Northern Ontario plants, animals try to adapt to warm November weather

It is mid-November, but it does not feel like it across much of northern Ontario.

'We don't know what the ramifications might be of these changes in the future,' says scientist

Photographer Gerry Kingsley's daughter on a walk in Sudbury's Laurentian Conservation area. (Gerry Kingsley)
It sure has been warm this fall across Northern Ontario. Most of us aren't too upset about it but it does have an impact on nature. Science North staff scientist Amy Henson joined us to talk about the effect of a warmer and longer fall season on nature. 7:34
It is mid-November, but it does not feel like it across much of northern Ontario.

The average daytime high for Sudbury this time of year is 2 C, while this week the mercury is expected to hit double digits. 

Science North staff scientist Amy Henson says she regularly hears from Sudburians who see signs of climate change in their backyards, including everything from leaves changing colours later to more black and gray squirrels, who used to only live in southern Ontario.

​"And I think people are really starting to connect what they're seeing every day with what's happening in our weather and what's happening in our climate," says Henson.

"There are all these different types of changes, now, the interesting thing is we don't know what the ramifications might be of these changes in the future."

With the warmer fall weather, bears are out scrounging for food longer before hibernation, which could lead to fewer cubs come spring time. (The Associated Press)

Other northerners have noticed leaves changing colour later, dandelions popping up in November and geese waiting longer and longer to fly south.

Wildlife biologist Joe Hamr, who also teaches at Laurentian University, says for black bears, the later fall means more time scrounging for food, leading to a shorter hibernation period, which could lead to fewer cubs in the spring.

"The change is coming really fast and it's probably hard for them to adapt," he says.

Hamr says after two summers without much to eat in the bush, northern Ontario's bear population could dip dramatically in the next few years. 

Road construction in Greater Sudbury has stretched longer into November than usual, meaning some projects will be finished this fall, instead of being completed in spring. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

A warmer autumn has also meant a longer construction season in Sudbury, where city construction manager Lee Laframboise is happy to finish off projects that would normally have to wait for spring.

"This extended warm weather allows us to get that little extra paving done and concrete work buttoned up before cold weather," says Laframboise, adding that one project that's gotten further this fall is the watermain and repaving work along Lorne and Gutcher streets in Sudbury's west end.

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