Kaska Elders’ Perception of Environmental Change
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Vegetation change can be driven by recurrent disturbances, such as wild fire, landslips and avalanches, which are recognized by Kaska. Other changes may be driven by climatic change and shifts in weather extremes. All Elders agreed the long periods of extreme cold they experienced in their youth no longer occur. Kaska Elders in the Southern Yukon have also been observing shifts in the timing of seasonal changes, the seasonal growth of plants and the fruiting of the berries in response to climate change, and in response to industrial activities. Elders noted an increase in the variability of the weather from year to year and season to season, making prediction of environmental conditions difficult. This variability also affects the animals. Diminishing song bird abundance was particularly noted, and may relate either to global climate change or to pervasive changes and loss of habitat in the environments where these birds winter.