Heat, drought and wildfires are ravaging western wildlife while conservationists try to help ecosystems adapt
By Brianna Randall – Conservation, Aug 02, 2022
Dead mussels lie along the Pacific shore of Vancouver, British Columbia, during 2021’s summer heat wave. Scientists estimate that the record-breaking heat killed more than 1 billion marine animals off the coasts of British Columbia and Washington state.
(Photo by Christopher Harley/University of British Columbia)
GASPING SALMON WITH INFECTED LESIONS. Emaciated deer searching sagebrush flats for water. Clams and mussels boiled to death in their shells. Last summer, temperatures in the Northwest soared to record highs in the triple digits, killing more than 1 billion marine animals in the Salish Sea and stressing wildlife from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains. Simultaneously, ongoing drought in the Southwest—which began in 2000 and is the region’s driest 22-year period in 1,200 years—is causing plants to wither, springs to dry up and wildfires to engulf entire landscapes.