Mascot Madness!

March Madness has begun at last, which means people will be getting excited and using the word “bracket” outside of home improvement stores. All the teams have creative mascots, most often named after a fierce animal or other creature from the team’s locale — except my Minutemen, of course. They are named after something else entirely.

But some of these mascots are in trouble, and not just on the court. Out in the world, the issues these animals face are real, whether from climate change, pollution or habitat loss. Check out this terrific report from National Wildlife Federation on the issue.

The Canada lynx  relies on deep snow cover to hunt, but if that snow retreats north, so too will it the lynx. We’d hate if the only places to find this wildcat became on the logos for teams like New Hampshire, Villanova and Kentucky.

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Although, I have more faith in the population of falcon’s recovery than Air Force’s. Photo via USFWS

The peregrine falcon made a comeback in recent years because of conservation efforts, and was removed from the endangered species list by the Service. But the Air Force Academy’s mascot could face trouble down the road as changing precipitation patterns can cause chicks to drown in their nests due to extreme rain events.

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Without some serious changes to how we treat our world, black ducks like this guy could disappear after overhunting and habitat lost take their toll. Photo via USFWS

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While not endangered, black bears could be a rarity in the lower 48 as global temperatures rise. Photo via USFWS

While Oregon’s Fighting Ducks may hold their own on the court, black ducks face problems from development as they migrate along the Atlantic Flyway. Sea-level rise is also a primary threat in the Chesapeake Bay area where many black ducks winter. The black duck population declined significantly since the 1950’s, though their populations have been stable for nearly 25 years since hunting bag limits were reduced.

While there is a healthy population of black bears here in the Northeast, climate change-related impacts like drought and other extreme weather events put bears and other species in jeopardy.

With so much important habitat located near the coast in the northeast corridor, climate change and sea-level rise pose a serious threat to wildlife populations and their habitats. So while you’re rooting for your home team to go all the way in climbing the bracket these next few weeks, take a moment to root for wildlife to too, because with our help, these species may be able to adapt to a changing climate and world.

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