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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
nhfishandwildlif@aol.com

NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Friday 11/30/2007 New Hampshire’s Restless Bears

“Turn down the heat, I can’t sleep” is what this state’s bears have been telling us of late. I chuckle at the several letters to the editor about bears taking down bird feeders right in Concord this late fall. Since about 2000 the Fish and Game Department has been getting calls practically all winter long about insomniac bears. This was not the case a decade ago and longer when bears typically went into hibernation by mid November or shortly there after.

Black bear numbers are up in the Granite State from as few as 1,000 in the mid 1980’s to over 5,000 by 2000 thanks to conservation efforts to restore numbers not seen in over a hundred years. But global warming is turning ever more of them into winter wanderers.

And it is not just bears that are staying out later each fall/winter. My own observations of frogs, and the state amphibian, the spotted newt lethargically moving about the forest floor in Thanksgiving Week the last two years has me wondering just how much global warming will affect the balance of nature.

Hunters noted a later migration of both the American woodcock and ducks the last few years which resulted in setting this falls hunting seasons for the species later than ever before. This winter duck hunters will have an open season until mid January to try to catch up with the late migrants on the coast.

Fall is not the only season for odd weather to have its impact on this state’s wildlife. The last two springs have produced successive “100-year” floods wiping out ground nesting birds such as ducks. As a result the number of juvenile ducks produced each year has declined.

Then there is the record summer heat taking its toll on our fish populations. Down on the coast the normally prolific river herring have been in a tail spin. High summer-time water temperatures in the Taylor River in South Hampton and the Exeter River in Exeter is squeezing the oxygen out of the rivers suffocating the fish. For instance just since 2001 the number of river herring returning to the Taylor River declined from 7000 in 2001 to just 147 in 2006.

Wake up New Hampshire, turn down the heat and let the bears sleep.


   

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