THE CALVING GROUNDS
Desert or Nursery of Life?
stands to be lost if oil development in the 1002 lands of the Alaska
Refuge goes ahead?
much if you believe pro-development Alaskan Senator Frank Murkowski,
who commonly refers to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
and the 1002 lands as a land of “snow and ice.” But
as the following list of attributes clearly shows, Murkowski’s
desert is an arctic eden for wildlife and birds. The Arctic Refuge
is, without a doubt, unparalleled in North America for the diversity
of habitats and abundance of wildlife that it hosts within its boundaries.
coastal plain (i.e. the 1002 lands) of the Refuge is the core
calving ground for the 123,000-member Porcupine Caribou Herd. It
offers energy-starved caribou cows and newborn calves three things
that are critical to their survival:
forage is unavailable elsewhere in their range at that time
from wolves and grizzly bears which tend to stay deeper in
the foothills and mountains; and
breezes off the Arctic Ocean ice that offer relief from insects.
coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the northernmost
destination of millions of birds from more than 130 species.
coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge comprises the most important
onshore denning habitat for the entire Beaufort Sea polar bear
wolverines, foxes, golden eagles, and snowy owls gather on the coastal
plain to hunt and den every year.