Warm temperatures in January have impact on wildlife in the area

WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) — Last month was the warmest January ever recorded on the globe. That's in the span of the 141 years of climate record keeping available.

An American Toad being taken care of at the Wildlife Center of Virginia because it's life style was disrupted due to the unusually warm weather. | Credit: The Wildlife Center of Virginia

Here in the Shenandoah Valley, wildlife have been struggling to make it through the season. This year's January was the 16th warmest for Dale Enterprise and the 20th warmest for Staunton.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia said animals like reptiles, amphibians and bears that typically go into a hibernation like-state in the winter wake up when it warms up outside. This disrupts their life cycles and expends their stored energy.

Because these animals' food sources are not as abundant as they normally would be when they wake up in the spring, they have a difficult time.

Warmer days can also have an impact on insects.

"Warm temperatures and warm days can lead to an increase of population of insects, which, statistically, can increase the likelihood of other animals and humans contracting West Nile Virus or Lyme Disease," Alex Wehrung, Outreach Coordinator for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, said.

Wehrung said winter months and colder weather are supposed to act as a reset for ecosystems, killing bacteria and diseases.

While the warm weather has a negative impact on many native wildlife species, it is not bad for all animals.

"So, those would be generalists, things like scavengers, maybe even invasive species that are well adapted to adapt well to a lot of different environments," Wehrung said.

These species thrive in the unusually warm weather because there is less competition for them to eat.

For more information, you can go to The Wildlife Center of Virginia's website.