News & Notes

Protecting Wildlife in an Era of Climate Change

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
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Maine moose are currently suffering from winter tick infestations, which scientists attribute to warmer winter temperatures.

I became Maine Audubon’s executive director in late August. The past two months have been informative and productive. As I have become better acquainted with the staff, members and volunteers of the organization, I have begun to appreciate all the more the power of the Maine Audubon brand and the many contributions the organization is making to wildlife conservation—both within Maine and across the nation.

Through its conservation and education programs, Maine Audubon seeks to bring wildlife conservation to the forefront in the most critical debate facing our generation: how we can craft economically, socially and politically responsible strategies to mitigate climate change. Climate change impacts on Maine wildlife are undeniable.  Our seasons—the most evident measures of nature’s rhythms—are in flux, confounding the life cycles and migratory patterns of the flora and fauna that we associate with the Maine outdoor experience.

The effects of this change are apparent everywhere we look. Beyond the obvious changes – earlier ice-outs on our lakes and longer droughts – is a suite of wildlife impacts. Charismatic species like the Common Loon and moose face new burdens and bird species on our coasts, coastal plains and especially our forests, are experiencing changes in their food webs and habitat suitability. Although some of these disruptions will in the long run balance out, many portend irrecoverable habitat losses and corresponding population impacts –  impacts that will mean a different outdoor future for both Maine’s residents and the legions of people who come here to appreciate the eastern United State’s best place.

Rising sea levels will affect the Piping Plover's sandy beach habitat in southern Maine.

Rising sea levels will affect the Piping Plover’s sandy beach habitat in southern Maine.

I mention the subject of climate change not only to sound an alarm, but to introduce a new organizing principle for Maine Audubon’s conservation and education programs. As I write this, Maine Audubon is about to embark on a new strategic plan, one that will deliver new approaches calculated to deliver on the promise of Maine Audubon’s mission of conserving wildlife for everyone.

Central to that plan will be a bold vision, a vision that commits Maine Audubon to not just be the statewide environmental leader it already is, but to become a regional leader in wildlife conservation through education, citizen science, renewable energy demonstration projects and advocacy programs that mitigate climate change impacts and sustain an iconic natural heritage for future generations.

Although our mission will remain Maine-focused, we’re going to use our strengths—chiefly our reputation and our people—to seize new opportunities and extend our reach to engage people both within and outside the state. I will share the details of our new plan with you as it develops. So stay tuned.

I’m thrilled to be here at Maine Audubon and look forward to working with its many dedicated members and supporters.

Enjoy the rest of the fall season,

- Charles

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin started at Maine Audubon in 2014. Gauvin brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, much of it as the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading river and fish conservation organization.Gauvin most recently served as Chief Development Officer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. He collaborated with Carnegie scholars worldwide to develop program strategies and support in the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia.