To the editor:
Bears, deer, mice ... all attracted to human neighbors' food supplies. It has been an unusual year, and I have read and heard several explanations for the raids. Summer drought is the biggest reason given - no berries for animals to eat and fatten up on during the summer growing season. That's not the correct cause!
I don't keep a journal, but I am a very keen observer of nature, and here is what I remember. We had a very mild and almost snowless winter in Saranac Lake and in mid-April went into a three-week super-warm spell of 70- and 80-degree weather. Trees and shrubs began to bud and begin the growing season nearly a month ahead of normal. Then the weather reversed, and we had three nights of temps in the teens - a killing frost.
I noticed later what the cost was. Our yard has ash, maple, birch and black cherry trees. There were few live flowers on the red maples or the ash trees, and we saw few, if any, seeds in our yard compared to other years. In our favorite berry-picking sites, it was the same - no raspberries or blueberries in any abundance. Even in the fall, the sugar maples and paper birch produced few or no seeds. The flowers had all been frozen. There were a lot more leaves because the trees could put their energy into making wood instead of making fruit.
There was very little high-value food for wildlife this year, and everything is hurting. Deer mice started to invade the house in mid-summer - a normal mid-December occurrence. Even in town, the deer look skinny and the birds are ravenous. Raccoons are raiding everything, including the grubs in our yard.
Climate change is the real cause. The climate in the Adirondacks is quite different from what I saw in the 1970s when we moved here. The weather is changing so fast that the vegetation and wildlife cannot adapt to it. Ups and downs of extreme proportions: rain, heat, drought and still some occasional low temps will confound the problem. It's going to get worse unless we do something about it.
Reducing the flow of fossil-fuel carbon into the atmosphere is the only answer to solving the problem. The big oil and coal companies are saturating the media with ads to make you think their products are great and safe. Please don't believe it. The country can slowly switch to wind and solar and high-efficiency transport and buildings, and start to solve the problem. Now.