BY PAUL J.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The story of the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge began more than
a half-century ago, with a group
of conservationists who worried
about the loss of wild places to
development, the spread of pollution and pesticides, and even the
threat of an atomic bomb. In the
1950s, a group led by Olaus and
Margaret Murie launched a seven-year campaign to create a unique
ecosystem-scale conservation area.
And they succeeded. On December 6, 1960, the Arctic National
Wildlife Range was established for
the purpose of “preserving unique
wildlife, wilderness and recreational values.” In 1980 the Alaska
National Interest Lands Conservation Act enlarged the area, designating much of the original range
as “wilderness” under the 1964
Wilderness Act and renaming the
vast area the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Today, the 19.2-million-acre
refuge supports the largest array of
plant and animal life of any park or
refuge in the circumpolar Arctic.
The 50th anniversary of the Arctic NWR has been celebrated in
Alaska all this year and will extend
across the United States in the coming year. Source:
Duck Numbers Doing Fairly Well
Last summer, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and the
Canadian Wildlife Service
released their midcontinent
waterfowl and habitat survey
covering more than two million
square miles over the north-central and northeastern United
States; south-central, eastern, and
northern Canada; and Alaska.
The intent was to estimate the
number of waterfowl on the continent’s primary nesting grounds.
The results seem promising.
The total duck population was
estimated to be nearly 41 million birds— 21 percent above the
long-term average (1955–2009).
Right now, these birds should
be well on their way southward,
stopping at locations in southern
Canada and the Lower 48. The
numbers should be significant.
Two issues of concern persist,
however: A few species (
including northern pintail and American
black duck) showed dips below
their long-term average, and the
oil situation on the Gulf Coast portends a rough welcome for species
heading in that direction.
fws.gov/migratory-birds, where you can access a full
report on last summer’s breeding