Arctic wildlife gains and losses

This is a 2016 Arctic wildlife video.

This is another Arctic wildlife video, about Alaska.

From Associated Press:

03/18/2010 12:00 CDT

Arctic animals doing better, but not close to pole

By Seth Borenstein

WASHINGTON — The overall number of animals in the Arctic has increased over the past 40 years ago, according to a new international study. But those who live closest to the North Pole are disappearing.

The report by the United Nations and other groups released Wednesday at a conference in Miami concludes that birds, mammals and fish have increased by about 16 percent since 1970. That’s mostly because of decades-old hunting restrictions. The number of geese have about doubled. Marine mammals, such as certain whales, are also rebounding.

The biggest improvement was in the lower regions of the Artic, where the number of animals, especially those that live in the water, are up about 46 percent.

However, scientists aren’t celebrating the increase. Species in what is called the High Arctic dropped by a quarter between 1970 and 2004. North American caribou are down about one-third.

Pro caribou petition: here.

“What we’re seeing is that there’s winners and losers with rapid changes in the Arctic,” said Mike Gill, a Canadian government researcher and study co-author. He’s chairman of the international Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, which organized the study.

Study author Louise McRae, a conservation biologist at the Zoological Society of London, said the drop in the High Arctic was most worrisome. That is ‘s because that region is the area where global warming occurs fastest and is projected to worsen, so the pressure on species will only increase, she added.

There’s not enough evidence yet to blame global warming for the loss of species, but what is happening, is “largely in line with what would be predicted with climate change,” Gill said.

The area with the biggest losses also has sea ice shrinking faster than predicted, and species like polar bears and whales called narwhals are dependent on sea ice, the report said.

The study compared how species were doing in the Arctic parts of three oceans. Species living in the Arctic portion of the Pacific Ocean were doing far better than they used to, while those in the northern parts of the Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean were not changed much over time, the report said.

Animals doing better include bowhead whales, white-tailed eagles, and the Atlantic Puffin. Those doing worse include the Atlantic cod, lemmings, the brown bear and the polar bear in the western Hudson Bay. The data on polar bears elsewhere isn’t good enough to make any conclusions.

See also here.

How Will Climate Change Affect Arctic Migrations? Here.

Polar bear evolution and climate: here.

Zoologger: Lemmings swap suicide for infanticide: here.

January 2012. The world’s largest reindeer herd has plummeted in size, with local indigenous people blaming the spread of massive industrial projects in the area. The George River herd, which once numbered 8-900,000 animals, stands today at just 74,000 – a drop of up to 92%: here.

2 thoughts on “Arctic wildlife gains and losses

  1. On December 6, 2010, the Arctic Refuge will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Thankfully, the American people have successfully defended this last true wilderness refuge from Big Oil’s attacks for 50 years.

    Tell Congress to wake up: the American people have spoken. Let’s finally protect the Arctic Refuge for good!

    Bob Fertik
    Alaska Wilderness League

    The recent decision by the federal government to open up new areas for offshore drilling proves that no area is safe until real protections are in place. After 50 years, the Arctic Refuge deserves protection.

    Let’s protect the Arctic Refuge for good!

    The Arctic is alive – and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is its biological heart.

    In the summer, the Arctic Refuge breathes in life. Animals from near and far gather here, seeking refuge from a world of encroaching hazards to receive their most sacred needs – sustenance and safe harbor for bearing their young.

    In the winter, the Refuge exhales and Arctic life ventures out across the plains, oceans and skies of all 50 states and six continents – enduring great travails until returning here once more to renew the cycle of life. The Refuge is a natural wonder that must be protected.

    Honor Arctic life with us by calling on lawmakers to finally protect the Arctic Refuge for good.

    America’s Arctic is our last true wilderness refuge. Big mammals still roam this land, flowers line the banks of free-flowing rivers, and millions of the world’s birds feed and nest here. When Arctic birds embark on their seasonal migrations, they travel in “flyways” that surround Americans with Arctic life, soaring over our homes and visiting our gardens.

    On December 6, 2010, the Arctic Refuge will celebrate its 50th anniversary. This is both a cause for celebration and a cause for action. Big Oil wants to impose the worst of human destruction on these purest of natural lands. By summer, we’ll likely be bombarded with their perverse rallying cry: ‘Drill, baby, drill!’

    The American people have protected the Arctic Refuge for 50 years. Let’s tell our representatives in Washington that the people have spoken. At long last, the Refuge deserves protection.

    Tell Washington to wake up: Americans don’t want Arctic drilling. Let’s protect the Arctic Refuge for good!

    Let’s make sure that the Arctic Refuge is a gift that we pass on to our children and our grandchildren.

    Thank you for all that you do,

    Cindy Shogan
    Executive Director
    Alaska Wilderness League


  2. Each spring, a herd of almost half a million caribou travels hundreds of miles north to western Arctic Alaska. These iconic northern creatures have another name you may know them by – reindeer. In their sheltered summer home, caribou moms calve and nurse their young. Cooling, coastal breezes keep ravenous insects away, and wolves, bears, and other predators rarely venture this far from the foothills.

    Without this safe haven, few of the newborn calves would survive. In this currently remote and undeveloped landscape, caribou movements through foothills and migratory bird populations in coastal wetlands represent our country’s last, greatest wildlife spectacle.

    Right now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is deciding how to manage 23 million acres of Arctic Alaskan lands that caribou calves need. They’re giving the public a brief window of time to weigh in on their top proposals, including one that will protect caribou and other wildlife, such as migrating birds, while allowing for responsible oil development. This gives us an amazing opportunity to help them make the right choice.

    Protect caribou and other Arctic wildlife! Submit your comment now, and we’ll deliver it to the Bureau of Land Management by June 1.

    If we don’t act now, companies will be allowed to develop in key regions – Utukok and Teshekpuk – where Alaska’s largest herd of caribou give birth. Baby caribou will be displaced from their safe calving grounds – and into grave danger. That same development would attract more nest predators and disrupt the coastal wetlands international nursery of migratory birds.

    These 23 million acres of terrain in Arctic Alaska make up the largest public landscape in the United States – and one of our most precious wild places. In addition to hosting caribou that journey hundreds of miles each year to their traditional calving grounds, the region draws millions of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds to nest each spring. WCS has been working in western Arctic Alaska for more than a decade to study and protect this huge array of breathtaking wildlife.

    As the BLM considers several proposals for what to do with the land, one of their top choices is a smart, workable plan we are excited to stand behind as it balances areas for development with key protection from development in the most important areas for wildlife. In addition to our commitment to saving the region’s precious wildlife, we have a concrete proposal for how to develop its natural resources, too.

    This is the best proposal for wildlife conservation in the western Arctic. It protects the coastal plain around Teshekpuk Lake – home of millions of migratory birds that come from all over the planet, and tens of thousands of caribou – and the Utukok Uplands, a landscape rich in caribou (the largest herd) and their natural predators – wolves, grizzlies, and wolverines.

    We have to speak out if we want to protect majestic herds of caribou and other extraordinary wildlife – but the public comment period will close quickly.

    Help the Bureau of Land Management make the right decision – and save caribou and other Arctic wildlife. Submit your comment by June 1!

    If we want caribou to survive, it’s clear we need to step in to protect them. Thank you so much for speaking out on their behalf.


    John F. Calvelli
    Executive Vice President, Public Affairs
    Wildlife Conservation Society


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