Published Friday, July 1, 2005
Global Warming Affecting Waterfowl
By Del Milligan
The gradual impact of global warming on Florida waterfowl is no longer a farfetched excuse for duck hunters unable to fill their limits.
Dr. Doug Inkley, senior science advisor for the National Wildlife Federation, said Thursday that warmer temperatures in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Dakotas and South Central Canada are causing ducks and geese to remain up north longer.
"What's really happening here is short-stopping," said Inkley. "Ducks and geese will only move as far south as they need to to find food and open water. Ice isn't forming as early as it used to, and birds are staying up north longer."
The Earth's average temperature has risen one degree over the past 100 years with the Industrial Age and ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels.
The NWF released a research report this week, "The Waterfowler's Guide to Global Warming," stating carbon dioxide emissions may cause average temperatures to rise 2-10 degrees in the next 100 years.
In effect, warmer weather is shrinking habitat in waterfowl's breeding, migrating and wintering habitats. Ducks and geese are expanding their breeding grounds farther north and remaining there longer in the winter.
Inkley said the report shows that there could be "up to a 69 percent decline in breeding waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region over the next 80 years."
Species most at risk are mallards, gadwall, blue-winged teal, northern pintail, canvasback, redheads and ruddy ducks.
Preston Robertson, vice president and general counsel for the Florida Wildlife Federation, said one-third of migratory waterfowl in Florida comes from the Prairie Pothole Region even though we are in the Atlantic Flyway.
Duck hunters in Central Florida have noticed a steep decline in the number of all migratory species, especially ringneck ducks, during recent years and especially the 2004-05 season.
The NWF has been lobbying in Washington for passage of legislation limiting the emission of greenhouse gases. The Senate voted 53-44-3 on June 22 against the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Florida's Democratic senator, Bill Nelson, voted against the bill, while Republican Mel Martinez voted in favor.
Del Milligan's outdoors column appears Fridays in The Ledger. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 863-802-7555.
Last modified: July 01. 2005 12:00AM
By the same token it makes the hunting that much better nort of you all.