Impact of Climate Change on Wildlife

Climate change and how it affects wildlife dominated discussion at last week’s Association of Fish and Wildlife Agency’s (AFWA) annual conference, themed “The Changing Climate of Wildlife Management.” AFWA is the primary professional organization for state and federal fish and game agencies in North America, and a number of state program leaders and division directors from throughout the U.S. attended to provide input and learn more about climate change issues.

The opening general session focused on “state agency responses to the challenges of climate change impacts for fish and wildlife resources.” This featured a keynote address by the U.S. Geological Survey chief scientist for global climate change research, summarizing recent research findings and facts. Panel presentations by state agency wildlife researchers and directors followed, with titles like “Global Warming Impacts on Big Game Winter Habitat” and “Trout in a Warming Environment: No Kitchen Door” and “Climate change and the Future of Wildlife in North America: Where do we go from here?”

Solutions and options to address climate change range far beyond the arena of wildlife conservation, such as emission control and more fuel-efficient, cleaner-burning cars. But some options do connect directly with natural resource professionals and have relevance for wildlife managers, such as carbon sequestration and reforestation. For more information, see the AFWA Web site (

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