Most Important Arctic Wetlands and Corridors for Caribou and Migratory Birds Would be Conserved
Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar proposed a plan to preserve Arctic Alaska’s most important landscape for wildlife. The administration’s plan aims to balance conservation, subsistence rights for Alaska Natives, and energy development in this very environmentally sensitive area.i
The migratory corridor for caribou and birds runs through the coastal plain habitat around Teshekpuk Lake, and the foothills around the Utukok uplands. This area contains the most important Arctic wetlands for the animals and birds.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said it supports the administration’s announcement, and WCS President and CEO, Dr. Cristian Samper, said, “Our conservation science has consistently shown that wildlife in the NPR-A are best served by a development approach that balances wildlife protection and responsible oil and gas leasing. Western Arctic Alaska is arguably the most important region for wildlife in all the Arctic, which is why we consider today’s announcement by Secretary Salazar an important step in the right direction.”
After more than a decade of studing wildlife in Arctic Alaska, especially around Teshekpuk Lake, The Wildlife Conservation Society worked with the Bureau of Land Management to help create thi viable plan.
Dr. Samper said:
“Through the years, we have submitted comments on Draft Environmental Impact Statements and held a Congressional briefing in the U.S. Capitol featuring WCS conservationists Steve Zack and Joe Liebezeit with other conservation partners. We have also engaged the public on this subject, spurring 36,168 people through an online alert to submit comments to the Bureau of Land Management.”
“By keeping development and disturbance away from essential wildlife habitat, Arctic wildlife will continue to thrive. WCS studies have shown that human activities associated with development, such as the oilfields in Prudhoe Bay, negatively affect populations of nesting birds by attracting predators such as foxes, ravens and gulls.”
It is well documented that the Arctic wetlands around Teshekpuk Lake, the Utukok River Uplands, Kasegaluk Lagoon and other nearby areas are the world’s largest. The area is internationally important. Wildlife here includes massive numbers of waterfowl, shorebirds, loon, and other waterfowl. There are also caribou, polar bear, snowy owl, gyrfalcon, and many other species.
See The Wildlife Conservation Society WCS press release