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The Wildlife


The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is hardly a barren wasteland with "nothing there" as Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski claim. It is the polar opposite. Its snows blanket one of the most biologically productive regions on the planet. Once the long winter ends in June, its land, mountains, rivers and seas explode with life. Over the next four months a combination of continual sunlight, abundant plant growth, and rich nutrients generate an astonishing quantity and diversity of living things. This arctic coastal plain of the Refuge becomes the feeding and breeding grounds for over 180 species of resident and migratory birds, a herd of 130,000 caribou, all three species of North American bears, plus Dall sheep, muskox, weasels, lemmings, wolves, foxes, wolverine, and porcupine.

Live Wildly
Interested in protecting Alaska's wild animals? The Wildlife section of the Grassroots Action Toolkit has up-to-date information, links and tools for the wild at heart.

The millions of migratory birds that rely on the Arctic coastal habitat in the Refuge come from six continents and all fifty states. They include snowy owls, lapland longspurs, semipalmated plovers, raptors such as peregrine, gyrfalcons, and golden eagles, and many varieties of ducks and geese. Some birds feast on swarming insects and insect larvae; others, including hundreds of thousands of snow geese, devour the stems and bulbs of marshy plants before departing on migrations far across the globe.

Bowhead whales and 8 other species of marine mammal share the waters offshore together with salmon that carry the nutrients from the sea to distant rivers. 36 species of fish inhabit the lakes and rivers of the Refuge, while the land witnesses the migration of the fastest, farthest traveling mammal on Earth--the caribou. In an annual migration that compares to the astonishing wildlife spectacle of the Serengetti, the Porcupine caribou herd journeys twenty-five hundred miles from Canada to their calving grounds on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"Moving, lucid and aptly told, Oil on Ice
is quite simply the best documentary
to date on the [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] issue."

-Art Goodtimes The Telluride Watch



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