COLUMBUS – With warm weather in Ohio over the weekend, it turns out Buckeye Chuck’s prediction of six more weeks of winter might be wrong – and while Ohioans may have enjoyed the break from the cold, a new report indicates it’s a different story for small mammals like the groundhog.
According to findings from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), warming temperatures caused by climate change will shift habitats.
Frank Szollosi, NWF outreach manager for the Great Lakes region, says some animals native to the southern states could make their way north.
“Armadillos, which everyone associates with Texas, are going to be moving into Ohio,” says Szollosi. “Their range is going to allow them to set up shop in Ohio, and it could have detrimental effects on game species, such as quail and other birds that nest in the ground.”
The report says other animals that could leave Ohio seeking a colder habitat include the groundhog, flying squirrel and snowshoe hare.
Szollosi says efforts to stem carbon pollution from a variety of sources will be required to protect small animals from the threat of climate change. The report cites the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, as an important first step.
He’s convinced that a recent stay of the regulations by the U.S. Supreme Court establishes no precedent.
“The legal and policy merits continue to be on the side of compliance with the Clean Power Plan,” he says, “and certainly the science and our moral obligation to confront climate couldn’t be more clear.”
The report also suggests reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas industry, speeding the transition away from fossil fuels, and embracing Ohio’s renewable energy and energy-efficiency standards. Szollosi says all would result in positive outcomes for wildlife.