Thunder Bay

Warming Lake Superior stresses wildlife, observers say

A new report says fish and wildlife in the Lake Superior basin face a looming climate crisis.

A new report says fish and wildlife in the Lake Superior basin face a looming climate crisis.

The National Wildlife Federation in the U.S. says radical change is ahead for the world’s largest freshwater lake because it's heating up rapidly. The overarching theme of the report, called "Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis," is that climate change is the biggest threat wildlife will face this century. 

Melinda Koslow of the US-based National Wildlife Federation says radical change is coming to fish and game in the Lake Superior region because of global warming. (Supplied)

High temperature records for Superior were shattered last year, said Wildlife Federation spokesperson Melinda Koslow.

And that's bad news for native trout, which thrive in cold water. 

"With the warming water temperatures, we're noticing the sea lamprey are starting to do a little better and are getting bigger," she said.

"They are living a little longer and that has impacts on our fish that are trying to survive in an already stressed environment."

The effect on land-based wildlife will be just as profound, she added. Species like moose are poorly suited to a warmer world.

"What's interesting about moose is they generally try to stay in the same range," Koslow said.

"They don't tend to migrate as eaily, so they can't escape the impacts of the warming temperature and the impacts of the disease they are getting because of the higher tick population."

Koslow said the impact of recent warming trends cannot be reversed; however, reducing greenhouse gases now and protecting habitat will help prevent future harm.


  • An earlier version of this story stated that it's too late to prevent the harmful changes for fish and wildlife around Lake Superior from climate change.
    Feb 26, 1970 3:24 AM ET