North America’s most valuable resource is at risk

The Great Lakes helped make the U.S. an economic powerhouse. Now climate change, pollution, and invasive species threaten their complex ecosystems.

LAKE MICHIGAN

Floodwater pours over a walkway at Montrose Beach near downtown Chicago. In the first half of 2019, heavy rains raised the lake level by almost two feet. Scientists expect the frequency of extreme weather to increase across the region in the decades ahead.

For the Anishinaabe, hunting has never been a sport, and life is never taken lightly.

So when the big bull moose approached Tom Morriseau Borg, he felt a mix of gratitude, awe, and humility: The moose was offering itself, a gift of life and meat from the forest that Borg would share with family and friends. Borg, a traditional Anishinaabe trapper, grew up near Lake Nipigon in western Ontario in a home without electricity or running water. The Anishinaabe have fished, hunted, and trapped there for centuries, and after Borg shot the moose, he sprinkled tobacco on the animal and whispered some prayers of thanks, just as his grandfather had taught him.

But as he dressed the carcass—cutting it up to bring home—Borg’s gratitude gave way to revulsion. When he tried to extract the liver, which should have been firm and meaty, it deliquesced into a bloody sludge, sliding goopily through his fingers. Since that hunt, Borg has found similarly diseased livers in several animals. “I notice it in rabbits, beavers, and in partridges,” he said. “The favorite part of the rabbit for me was the rib cage, with the heart and the liver. But now we don’t eat that anymore.”

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