Monday, January 31, 2011

Opossums and Global Warming

This Opossum was at the Springbrook bird feeders yesterday morning.  First one seen this winter during the day. I saw one at my home feeders this morning. It must be the time of year for Opossums to venture out.

30 years ago there were no opossums at Springbrook or anywhere north of Minneapolis.  The winters were too cold for them to survive.  Their northward movement is one of the best examples of the impact of Global warming on wildlife that we can immediately see in this area.

Notice the pink nose, pink toes, and thin ears with no fur.  The tail also has no fur.

Ears, toes, tails, and noses with no protection freeze in really cold winters, and the attached opossum generally dies without them.  So, how cold it gets determines how far north opossums can live.

I took this picture of an opossum near Hartford, Connecticut nearly 37 years ago.  Time hasn't changed their looks, but climate change has expanded their range.  Hartford is about 41.5 degrees north latitude and Minneapolis is about 44.5.  The three degrees difference is about 200 miles.

If this expansion keeps up opossums will be in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness raiding my campsite in my lifetime!  Displacing wildlife that I enjoy, so long as they don't get into my food sack!

And, climate change is not something that responds quickly (in human measures) to turning around.  So get ready you folks up north, along with warmer winters, you also get opossums!!

I think it will be a tough go for eco-tourism to successfully replace polar bears with opossums.  Hope they don't have to.

No comments:

Post a Comment