CLIMATE SCIENCE PORTAL CLIMATE SCIENCE 101
How are Increased Temperatures impacting the Wabanaki?
Nearly 60% of tribal households practice mixed (contemporary-traditional) subsistence lifestyles that involve hunting, fishing and harvesting culturally important species as well as wage labor in the larger economy (Houser et al., 2001). The overall increase in temperatures in the State has posed many problems with subsistence harvesting.
Source: Donald Soctomah, Nearly 60% of tribal households practice mixed (contemporary-traditional) subsistence lifestyles that involve hunting, fishing and harvesting culturally important species. - Wabanaki anglers flyfishing in Grand Lake Stream.
The presence of leaves on the trees late in the fall impeded the annual bird hunting season in 2015, by making it difficult for hunters to be able to see and observe the birds adequately for harvest. Likewise, moose hunters have expressed concerns about moose being inactive and the meat spoiling before they can adequately process the animal due to warmer temperatures. During the winter months, harvesters have been unable to access timber resources as a result of ‘winter harvest ground,’ the formation of muddy conditions due to early snow cover that prevents adequate freezing of the forest floor.
Seasonal cycles have been very unpredictable and many Native harvesters find it difficult to utilize local TEK during these emerging conditions of climate changes. There are observations of summer weather patterns getting longer and winter patterns getting shorter. For instance at Indian Township in Princeton, Maine, lake ice historically formed in October with ice outs in May. Presently, there is often no ice on the lakes until December, with ice out in April. Warmer temperatures have made it difficult for subsistence harvesters to use the lake ice for transport by snowmobiles and sleds to distant harvesting areas because of increasingly unstable and potentially dangerous thin ice conditions.
Warmer temperatures have made it difficult for subsistence harvesters to use the lake ice for transport by snowmobiles and sleds to distant harvesting areas because of increasingly unstable and potentially dangerous thin ice conditions. This chart shows smoothed lines of ice-out dates over time for the eight lakes in New England with the longest periods of record. The top four lines represent lakes in northern and western Maine and the bottom four lines represent lakes in southern Maine.
Source: Historical Changes in Lake Ice-Out Dates as Indicators of Climate Change inNew England, 1850-2000 U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey,
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