The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 7, 2014

Waning winter weather


He added that bald eagles and many mammals are especially feeling the affects.

“Eagles or anything else that survive on fish are having a tough time because the water is still very frozen,” Tomasovic said.

“(And) anything that’s an herbivore that would normally enjoy nice fresh greens around this time of year is still having to dig to find those, so that makes things a little more difficult for them.”

When those animals are unable to find food, it limits their source of energy and slows down phenology, the sequence in which things happen during a year for animals.

That sequence consists of migration, hibernation and reproductive times that are typically on a relatively normal schedule. However, with this winter continuing to alter the environment that schedule is slightly delayed.

But Tomasovic doesn’t anticipate that delay will make any drastic changes to the area’s wildlife population.

“Nature is pretty resilient and it doesn’t have a calendar so the shift won’t be too major,” he said.

One area of wildlife that will be disturbed because of the long, winter freeze of the Mississippi is that of the fish population -- nothing new to Tomasovic or the fish and wildlife refuge.

A “fish kill” is a common occurrence with the river’s freezing but because the area is strongly populated by fish there is little concern that it will significantly affect the river inhabitants.

“There are plenty of fish out there in plenty of locations so they always bounce back very well,” Tomasovic said. “Plus, the first thing the fish do when it starts to thaw is reproduce and fish have a lot of eggs.”

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