White Iron Chain Of Lakes Association
Climate Change is affecting Minnesota more than most states
Loons could retreat into Canada, leaving Minnesota for good by 2080, if climate change continues to deteriorate the birds’ 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 that habitats are beginning to change faster as climate change happens faster, and the flora and fauna can’t keep up.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, the state just keeps getting warmer and is receiving more precipitation. This 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’s average temperatures have warmed 2.9 degrees (Fahrenheit) between 1895 and 2017 and the state 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 and droughts, as well as winter freeze-thaw patterns. He says numerous species in the area, including deer, walleyes, ticks, turkeys, pheasants, snowshoe hares, and others as well as a number of plant species, could be affected by these changes.
As the DNR and Tamarac wildlife scientists study these changes in climate, they are also trying to figure out ways to counteract their effects and maintain habitat balance for the wildlife here. Two of the biggest ways they’re looking to do that is by diversifying plants and finding ways to maintain water levels.
“We’re trying to diversify the forests a little bit more and...we’re picking species to replant that tolerate the dryer conditions,” said Baden, though he adds that it’s more complicated than that. There are many factors that go into picking certain seed mixes to plant, so they don’t “put all their eggs in one basket” with one single species.
Adding control structures to lakes to maintain water levels is another way the DNR is counteracting some of these changes, but Baden admits they have a ways to go and, while their actions are based on science, he says it’s not exact.
For more information on how climate change is affecting the state and ways the DNR is working to counteract that change, people can visit;