Packin’ up and heading north?
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- The loon could retreat into Canada, leaving Minnesota for good by 2080, if climate change continues to deteriorate the bird’s habitat in the state.
Tamarac wildlife biologist Wayne Brininger says climate change has happened gradually for millions of years, and plants and animals have been able to adapt to the slow changes. The problem is, habitats are beginning to change faster as climate change happens faster, and the flora and fauna can’t keep up.
Minnesota’s climate is changing faster than most, studies are showing. Rather than gradually easing into a winter freeze and easing back out into a spring thaw, like it used to, Minnesota is losing its normal winters and beginning to experience more extreme weather events, which could spell trouble for the state bird and other area wildlife.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, the state just keeps getting warmer and is receiving more precipitation, though the precipitation seems to come in “hundred year flood events” and then completely stops, causing flooding and then drought, neither of which are friendly to area wildlife. Minnesota has warmed 2.9 degrees between 1895 and 2017 and now gets an average of 3.4 more inches of precipitation, though the most dramatic changes have happened in the last several decades and are expected to continue.
Rob Baden, Detroit Lakes DNR wildlife manager, says many studies are showing that the state is experiencing more extreme precipitation events, droughts, as well as winter freeze-thaw patterns. He says numerous species in the area, including deer, walleye, ticks, turkeys, pheasants, snowshoe hares, and others as well as a number of plants, could be affected by these changes.
Experts say some species will do even better in Minnesota, but some may struggle. Some may straight up leave.
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