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NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Thursday 01/08/2009 Global Warming Article: Changing climate puts New Hampshire fish and wildlife at risk.

While many of us might think of climate change of something that will happen in the future global warming may already BE affecting some New Hampshire species. This state’s hunters and fishermen have been out in the fields, woods and streams and are already witnessing changes according to a poll taken by the National Wildlife Federation. While nearly two thirds of this state’s sportsmen say they believe that global warming is occurring in the state, fully a quarter of them say they have already seen changes in species or habitats. In fact starting in 2006 this state’s hunters have called upon the Fish and Game Department to adjust the fall American woodcock and duck seasons to compensate for later migration patterns.

At risk of global warming are this state’s native brook trout populations. Native brook trout remain common in many of the perennial stream that flow in our primarily wooded habitats. However water temperature above 70 degrees F is stressful to our native fish and a temperature above 75 degrees would prove fatal. Our Fish and Game fisheries biologists have been sampling streams across the state to document the current distribution of native brook trout.

And it is not just brook trout that are of concern to our biologists. In the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan completed in 2007 to assess the risks of wildlife climate change was described as a major threat to nearly two dozen species and habitats. From the White Mountain Arctic butterfly on our alpine peaks to American Marten and lynx in our spruce forests and on down to Common loons around our lakes and Common Terns along our coast species are at risk from global warming. A warming climate will even shift our forest types with spruce and fir habitats lost as these species die out along their southern range.

Even our black bears seem to be telling us to chill out. Mid winter occurrences of bears raiding bird feeders is on the rise as insomniac bears wander the winter away.

Eric Orff, wildlife biologist

Epsom, NH


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