her and gave her an unwanted kiss, the investigation document said.

Another woman told investigators she regularly traveled with Pacelle on business and that donors mentioned his sexual interest in her, remarking that dating him would be good for her career.

On one such work trip in 2006, she told investigators Pacelle asked her to stop by his hotel room after an event. He asked if he could masturbate in front of her, requested that she take off her clothes and offered to perform oral sex on her, according to two people briefed on the matter and the memo. When the woman refused, Pacelle told her not to tell anyone or she would destroy the Humane Society and lose her job, according to the memo.

A third woman, who joined the Humane Society in 2012 but has since left the organization, told investigators that Pacelle stopped by her office late one night when she was working alone, started salsa dancing on his own and asked her to join him.

Pacelle denied all three complaints. “The one complaint about the salsa dancing, I simply had a conversation with a person and it turned into that,” he told The Post. “The person with the hotel — I’m familiar with that. I worked with the person eight years after that allegation. The person never said a thing to me about any harassment, and I certainly never invited her to a hotel room.”

Pacelle also denied the complaints to investigators, according to the memo.

The investigation began on Dec. 20 after the Humane Society received an anonymous complaint about Pacelle’s behavior. The organization then hired Morgan Lewis, a Washington law firm, to look into the matter.

The investigation also found that Pacelle had maintained a sexual relationship with a female subordinate and exchanged more than 100 emails with her. The woman told the investigation that she became afraid of Pacelle after the relationship ended, describing him as abusive and controlling, according to the memo.

Pacelle denied having a relationship with the subordinate. He also disputed there was anything inappropriate in the relationship to investigators, according to the memo.

The investigation’s findings are based on interviews, evidence provided by witnesses and emails on Pacelle’s work computer, according to the memo.

Since taking the helm at the Humane Society, which has its headquarters in the District, Pacelle’s salary rose to nearly $380,000 in 2016, according to IRS filings.

Some employees defended Pacelle to investigators, describing him as someone who engaged in consensual relationships with adults. Others said the chief executive created a toxic environment at the Humane Society in which workers thought they had to sleep with Pacelle to get ahead, or suspected women who achieved career success of dating him in secret, according to the memo.

The people briefed on the investigation told The Post they wanted to come forward to repair the culture at the Humane Society, which they believe does important work to help animals.

The organization is focused on ending animal cruelty, abolishing “puppy mills” and banning seal slaughter, among other causes.

The people briefed on the investigation said they worried that money going to address Pacelle’s actions was misdirected from protecting wildlife.

One woman said she received a settlement from the Humane Society after she complained about Pacelle’s alleged girlfriend joining her team without proper qualifications and was shut out of work opportunities, according to the memo.

Two more received payouts after they leveled retaliation charges against the organization, asserting they lost their jobs after speaking up about Pacelle’s office romance and sexual behavior in the office, according to the memo.

Pacelle said he would not comment on any settlements.

The amounts of the settlements were not disclosed.

HUMANS TAKE UP TOO MUCH SPACE — AND IT’S AFFECTING HOW MAMMALS MOVE

Study found that human-modified landscapes shrink mammal movements by up to half

FIELD MUSEUM PUBLIC RELEASE: 25-JAN-2018

Human beings take up a lot of real estate — around 50-70 percent of the Earth’s land surface. And our increasing footprint affects how mammals of all sizes, from all over the planet, move.

A study recently published by Science found that, on average, mammals living in human-modified habitats move two to three times less far than their counterparts in areas untouched by humans.

What’s more, this pattern persists globally: from African forest elephants to white-tailed antelope squirrels in North America, the human footprint infringes upon the footprints of mammal species both big and small. The study, led by Marlee Tucker of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Germany, is the first of its kind to log movement behaviors for such a wide range of mammals globally.

“All organisms need space,” Bruce Patterson, a co-author of this study and MacArthur Curator of Mammals at The Field Museum in Chicago, explained. “They need space to gather their resources, find mates, and perform their ecological services.” For instance, bats need room to find and consume insects and pollinate plants (which amount to $3.5 to 50 billion worth of agricultural labor annually in the US alone), and apex predators need room to hunt and control other species’ populations.

In the study, more than 100 researchers contributed information on 803 individual mammals representing 57 species in total. Patterson offered up data on the movement of lions in a pristine wilderness area of Tsavo, Kenya. From 2002-09, he followed three lions using high-tech collars that continuously tracked individuals’ movement via GPS — the data he contributed to the Science study. One of those lions, in its natural habitat, patrolled an area twice the size of Chicago (1400 km2) to find food, attract mates, and repel intruders.

But habitat loss and fragmentation disrupt these critical animal behaviors. Clearing rainforest is an example of habitat loss — the destruction and loss of usable area for a given species. Constructing a road through the savannah, on the other hand, constitutes habitat fragmentation — the division of habitat area into smaller, discontinuous spaces. When suitable habitat spaces become too small or too isolated, animals can no longer afford to visit them, changing their space use.

As habitats become compromised, resources like food and living space that animals rely on become scarce. Sometimes, when resources are limited, animals traverse larger areas to get what they need — if there’s not enough food in a five-mile radius, they might move to a ten-mile radius. However, this study shows that on the whole, that sort of additional movement tends not to be an option — if there’s no uninterrupted landscape available, then the affected animals simply can’t live there.

To that end, the Science study found “strong negative effects of the human footprint on median and long-distance displacements of terrestrial mammals.” Patterson put it more simply: “Human dominion over Earth’s landscapes gets in the way of animals doing their thing.” Some species, like mice, can make do with less room, but animals that need lots of space, like lions, tigers, and elephants, simply can’t live in areas with lots of humans.

“It is important that animals move, because in moving they carry out important ecological functions like transporting nutrients and seeds between different areas. Additionally, mammalian movements bring different species together and thus allow for interactions in food webs that might otherwise not occur. If mammals move less this could alter any of these ecosystem functions,” says lead author Marlee Tucker.

Across the wide array of species its data encompasses, the study points to a singular, and grim, conclusion: For mammal species, the effects of habitat loss and habitat fragmentation don’t discriminate by geographic location, body size, or where that species sits on the food chain — the human footprint threatens most other mammals.

Still, Patterson remains hopeful that the Science study can guide further research and change our approach to human land use. “Ultimately, it would be good to know whether there are critical thresholds in the human footprint for the species living around us. Are there specific points beyond which resources become limiting and species are excluded?” he asked. “As we continue to transform the landscape and as the human population expands, we’re limiting the space and resources that other mammals need to live.”

Brazil abolishes huge Amazon reserve in ‘biggest attack’ in 50 years

SIGN THE PETITION

To Brazil’s National Congress, the Special House Committee, and President Michel Temer:

We demand that you listen to the appeal of the Brazilian people and stop, once and for all, passing laws, decrees, and any other irresponsible legislative measure to please the interests of powerful parties and politicians. This abuse triggers deforestation and the irreversible destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which is part of the shared heritage of humanity for present and future generations.

https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/all_for_amazon_loc/?bVYyJab&v=97724&cl=13176580235&_checksum=21ed7e562bff8f20e4e0f99ed6b6a6e4f95db153de4035ce2f0ea1b49a043d92

Brazilian court blocks abolition of vast Amazon reserve (The Guardian)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/30/brazilian-court-blocks-abolition-of-vast-amazon-reserveBrazil abolishes huge Amazon reserve in ‘biggest attack’ in 50 years (The Guardian)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/24/brazil-abolishes-huge-amazon-reserve-in-biggest-attack-in-50-years

Temer pushes Amazon deforestation bill in Brazil (Financial Times)
https://www.ft.com/content/1435c6ae-6b6a-11e7-bfeb-33fe0c5b7eaa

Activists decry Temer’s Amazon deforestation bill (Al Jazeera)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/activists-decry-temer-amazon-deforestation-bill-170722042156015.html

Trump admin to expand hunting access on public lands

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/15/politics/interior-expand-hunting-access-on-public-lands/index.html

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Order aims to allow broader access to public lands to hunters, fishers
  • Interior Department says Obama administration was too restrictive

Washington (CNN)Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order Friday morning aiming to expand access for hunters and fishers to public lands and monuments.

In what is being described as an “expansive” secretarial order, Zinke’s rule would ultimately allow broader access across the board to hunters and fishers on public lands managed by the Interior Department, according to the order.
A section of the order also amends the national monument management plan to include or expand hunting and fishing opportunities to the “extent practicable under the law.”
The order cites a 2007 executive order from President George W. Bush to “facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitat.” It directs agencies to to create a report and plan to streamline how best to enhance and expand access to hunting and fishing on public lands.
The Interior Department oversees national parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands.
The secretarial order also aims to expand educational outreach for hunting and fishing to “under served” communities such as minorities and veterans as well as increase volunteer access to federal lands.
“Today’s secretarial order is the latest example of how the Trump administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands,” Zinke said in a statement.
“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” he said.
Interior said Obama administration policies were too restrictive.
“Through management plans made under the previous administration, which did not appreciate access to hunting and target shooting like this administration does, access and usage has been restricted,” said Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift.
Zinke’s rule will not have to go through a formal rule-making process.
It is the second major action from Interior in the last few weeks.
In August, Zinke recommended shrinking the boundaries of a handful of national monuments, but stopped short of suggesting the elimination of any federal designations following a review ordered by President Donald Trump.
At Trump’s direction, Zinke earlier this year launched a review of 27 national monuments, a controversial move that could undo protections for millions of acres of federal lands, as well as limits on oil and gas or other energy production. Interior and the White House have so far resisted releasing the contents of Zinke’s full recommendations.
However some groups are arguing that the new order is a “stunt” by the department, aimed at moving the dialogue away from other recent controversial actions they’ve taken — including recommending the shrinking of national monuments and supporting increased fracking and logging.
“The real story is that, with this announcement, the Trump administration is trying to create a distraction from their plans to dramatically reduce the size of America’s national monuments, which would be the largest elimination of protections on wildlife habitat in US history,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.
He added that according to the Congressional Research Service, every national monument “that the Trump administration claims to be opening to hunting and recreational fishing is already open to hunting and recreational fishing.”
Drew McConville, a senior managing director at the Wilderness Society, called the order a “red herring.”
“This issue is … completely unnecessary, since national monuments are typically open to hunting and fishing already,” McConville said. “The Trump administration ‘review’ of places protected as national monuments is nothing more than an excuse to sell out America’s most treasured public lands for commercial gain by oil, gas and other extractive industries. This agenda inherently means a loss of access to premier places for hunting, fishing and other outdoor pastimes.”

B.C. wildlife struggles with summer heat and wildfires

By Cory Correia, CBC News
<http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted:
Aug 13, 2017 10:00 AM PT Last Updated: Aug 13, 2017 10:00 AM PT

This Virginia Rail was found in Sechelt and is one of the tiniest birds the
Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. has taken into its Burnaby hospital.
<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4244895.1502506110%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/
derivatives/16x9_620/wildlife-rescue-association-of-bc-virginia-rail.jpg>

This Virginia Rail was found in Sechelt and is one of the tiniest birds the
Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. has taken into its Burnaby hospital.
(Wildlife Rescue Association of BC)

A summer heat wave and extensive wildfires in the B.C. Interior have been
abnormally hard on animals in the province, especially nestlings.

Burnaby’s Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C.
<https://www.wildliferescue.ca/> services the entire province, and says
it’s taking in 20 injured animals a day, with 95 percent suffering from
dehydration.

“The heat is overwhelming them, particularly the past couple weeks have been
really bad. We’ve had a lot of young nestlings, jumping out of nests to
avoid the heat,” said Sam Smith, communications coordinator at Wildlife
Rescue.

Smith says when young birds leave the nest too early, they end up falling on
the ground and start to waste away, because they don’t yet have the strength
to fly or move.

Wildlife Rescue Association of BC Pelagic Cormorant
<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4244901.1502506230%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/
derivatives/original_620/wildlife-rescue-association-of-bc-pelagic-cormorant
.JPG>

This Pelagic Cormorant was taken into the Wildlife Rescue Association of
B.C. suffering from dehydration due to the summer heat. (Wildlife Rescue
Association of BC)

Smith says it’s mostly birds that he sees affected by the heat, including
songbirds, waterfowl, marine animals, crows and ravens.

“Sometimes, they’re just so out of sorts, they can’t even drink, let alone
open up their mouths to be given fluids,” he said. In those cases, he says,
they have to hydrate the animals with an injection.

People can help, though, says Smith. “Leave a little lid out with some water
in the shade, or, better yet, fill a small kiddie pool with water and place
some branches/stones inside to allow smaller birds a place to perch while
they drink.”

If anyone sees wildlife in distress, they can usher it into some shade, get
it water and call Wildlife Rescue at 604-526-7275.

Nestlings rescued from wildfires

The wildfires have claimed their own victims, with wildlife rescue an
afterthought.

Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society <http://www.owlrehab.org/> (OWL)
in Delta says they have been taking in young birds injured or left behind in
the wake of the wildfires.

OWL Orphaned Wildlife
<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4244903.1502506492%21/fileImage/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/
derivatives/original_620/owl-orphaned-wildlife.JPG>

The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society says they currently have nine
rescued animals ready to go back into the wild, including four saw-whet
Owls, one long-eared owl, and four kestrel falcons. (OWL Orphaned Wildlife)

“Most of the adult birds at the time or adult animals would know to flee.
It’s just the young ones that are left behind . So a lot were probably burnt
up pretty good, and the ones that could survive, survived, and the ones that
were found, were found,” said Rob Hope, raptor care manager with OWL.

Hope says they have nine baby birds live tested, flight tested and ready to
get back to their communities, once the fires subside.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-animals-orphaned-summer-he
at-wildfires-1.4244882

B.C. wildfires’ impact on animals ‘to be horrific’: wildlife rehab facility

by LARRY PYNN   July 12, 2017 2:32 PM PDT

Angelika Langen examines a black bear under her care at Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers. NORTHERN LIGHTS WILDLIFE SOCIETY

A major wildlife rehabilitation facility is bracing for the devastating impact of the B.C. wildfires on birds and mammals.

“It’s going to be horrific,” Angelika Langen, co-founder of non-profit Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, said in an interview Wednesday.

“We’re expecting a storm in the aftermath of the fires. It’s pretty horrible for the wildlife with this huge area affected. It’s all over. It’s going to have an impact on numbers. At this large scale, it’s going to be devastating.”

The B.C. Wildfire Service reports that wildfires have consumed more than 700 square kilometres so far this year across the province, mostly in the Cariboo region.

Northern Lights accepts large and small mammals for rehabilitation and release, while typically sending birds south to facilities such as OWL (Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society) in Delta and Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. in Burnaby.

Northern Lights has a mobile team that visits areas of the province in greatest need, and is licensed to use tranquilizers to capture wildlife. It also has catch poles, live traps, kennels and medical kits for injuries, including burns.

Langen said the full impact won’t be known until the wildfires are over and people get back into the areas currently closed off due to fire danger.

She is already preparing her facility to better handle the anticipated influx of wildlife, readying enclosures, including for possible enlargement with portable fencing for emergencies.

Based on her experience with past wildfires, Langen said smaller animals, including birds still in nests and other young of the year “won’t have a chance to get out” by outrunning the fire. The impact extends down the food chain to snakes and frogs.

Larger animals such as deer and bears stand the best chance of finding safe ground, but may leave behind young that cannot keep up.

“We expect a lot of displaced and orphaned animals that have lost or been separated from their parents,” Langen said. “It’s really hard to predict. It depends on how many people get into those areas after the fires and what will be found.”

The Northwest Territories government reports that fire “disturbance to the boreal forest is necessary for wildlife habitat and diversity. Excluding fire from the landscape causes an unnatural aging of the forest and loss of the habitat mosaic.”

Managed fires can actually improve or maintain wildlife habitat, and reduce the risk and intensity of future wildfires by removing some of the potential fuel, the government adds.

According to The Wildlife Society in the U.S., a study evaluated the effects of different conditions — unburned and prescribed and wildland fires — on populations and habitats of birds throughout the West.

In the northern sites, prescribed fire treatments resulted in increased occupancy rates for many bark-insectivore, cavity-nesting, aerial-insectivore and ground-insectivore species, whereas some foliage insectivores and seed specialists declined. In the Southwest, the impacts of prescribed fire treatment on breeding birds were minor. Overall, more species benefited than not two to three years after a prescribed fire.

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/b-c-wildfires-impact-on-animals-to-be-horrific-wildlife-rehab-facility

Changes in Yellowstone Climate

Distant snow-covered mountains and an ice-covered lake with large cracks
Scientists with the National Park Service and other organizations closely monitor variables that may reflect a changing climate. In Yellowstone, these include whitebark pine, snowpack, the greening of plants, and wildlife.

NPS / Jim Peaco

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is a complex region, encompassing approximately 58,000 square miles and 14 mountain ranges. Weather varies greatly across steep elevational changes, bringing snowfall to some areas, and warm, dry conditions to others. This dynamic system has provoked the curiosity of researchers for a long time.

Across Space and Time

Space and time are critical to the evaluation of real-world data, and every study defines their parameters differently. This can make it difficult to get a sense of what is actually occurring. Climate summaries over longer periods of time and across larger areas tend to mask local extremes. Conversely, a continuously changing set of short-term reference averages (weather “normals”) could unintentionally obscure the long-term magnitude of change. It is important to look at climate information across many scales and to use available data and models to arrive at reasonable answers to our questions about how climate has changed, how those changes will affect the park, and what impacts we may be able to anticipate in the future.

Analyzing smaller areas within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), say in Yellowstone National Park or on the Northern Range, poses specific challenges. Small regions have fewer actual monitoring stations to feed data to computer models and gridded weather data is often used to fill in the gaps. As a consequence, small-area analyses may not be as accurate. Local field observations from stream gauge and weather stations can be used to verify some of the observed trends, and to describe local conditions to which the ecological system may be responding. This “ground-truthing” allows researchers to arrive at reasonable conclusions about ecological activity.

Temperature and Precipitation

Global temperature is the master force affecting climate. Everything else that climate affects—sea level rise, growing season, drought, glacial melt, extreme storms—is driven by changes in temperature. Weather stations have been maintained within the GYE since 1894, resulting in some of the longest running records of temperature and precipitation anywhere in the United States. These days, increasingly sophisticated satellite technology as well as data sets yielded by the science of climate modeling, also help climate experts and park managers assess the current situation in the GYE across several scales.

There is evidence that climate has changed in the past century and will continue to change in the future. Researchers looking at annual average temperatures report an increase of 0.31°F/decade within the GYE, consistent with the continuing upward trend in global temperatures. Recent studies show mean annual minimum and maximum temperatures have been increasing at the same rate of 0.3°F/decade for the GYE. Conditions are becoming significantly drier at elevations below 6,500 ft. In fact, the rise in minimum temperatures in the last decade exceeds those of the 1930s Dust Bowl Era.

Future Temperature and Precipitation

All global climate models predict that temperatures in the GYE will continue to increase. Projections of future precipitation vary based on differing scenarios that account for future levels of greenhouse gas emissions, which depend upon economic, policy, and institutional improvements, or lack thereof. Any potential increases in precipitation that may or may not occur will be overwhelmed by temperature increases. Considering the most recent trends in which warmer temperatures have been exacerbating drought conditions during the summers, a warmer, drier future for the GYE appears likely in the coming decades. By the latter part of the 21st century, the hot, dry conditions that led to the fires of 1988 will likely be the norm, representing a significant shift from past norms in the GYE toward the type of climate conditions we currently see in the southwestern United States.

Orange sunlight illuminates the side of a snow-covered mountain peak above a snow-covered forest
Changes in the area covered by snow are especially important because snow reflects solar radiation and tends to keep land cool.

NPS / Neal Herbert

Snowpack and Snow Cover

Snowmelt in the alpine areas of the Rocky Mountains is critical to both the quality and quantity of water throughout the region, providing 60–80 percent of streamflow in the West. Throughout the GYE, snow often lingers into early summer at high elevations. Each year, a large spike in water flow occurs when snow starts to melt at lower elevations, usually in late February and early March. Peak flow is reached when the deep snow fields at mid- and high elevations begin to melt more quickly, typically in June. Minimum flow occurs during winter when all the previous year’s snow has melted, temperatures have dropped, and precipitation comes down as snow instead of rain so only water flowing from underground sources can supply the streams. By contrast, the proportion of stream flow due to rain storms is significantly lower than the contributions of snow melt.

Climate change is expected to affect both snow accumulation and rate of spring melt. In some places, warmer temperatures will mean more moisture falling as rain during the cooler months and the snowpack melting earlier in the year. The reduction in snowpack is most pronounced in spring and summer, with an overall continued decline in snowfall projected for Yellowstone over the coming decades. The Yellowstone, Snake, and Green rivers all have their headwaters in Yellowstone. As major tributaries for the Missouri, Columbia, and Colorado rivers, they are important sources of water for drinking, agriculture, recreation, and energy production throughout the region. A decrease in Yellowstone’s snow will affect millions of people beyond the boundaries of the GYE who depend this critical source of water.

Future Snowpack and Snow Cover

The interaction between snowpack, temperature, and precipitation involves a complex interchange between heat and light. Warming temperatures increase evaporation; increased moisture in the air could lead to more snowfall and cloud cover. The increased cloud cover could block additional heat from reaching the surface of the earth resulting in cooler temperatures below. However, increased temperature could possibly limit snowfall instead—by converting it to rain or by melting snow rapidly once it falls, thereby driving snowlines further up the mountains. Recently modeling work indicates that snowpack will almost certainly decline in the long-term.

Changes in the area covered by snow are especially important as snow reflects more solar radiation out to space (albedo) than bare ground and tends to keep the surface cool. When land is exposed, sunlight is absorbed by the surface of the earth. This raises the overall surface temperature, which leads to more melting and less snowcover.

A river flows through a rocky canyon and creates white water below rocks
Climate change will affect streams differently, but increased variability is expected along with a shift in the timing of peak flows.

NPS / Jim Peaco

Stream Flow and Water Temperature

Glaciers, snowpack, and rainfall produce water that flows through streams, lakes and rivers, and these waterways are critical to life. Analyses of streams during 1950–2010 in the Central Rocky Mountains, including those in the GYE, show an 89% decline in stream discharge. Reduced flows were most pronounced during the summer months, especially in the Yellowstone River. In addition, stream temperatures have changed across the range of the Yellowstone, with a warming of 1.8°F (1°C) over the past century. Continued warming could have major implications to the management and preservation of the many aquatic resources we have today. Changes in volume and timing of spring runoff may disrupt native fish spawning and increase nonnative aquatic species expansion.

Growing Season

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that overall forest growth in North America will likely increase 10–20% as a result of extended growing seasons and elevated CO2 during the next century but with important spatial and temporal variations. Forests in the Rocky Mountain/Columbia Basin region are expected to have less snow on the ground, a shorter snow season, a longer growing season due to an earlier spring start, earlier peak snowmelt, and about two months of additional drought. However, despite a longer growing season, Yellowstone forests will likely be less dense, more patchy, and have more diverse age structure. Experts project less tree cover in much of the park as well as potential migration of new species like Ponderosa pine. Complicating matters, increased drought stress and higher temperatures may increase the likelihood of widespread die-offs of some vegetation.

The integrated runoff response from the Yellowstone River has been toward earlier spring runoff peaks, which suggests that the majority of the park is experiencing shorter winters and longer summers as a result of snowpack changes. Changes in these seasonal patterns will likely disrupt vegetation growth and development, causing plants to bud, flower, fruit and die at different times of the year than they do now. Those changes, in turn, would alter or seriously disrupt wildlife migrations, one of the key resources for which Yellowstone National Park is globally treasured.

Extreme Events: Insect Activity

Although outbreak dynamics differ among species and forests, climate change appears to be driving current insect outbreaks. Western spruce budworm outbreaks were more widespread and lasted longer in the 20th century than in the 19th century primarily because of fire suppression and increasing fir populations. However, patterns of spruce budworm outbreaks have been tied to climate nationwide.

Summer and spring precipitation are positively correlated with increased frequency of outbreaks over regional scales and long time frames, but experimental evidence suggests that drought may promote infestations. Although bark beetle infestations are a force of natural change in forested ecosystems, several concurrent outbreaks across western North America are the largest and most severe in recorded history. From 2004 to 2008, the area of mountain pine beetle outbreaks increased across Wyoming from 1,000 to 100,000 acres. At the end of 2014, an estimated 30% of whitebark pine trees in the GYE had been killed as a result of mountain pine beetle, whitepine blister rust, wildland fire, and other factors. Since 1999, an eruption of mountain pine beetle events has been observed that exceed the frequencies, impacts, and ranges documented during the last 125 years. Aerial assessment of whitebark pine species populations within the GYE has indicated a 79% mortality rate of mature trees.

These changes may be early indicators of how GYE vegetation communities will shift due to climate change. These outbreaks of bark beetles in the West have coincided with increased temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns, suggesting a response to a changing climate. Warming temperatures and the loss of extreme cold days reduce winter overkills of insects, speed up life cycles, modify damage rates, and lead to range expansions, particularly in the north.

Future Insect Activity

Climate change, and particularly warming, will have a dramatic impact on pest insects, and the recent trends of increasing outbreaks are expected to worsen. The greatest increase in mountain pine beetle outbreaks is expected to occur at high elevations, where models predict warmer temperatures will increase winter survival. At low elevations, however, mountain pine beetle populations may decrease as warmer temperatures disrupt the insects’ seasonality. Climate change will also alter host susceptibility to infestation. Over the short-term, trees will likely increase in susceptibility to pests due to stress from fires, drought, and high temperatures; over the long-term, these stresses will cause tree ranges and distributions to change. Moreover, climate change and changes in CO2 and ozone may alter the conifers’ defensive mechanisms and susceptibility to beetles through their effects on the production of plant secondary compounds.

Insect infestations are damaging millions of acres of western forests and there is clear evidence that damage is increasing. Nonetheless, future predictions of the extent of infestations remain uncertain because our understanding of insect infestations is incomplete. Key uncertainties include the influence of drought and precipitation changes, how altered forest/host composition will alter outbreaks, the biochemical response of trees and evolution of defensive mechanisms, regional differences, and the interactive effects of fire, plant disease, and insect outbreaks.

Smoky haze above an open forest with mountains in the background obscuring a cloudy sky and the sun
Rapid climate and associated ecosystem transitions in the Rocky Mountains have occurred in the past and will likely occur in the future. Projections include a higher frequency of large fires, longer fire seasons, and an increased area of the western US burned by fire.

NPS / Jim Peaco

Extreme Events: Fire Activity

The increasing frequency of warm spring and summer temperatures, reduced winter precipitation, and earlier snowmelt in the West during the last 20 years has led to an increase in the frequency of very large wildfires and total acres burned annually. The relative influence of climate on fire behavior varies regionally and by ecosystem type, but generally current-year drought, low winter precipitation, wind conditions, and high summer temperature are determining factors for area burned in the Rockies.

Fire dynamics have been altered by climate indirectly through its effects on insect infestations and forest health. By changing the forest environment, bark beetles can influence the probability, extent, and behavior of fire events, but despite the widely held belief that bark beetle outbreaks set the stage for severe wildfires, few scientifically and statistically sound studies have been published on this topic. That fire promotes beetle infestations is clearer; the fire-caused injury changes conifers’ volatile emissions, increasing their susceptibility to bark beetles.

Future Fires

Most evidence suggests that climate change will bring increases in the frequency, intensity, severity, and average annual extent of wildland fires. Models project that numerous aspects of fire behavior will change, including longer fire seasons, more days with high fire danger, increased natural ignition frequency and fire severity, more frequent large fires, and more episodes of extreme fire behavior. The best evidence is for increases in the average annual area burned. However, the charcoal in lake sediment cores is telling a different story in Yellowstone. These records extend back 17,000 years, and were taken from Cygnet Lake on the Central Plateau. Charcoal from 8,000 years ago, when temperature increases were equal to what we are now experiencing, shows more frequent but smaller fires than today.

Projecting the influences of climate change on future patterns of fire is extremely difficult. Fuels, along with fire weather, determine fire size and severity: the stand- replacing fires of today open up the forests where stands have been burned, limiting fuels for the next fire. As a result, areas with frequent fires also tend to have small fires. Other factors, such as increases in non-native, annual grass invasions, may alter fire dynamics, making predictions based on climate alone difficult.

Continue: Examining the Evidence for Yellowstone

More Information

Quick Facts

The Issue

The global climate is changing, and is already affecting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

  • Average temperatures in the park are higher now than they were 50 years ago, especially during springtime. Nighttime temperatures seem to be increasing more rapidly than daytime temperatures.
  • In the last 50 years, the growing season (the time between the last freeze of spring and the first freeze of fall) has increased by roughly 30 days in some areas of the park.
  • At the northeast entrance, there are now 80 more days per year above freezing than there were in the 1960s.
  • There are approximately 30 fewer days per year with snow on the ground than there were in the 1960s.