Open Spaces : Maine

Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of November 28th

The weather may be getting colder, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything to do outside! Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week.  As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find a Wildlife Refuge near you!

Let's go outside!

First Snow at SunsetThe season's first snow at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, ND on Nov. 7, 2011

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Self-Discovery and Solitude in the Wilderness

Monica Patel is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wilderness Fellow who worked this year at Great Swamp and Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuges in New Jersey and Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. She has a master’s degree in environmental management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University  

What does “wilderness” mean to you?  You’ve got to love this answer, credited to a 16th-century European settler:  

a “dark and dismal place where all manner of wild beasts dash about uncooked.” 

In recent decades, most of us have grown more appreciative of the country’s last remaining wild places.

Lately, I have been thinking about how I view wilderness. It all started with a hike into the woods.

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Maine: Rising Temperatures and Declining Snowfall Spell Trouble for Canada Lynx

A Canada lynx prowling in snow

If snow cover decreases in Maine, the lynx may lose its competitive advantage over other predators. Photo: USFWS.

Photo iconPhotos: See photos from the Canada lynx den study

Video iconVideo: Biologists studying lynx dens in Maine

Canada lynx are uniquely suited for the rigors of life in snowy northern Maine. The furry feline’s thick coat, long, lean legs and massive paws allow it to hunt atop snowpack like a cat on snowshoes. But with temperatures predicted to rise in the coming years, the deep snow cover that the lynx depends on may be significantly reduced, eliminating its competitive advantage over other predators.

While the historic range of Canada lynx used to extend throughout much of the northern United States and the Rockies, today the cat is confined to handful of northern states. Northern Maine currently supports the only viable lynx population in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially listed Canada lynx as a threatened species in 13 states in 2000. As a federally threatened species whose range has already been greatly diminished, this rare wildcat faces a grave threat in climate change.

“It is hypothesized that as the climate warms, the lynx range will recede and move north,” said John Organ, chief of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration for the Service in the Northeast Region. “Without significant snow cover, Maine’s lynx population could be in jeopardy.”

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Last updated: June 21, 2012