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YCS Statement on the decision to open the Arctic Refuge to petroleum leases

The Yukon Conservation Society (YCS) is deeply concerned and extremely disappointed by the appalling recklessness of this decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior to move forward with petroleum leases in the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd.

Coral Voss, Executive Director of YCS observed: “The coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the 1002 lands, are absolutely critical to the survival of the Porcupine Caribou Herd as the herd’s central calving grounds. This herd is crucial to the survival of both the culture and communities of the Indigenous peoples of the region.”

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service statement reads, in part: “Pregnant caribou, and females with young calves, are especially sensitive to disturbances such as the presence of humans, vehicles and sounds.”[1]

Sebastian Jones, Wildlife Analyst with the Yukon Conservation Society, said: “Despite numerous interventions from Indigenous groups, conservation organizations and the general public pointing out the gaps and flaws in the Environmental Impact Statement produced by the U.S., the current administration has decided to proceed with the industrialization of this critical and pristine landscape.”

“I can think of no decision better designed to doom the only healthy Barren Ground Caribou herd left in Canada,” said Jones, “the fact that despite the impacts to Canada, there has been zero consultation with Canadians simply adds insult to injury.”

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[1] Cameron, R. D., W. T. Smith, R.G. White, and B. Griffith, B. 2002. The Central Arctic Caribou Herd. Pages 38-45 in D.C. Douglas, P.E. Reynolds, and E.B. Rhode, editors. Arctic Refuge coastal plain terrestrial wildlife research summaries. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Biological Science Report USGS/BRD/BSR-2002-0001

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