Polar Bears International

Arctic Refuge Wilderness Announcement

1/25/2015 5:36:18 PM

News to Celebrate: Obama Recommends Protection for Key Polar Bear Dennning Area

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain in Alaska is a spectacular, vast landscape that is home to almost 200 wildlife species, from vast herds of caribou to muskoxen and polar bears. In summer, it teems with millions of nesting birds, including tundra swans, eider ducks, and snowy owls.

Today, the White House recommended that this remarkable place be granted protection as a wilderness area. This is important news for polar bears because the coastal plain provides the bears with vital on-land denning sites. 

"The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge historically has the highest number of polar bear maternal dens in Alaska," says Geoff York, PBI's senior director of conservation. "In recent years, these shorelines have also seen increased numbers of polar bears resting in the summer as they wait for sea ice to return in the fall."

While PBI is not opposed to wise development, we understand that key places, such as the Arctic Refuge's coastal plain, should be set aside as wild areas. As polar bears' sea ice habitat shrinks, it is crucial that remaining denning and resting sites be protected. 

The proposed designation is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the refuge. The service prepares 15-year plans for every national wildlife refuge. The plans identify specific goals to achieve the purpose and vision of each refuge. These goals then guide their management for the next 15 years. 

President Obama has shown great leadership and commitment to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by being the first president to call for the strongest possible protection for the coastal plain.

You can thank the president and show your support for wilderness designation for the Arctic Refuge here

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