Ice melt forces polar bears into paths of Alaska schoolchildren

 

Trevor Hughes5 hrs ago
 
File - In this Feb. 15, 2016 file photo, snow-covered mountains are seen behind the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. The massive Alaska ice field that feeds Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier, a tourist attraction viewed by hundreds of thousands each year, could be gone by 2200 if climate warming trends continue, according to a new University of Alaska Fairbanks study.© (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File) File – In this Feb. 15, 2016 file photo, snow-covered mountains are seen behind the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. The massive Alaska ice field that feeds Juneau’s…WALES, Alaska — Melting ice off the coast of far-west Alaska is forcing polar bears onto the land, dangerously close to villages where children often walk unaccompanied across the snow-swept tundra.In these isolated communities, fears of a fatal encounter between stressed predators and the towns’ most vulnerable members have forced residents into action: they now train for polar-bear patrols.”Our main concern is the kids,” says Clyde Oxereok, 57, who leads the patrol in Wales, the most western town in the mainland U.S.

The problem is a lack of ice. Each winter, the narrow strait between Russia and the United States melts faster.The ice that does form seems weaker, more susceptible to breaking up. While that’s opened up new areas for oil exploration and opportunities for shipping through the Northwest Passage, it’s also destroying the habitat of the polar bears who hunt seal from that ice.

 

“The weather has changed a lot, and it has made the animals change their behavior,” said Oxereok, a ninth-generation resident of Wales.

Bears on land are easily distracted by towns — and the easy food.

“When you’re out on the ice, everything is white, so anything that’s not, you’re going to check out,” says Elisabeth Kruger, Arctic program manager for the World Wildlife Fund.  “And anything that could be food, you’ll try it,” she says.

Walking back to the snowmobile that carried her out to the frozen edge of the Bering Strait, Kruger stops to point out fresh polar bear tracks. Sometime in the past few days, a large bear walked down the ice in a path that paralleled both the ice’s edge and the front of the town a mile away.

Village elders say while there are fewer polar bears living in the area, they’re near town more often.

That’s a terrifying thought. Polar bears can be 10-foot-tall, weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds and willing to tangle with whales and walruses.

Now, with Kruger’s help, residents in Wales have created the Kingikmiut Nanuuq Patrol to monitor polar bears near their homes. They’ve learned how to “haze” the bears away from town with shotgun-fired noisemakers and pepper spray.

There’s pretty much no one else to call on in Wales. The town lacks any routine law enforcement presence. An Alaska State Trooper flies in for a few hours every so often to check up on the residents.

Other tribal communities might simply kill and eat any polar bears that come into their village. Polar bears are protected by federal law, but Inupiat hunters like those in Wales are allowed to kill some polar bears to maintain their traditional

WALES, Alaska — Melting ice off the coast of far-west Alaska is forcing polar bears onto the land, dangerously close to villages where children often walk unaccompanied across the snow-swept tundra.
In these isolated communities, fears of a fatal encounter between stressed predators and the towns’ most vulnerable members have forced residents into action: they now train for polar-bear patrols.

“Our main concern is the kids,” says Clyde Oxereok, 57, who leads the patrol in Wales, the most western town in the mainland U.S.

The problem is a lack of ice. Each winter, the narrow strait between Russia and the United States melts faster.The ice that does form seems weaker, more susceptible to breaking up. While that’s opened up new areas for oil exploration and opportunities for shipping through the Northwest Passage, it’s also destroying the habitat of the polar bears who hunt seal from that ice.    
   

“The weather has changed a lot, and it has made the animals change their behavior,” said Oxereok, a ninth-generation resident of Wales.

Bears on land are easily distracted by towns — and the easy food.

“When you’re out on the ice, everything is white, so anything that’s not, you’re going to check out,” says Elisabeth Kruger, Arctic program manager for the World Wildlife Fund. “And anything that could be food, you’ll try it,” she says.

Walking back to the snowmobile that carried her out to the frozen edge of the Bering Strait, Kruger stops to point out fresh polar bear tracks. Sometime in the past few days, a large bear walked down the ice in a path that paralleled both the ice’s edge and the front of the town a mile away.

Village elders say while there are fewer polar bears living in the area, they’re near town more often.

That’s a terrifying thought. Polar bears can be 10-foot-tall, weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds and willing to tangle with whales and walruses.

Now, with Kruger’s help, residents in Wales have created the Kingikmiut Nanuuq Patrol to monitor polar bears near their homes. They’ve learned how to “haze” the bears away from town with shotgun-fired noisemakers and pepper spray.

There’s pretty much no one else to call on in Wales. The town lacks any routine law enforcement presence. An Alaska State Trooper flies in for a few hours every so often to check up on the residents.

Other tribal communities might simply kill and eat any polar bears that come into their village. Polar bears are protected by federal law, but Inupiat hunters like those in Wales are allowed to kill some polar bears to maintain their traditional way of life.

Sarah Palin does the Climate Hustle…

In case she hasn’t noticed, Alaska is seeing its share of climate changes

http://www.climatehustlemovie.com/

Scorching temperatures. Melting ice caps. Killer hurricanes and tornadoes. Disappearing polar bears. The end of civilization as we know it! Are emissions from our cars, factories, and farms causing catastrophic climate change? Is there a genuine scientific consensus? Or is man-made “global warming” an overheated environmental con job being used to push for increased government regulations and a new “Green” energy agenda?

CLIMATE HUSTLE will answer these questions, and many, many more. Produced in the one-of-a-kind entertaining and informative style that has made CFACT and Marc Morano’s award-winning ClimateDepot.com one of the world’s most sought after sources for reliable, hard-to-find facts about climate issues, this groundbreaking film will tear the cover off of global warming hype, and expose the myths and exaggerations of this multi-billion dollar issue.

CLIMATE HUSTLE will reveal the history of climate scares including global cooling; debunk outrageous claims about temperatures, extreme weather, and the so-called “consensus;” expose the increasingly shrill calls to “act immediately before it’s too late,” and in perhaps the film’s most important section, profile key scientists who used to believe in climate alarm but have since converted to skepticism.

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Alaska Voters Oppose Cruel Methods of Killing Wildlife on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2016/03/alaska-nwr-cruel-practices-030116.html?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

March 1, 2016

A new statewide poll by Remington Research Group shows that Alaska voters strongly support an end to cruel and unsporting practices used to kill bears, wolves and coyotes on the state’s National Wildlife Refuges.

On Jan. 8, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed changes to regulations governing non-subsistence hunting on Alaska National Wildlife Refuges. These changes are designed to uphold the purposes of the refuge system to conserve species and habitats in their natural diversity, and to ensure that the biological integrity, diversity and environmental health of the National Wildlife Refuge system benefits Americans now and into the future. Based upon this new poll, the majority of Alaska voters support such changes as it would end cruel methods of killing wildlife on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges.

The poll also shows that many oppose using bait, such as rotting meat and pet food, to lure bears to a hunting blind for a point blank kill and that, by a two to one margin, Alaska voters oppose the same-day aerial hunting of bears, or the shooting of bears from aircraft. Same-day hunting, in which aircraft are used to scout for animals, is already prohibited for wolves.

An overwhelming majority of Alaskans also oppose trapping of bears—a practice that involves steel-jawed, leg-hold traps or wire snares. The poll found voters, again by a margin of two to one, are firmly against killing black bears, wolves and coyotes, and oppose killing their cubs and pups, while in or near their dens.

“Alaska is home to some of our nation’s most iconic wildlife, and these animals deserve to be treasured and conserved for future generations, instead of subjected to cruel and unsporting trophy hunting and trapping methods,” said Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife for The Humane Society of the United States.

The telephone poll of 1,399 statewide Alaskan voters was conducted by Remington Research Group on behalf of The HSUS from Feb. 24 through Feb. 25, 2016. The margin of error is plus or minus three percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.

This could explain all those strange happenings in Alaska’s waters

Bears feeding on a fin whale carcass in Larson Bay, Alaska. Photo: NOAA© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post Bears feeding on a fin whale carcass in Larson Bay, Alaska. Photo: NOAA

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/this-could-explain-all-those-strange-happenings-in-alaska%e2%80%99s-waters/ar-BBpA0Cf?ocid=spartanntp

The Washington Post
by Ryan Schuessler

New research is shedding light on how far toxic algae blooms have spread in Alaska, and surprised scientists are saying this is just the beginning.

A study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest fisheries center found domoic acid and saxitoxin – algae-produced neurotoxins that are deadly in high doses — in 13 marine mammal species across Alaska, including as far north as the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Researchers say the study is just the latest piece of evidence that warming ocean temperatures are allowing these blooms to stretch into Arctic ecosystems, threatening marine life and the communities who rely on the sea to survive.

“The waters are warming, the sea ice is melting, and we are getting more light in those waters,” said Kathi Lefebvre, NOAA Fisheries research scientist. “Those conditions, without a doubt, are more favorable for algal growth. With that comes harmful algae.”

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Wikipedia

Learn more about algae blooms

The study, which analyzed more than 900 samples taken from stranded or harvested marine mammals in Alaska between 2004 and 2013, found algal toxins in all species sampled, including bowhead whales, fur seals and sea otters.

“We were surprised,” Lefebvre said. “We did not expect these toxins to be present in the food web in high enough levels to be detected in these predators.”

“There seems to be a potential risk for marine mammal health,” she added. “Then there’s also a seafood security risk, in that these communities rely on and depend on these animals for food.”

“I think that’s going to have a huge impact on the Native communities and coastal communities in Alaska,” said Bruce Wright, senior scientist for the Aleutian and Pribilof Island Association, the federally recognized tribal organization of Alaska’s indigenous Aleut citizens. “I think that we’re going to see a number of shifts in our ecosystem as a consequence of warming, and I think some species will be displaced by other species, and others will disappear. There [are] going to be consequences and people are going to have to adapt.”

NOAA’s new study, released last week, comes after months of strange marine life die offs in Alaska. Last year, NOAA declared the deaths of more than 30 whales in the Gulf of Alaska to be an unusual mortality event. Just last month, thousands of dead birds began washing ashore in Prince William Sound.

“I’m pretty sure that’s associated with these algal blooms,” Wright said of the bird die offs and other events. Toxic algal blooms in the region, particularly 2015’s, likely wipe out entire parts of the lower food chain, he added, the effects of which reverberate through the ecosystem.

A massive toxic algal bloom, believed the largest ever recorded, reaped havoc in the Pacific in 2015. Stretching from southern California north to the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea, it prompted the closure of recreational and commercial fisheries across the American and Canadian coastlines.

“It really does point out that there is a need for more monitoring,” Lefebvre said.

Increasingly warm waters in the north Pacific are believed to be behind other strange disease outbreaks as well. A recent study from the University of Puget Sound found that warmer waters in 2014 contributed to an epidemic of sea star wasting disease in the North Pacific, which decimated starfish populations in the north Pacific.

“My thought is, absolutely, the environment is changing very rapidly in Alaska,” Lefebvre said. “And it’s warming, and there are changes in fundamental parts of the ecosystem.”

She added: “And these ecosystems have developed over millions of years, so when they’re rapidly changing, the chances they’re going to be changed for the better, over all, are very slim.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/this-could-explain-all-those-strange-happenings-in-alaska%e2%80%99s-waters/ar-BBpA0Cf?ocid=spartanntp

Alaska Confirms Massive Decline in Rare Wolves, Still Plans to Hunt Them

Another harvest could do irreversible damage to the wolf population.

Alexander Archipelago wolf. (Photo: Facebook)
Jun 20, 2015
by Samantha Cowan

In 1994, southeast Alaska was home to about 300 Prince of Wales wolves, a subspecies of Alexander Archipelago wolves. By 2013, there were fewer than 250. Last year the population plummeted 60 percent to 89 wolves. New numbers confirm that the rare breed may have dropped to as few as 50.

But the diminishing numbers won’t stop hunters from trapping and killing the wolves, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is moving ahead with its 2015–2016 hunting and trapping season on Prince of Wales Island.

“Another open season of trapping and hunting could push these incredibly imperiled wolves over the edge,” Shaye Wolf, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

A reported 29 wolves were killed during last year’s hunting season—which accounts for between 33 and 58 percent of the population. Either figure means the species is in danger of being completely wiped out, especially as females were hit particularly hard this season…

More: http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/06/20/alaska-wolves

Help Close the Door on Risky Arctic Drilling

Walrus.jpg

From: Ocean Conservancy

Big news! Shell Oil announced that it is giving up its quest to drill for oil in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Shell’s retreat from the Arctic is a testament to all those who raised their voices in opposition to risky Arctic drilling. More importantly, Shell’s decision is great news for the bowhead whales, walruses, ice-dependent seals and other wildlife species that could have been devastated by an oil spill in this remote region.

But there’s still more work to do to protect Arctic waters from the threat of offshore drilling! In the coming months, the Obama Administration will decide whether to sell more oil leases in the Arctic Ocean. Let’s not go down that road again. Join Ocean Conservancy in calling on President Obama not to go forward with any new lease sales in the Arctic Ocean: https://secure.oceanconservancy.org/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=7440033D34B36417CC1EBCA579359C83.app261b?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1067&s_src=15WAXAXXXX&s_subsrc=15AADN10&AddInterest=2147

Walrus Slaughter in Alaska Raises Ivory Poaching Concerns

Sep 23, 2015 02:11 PM EDT

Pacific Walrus

25 walrus were found dead in Alaska. This raises concerns of poaching. (Photo : Flickr: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters)

A total of 25 walrus along an Alaskan beach were found decapitated. This large-scale slaughter prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate, and while the cause of death has not been determined, they believe it could be linked to the illegal ivory trade. Walrus tusks are made of ivory.

“We can’t say with any certainty what the cause of death here was. You know, these animals, from the photos, do appear to have their heads taken off, but we can’t make any assumptions that that’s why they were killed, if they were, in fact, killed,” Andrea Medeioros, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. “You know, people can take the heads if they find a dead walrus on the beach.”

Under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal to hunt walrus solely for their ivory and not their meat.

http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/16936/20150923/illegal-ivory-25-walrus-killed-alaska-raise-poaching-concerns.htm

700 Walrus Seen Near Shell Oil Rigs in Arctic as Obama Visits Alaska

 August 31, 2015 10:39 am 

James MacCracken, supervisory wildlife biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in an Aug. 28 press conference call, “We are getting reports from Shell daily” of walrus near the ships and rigs and the talley so far is “700 walrus” seen by observers. When asked if all operations around the walrus by Shell are within the guidelines set by Interior Department regulation, MacCracken said, “Yes.” This is the first confirmation that protected sea mammals are swimming through the Burger oil leases which Shell just got permission to deep drill. Observers, paid by Shell, are required by Shell’s permit to perform drilling and other activities which might disturb or injure sea mammals. More information to come on this.

First aerial views of thousands of Pacific walrus hauling out Aug. 23 on Alaska Arctic shore.  Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming
First aerial views of thousands of Pacific walrus hauling out Aug. 23 on Alaska Arctic shore. Small detail of telephoto image of 2015 haul out. Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming

The press conference was also the first direct acknowledgement by the U.S. agencies in charge of studying and protecting the mammals that a new haul out had begun—nearly a week after the event actually started and only three days before President Obama begins his tour of Alaska focusing on rapid climate change. Gary Braasch made the first photos of the haul out at about 7 p.m. on Aug. 23, after seeing on USGS maps of locations of geotagged walrus that several were stationary in the Point Lay area.

Thousands of Pacific walrus coming ashore in northwest Alaska as sea ice melts recedes from habitat. Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming
Thousands of Pacific walrus coming ashore in northwest Alaska as sea ice melts recedes from habitat. Photo credit: Gary Braasch / World View of Global Warming

Help protect the imperiled Archipelago wolf!‏

From http://www.Defenders.org

A rare and dramatically declining gray wolf subspecies in Alaska will face critical threats from hunting this year unless we act immediately.

The population of Archipelago wolves found on Prince of Wales Island, a remote island in southeast Alaska, has plummeted in recent years due to unsustainable old-growth logging and hunting. Despite this population crash, the federal government plans to allow subsistence hunting – a decision that may push the population to the edge of extinction.

The subsistence hunting season for Archipelago wolves on Prince of Wales Island will open on September 1st unless the Federal Subsistence Board cancels the hunt.

On Prince of Wales Island, roads built for old-growth logging are making it easier for hunters, trappers, and poachers to kill Archipelago wolves at an unsustainable rate. The Prince of Wales Island wolf population is now very low, perhaps only a few tens of wolves – down from an estimated 250 to 350 in the mid-1990s.

The start of hunting is just a few days away and could serve as a fatal blow to these embattled wolves.

Demand that the hunting of these rare wolves be stopped!

copyrighted wolf in water

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