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Canadians have made their voices clear: There is no place for oil and gas extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
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Canadians have made their voices clear: There is no place for oil and gas extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

OTTAWA (Tuesday, June 19, 2018) — The Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Yukon Chapter (CPAWS Yukon) and Nature Canada together are making sure the U.S. Government knows there is no place for oil and gas extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Today is the final day of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s public scoping period in advance of its environmental review of oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Refuge. More than 12,000 Canadians have submitted comments and signatures to the U.S. Government, urging the cross-border impacts of oil and gas drilling be addressed. Every spring the longest land mammal migration on Earth takes place as the Porcupine caribou herd crosses the Yukon and Northwest Territories to give birth in the Arctic Refuge. The Trump administration’s push for oil and gas extraction would strike the heart of these calving grounds, which could have disastrous impacts on the health of the herd and on the Gwich'in communities that rely on caribou for their culture and livelihood.


Quotes: Dana Tizya-Tramm, Councilor, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation: “From a people that understands resources extremely well by living in the unforgiven environments and climates of the Arctic North, we see the unilateral development of the wellspring of Arctic ecosystems as a significant threat to indigenous peoples, the lands, animals, and our collective futures. It must be known to produce oil and gas from this area can only be done so by manipulating environmental law and trampling human, and indigenous rights.” Brook Brisson, Senior Staff Attorney at Trustees for Alaska: “Protecting the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge is of international importance. The Porcupine caribou herd migrates through Canada to return to the coastal plain in Alaska to calve and replenish themselves each year. Borders do not mean anything to their survival, but habitat and protected ecosystems do. American laws recognize the international importance of the wildlife in this region, and international agreements give Canadians an important voice in this process. We will ensure that the laws and agreements within and between our countries are upheld.” Chris Rider, Executive Director of CPAWS Yukon : “The impacts from oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge would not stop at the U.S. - Canada border. Drilling in the Porcupine caribou herd’s calving grounds could have devastating impacts across Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. It's critical that Canadian's stand with the Gwich'in and say no to drilling in the Arctic Refuge.” Graham Saul, Executive Director of Nature Canada: “It is critical we work alongside CPAWS Yukon and the Vuntut Gwitchin to ensure Canadian voices are included in this environmental review. Today’s submission of 12,000 Canadian signatures and comments is an incredible opportunity for Canadians to speak directly to the U.S. government about the serious and irreversible impact oil and gas development would have on one of the last, healthy barren-ground caribou herds on earth. It is Nature Canada’s mission to protect our wildlife areas and countless species that depend on this habitat. We have been doing this for more than 75 years and have helped protect more than 63 million acres of wildlife areas. Arctic Refuge Background The Arctic Refuge is home over 200 species of birds, which migrate to six continents and every state in the United States. The Arctic Refuge provides important habitat for polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves and wolverines. It was established by President Eisenhower in 1960 and expanded by President Carter in 1980. In 2017, a provision included in President Trump’s tax overhaul opened parts of the Refuge’s Coastal Plain to oil and gas development.
High-quality images of the Arctic Refuge available for media use: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/14m9LLrjivux_uTByUhEDJeatPPnN5g31        For comment please contact: Dana Tizya-Tramm Councilor, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (867) 333-4335 (cell) Adil Darvesh CPAWS Yukon 867-393-8080 x 9 adarvesh@cpawsyukon.org Janet Weichel McKenzie Nature Canada (613) 808-4642 (cell) jweichelmckenze@gmail.com
 

Killer Whales in the Canadian Arctic – A New Force to Contend With
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Killer Whales in the Canadian Arctic – A New Force to Contend With

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="150"]becka-tulips Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Known as “aarluk” in Inuktitut, the Killer Whale (Orcinus Orca) is featured as Nature Canada's calendar photo for March 2018.

About the Killer Whale

One of the world’s largest animals, the Orca belongs to the Dolphin family (Delphinidae). Males can reach ten metres in length and 22,000 kilograms in weight. Females are smaller, but still considerable, at 8.5 metres long and 7,500 kilograms. Highly intelligent and distinctive for its black and white colouration, these magnificent creatures are also deadly. Poised at the top of the oceanic food chain, they are carnivores whose diet is often geographic and population specific. The Killer Whale’s menu could be fish heavy—such as salmon, herring, and tuna—or comprise larger marine life, such as seals, sea lions, penguins, sharks, and other whales and porpoises. Extremely social, Orcas live (and hunt) in matriarchal family pods typically comprising five to fifty whales and use echolocation to communicate. [caption id="attachment_35651" align="alignright" width="384"] A Killer Whale surfaces in the Strait of Georgia. Image courtesy of Gary Sutton.[/caption] Killer Whales are distributed throughout the world, from the polar ice caps to the tropics near the Equator. In Canadian waters, there are noted populations in the northern Pacific along British Columbia, and, though less commonly, in the Atlantic and Arctic regions. In recent years, however, this has begun to change, as sea ice both recedes and occurs for shorter times each year.

Heading North and Staying There

One consequence of increasing melting and retreating ice and the growing unpredictability of ice formation schedules is the change in roaming patterns of Killer Whales, who now venture into far northern waters where they previously did not. Killer Whales typically avoid ice because of their high dorsal fins. With the loss of year-round sea ice in the Arctic, however, these cetaceans, once largely absent from the region, are now both spending more time there and going to areas that were formerly inaccessible due to permanent or seasonal ice cover. For example, Killer Whale sightings, once rare in Hudson Bay, have been reported not only during summer months but in winter as well. Up north, the whales can miscalculate when the water will freeze and become trapped in ice, like what happened near the small northern Quebec village of Inukjuak in January 2013. A pod of a dozen Orcas became stuck, stranded in an opening of water just ten feet wide in northeastern Hudson Bay. Visibly stressed, the whales thrashed and took frantic turns surfacing for oxygen. Fortunately for them, the weather changed, causing the ice to break, and they were able to escape. The incident called attention to the shifting patterns of Arctic freezing due to climate change. [caption id="attachment_35657" align="alignleft" width="300"] A pod of narwhals in northern Canada, August 2005. Image courtesy of Kristin Laidre.[/caption]

The Orca Effect on the Arctic Ecosystem

Killer Whales in the Arctic are also disrupting the region’s fragile existing ecosystem. The disturbance of Narwhals is one such documented effect. Narwhals, nicknamed “sea unicorns” for the prominent tusks seen on males, are shy, wary whales who have been difficult to study due to the remoteness of their chosen habitats—two of three recognized populations of Narwhals live in Canadian Arctic waters, with the third occurring in eastern Greenland. A 2017 study demonstrated that the presence of Killer Whales drastically alters the behavior and distribution of Narwhals. Narwhals will move to and remain closer to the shore when Killer Whales are nearby, rightfully fearful and frazzled by the predator in the midst. Killer Whales, who hunt in packs, will try to push Narwhals into deeper waters and then encircle their panicked prey. By moving to shallower waters to flee Killer Whales, Narwhals become farther from the abundant stocks of fish that they eat. Additionally, staying closer to shore makes them more vulnerable to hunters. With Narwhals an important food source for the Inuit, the encroachment of Killer Whales into the Arctic also increases the competition for limited food sources. In addition to the Narwhal, Killer Whales in the Arctic are also preying on Beluga Whales and Bowhead Whales. With receding sea ice and continuing climate change, Killer Whales are poised to become a major Arctic predator to contend with. Today scientists continue to monitor Killer Whales and their impact on the Arctic marine environment. One tool that has proven particularly useful is questioning the local Inuit who directly observe these whales’ behaviors and interactions in the Arctic every day. Known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), scientists combine these firsthand observations and cultural knowledge accrued over generations with their research to help form a clearer picture of Orcas in the Arctic. Acknowledgments: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, NOAA Fisheries, RCI, Science Daily
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The Magnificent Snowy Owl
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The Magnificent Snowy Owl

It glided toward me in perfect silence, ghostly and powerful, back-lit by the sun and almost invisible against the backdrop of the winter-white field near that lonely train station. Its eyes bright and yellow - the hunter was scanning the stubble in the field for unwary mice or squirrels.


[caption id="attachment_23299" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Valerie Assinewe Valerie Assinewe,
Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Valerie Assinewe. Anyone who has seen a Snowy Owl will always remember the sight. The owl's bright, piercing yellow eyes and snow-white feathers make for a striking impression, and due to elusive nature, catching a glimpse of a Snowy Owl is a truly unique experience. Despite being so easily recognizable, there are many of us that aren't as familiar with the Snowy Owl as we may believe. Here are a few facts on this magnificent species: Where do they live? The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiaca) is a bird of the high Arctic tundra, always found in proximity to its food sources. Although a large number of these owls stay in their northern range during the winter, some migrate into southern Canada. What do they look like? The Snowy Owls have a rounded head with no ear tufts. Their eyes are a piercing yellow and the bill is black.  It is the largest bird in the Arctic. Adults weigh 1.6-2.9 kg and are 52-71 cm long with a wingspan of 126-145 cm: interestingly, the female is larger than the male.Image of a Snowy Owl Young male owls get whiter as they age. Some adult males are completely white, while others retain small flecks of black and brown on the body and wings. Females are darker than males, with dusky spotting, and never become totally white. On the ground they appear bulky because the legs and feet are covered with feathers. What do they eat? The Snowy Owl is a carnivore, and its diet is typically small mammals. It prefers lemmings when these are available, but also preys on ground squirrels, hares, rabbits, and voles. They hunt birds such as ducks, geese, grebes, murrelets and songbirds. They eat fish and even carrion. How do they reproduce? Snowy Owls usually breed between May and September. Breeding pairs may form on the wintering grounds, or as the adults arrive in the Arctic. Nests with optimal visibility are on the ground, often built on mounds or boulders. Depending on the prey availability, the clutch size can be 3-16 eggs; if food is scarce, the owls may not breed that year. The eggs are incubated by the female for 31-33 days, during which the male provides her food. The young leave the nest after 2-3 weeks, but they are not able to fly well until ~7 weeks. The young are fed by the parents for up to 9-10 weeks, until they are able to hunt for themselves. Captive Snowy Owls have lived up to 28 years, but those in the wild have an average life span of 10 years.  Interesting stuff
  • The Snowy Owl was selected in 1987 as the official bird of Quebec, a symbol of the province’s support for wildlife protection.
  • Unlike other owls, the Snowy Owl hunts during the day, the species’ adaptation to the 24 hours of daylight during summer months in the Arctic.
  • The Snowy Owl is a sit-and-wait hunter. Look for it perched on a rise or high area near open ground, where it will watch and listen for prey. They will also seek prey by flying low to the ground. Its sharp talons usually ensure a quick and successful end to the pursuit.
  • Wolves and Arctic Foxes are the main threat to Snowy Owls. These and other predators endanger egg and hatchling survival.

The Snowy Owl is not considered endangered under the Canada’s Species at Risk Act.  In 2017, however, the International Union for Conservation of Nature uplisted the Snowy Owl to “vulnerable” status. The IUCN speculates that the declining population may be attributable to the effect of warming temperatures on prey availability: lemmings are especially sensitive to temperature changes because they depend on deep, fluffy and thick layers of insulating snow to breed successfully. Though I treasure the memory of my Snowy Owl encounter, their southern wintering unfortunately exposes them to greater danger of collisions with vehicles and other infrastructure. Join Nature Canada in supporting conservation efforts to protect the Snowy Owl and its habitat, and help ensure that your children have the opportunity for a magic moment - a glimpse of a Snowy Owl in free flight.

Easter in the Arctic
Arctic Hare resting in the tundra
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Easter in the Arctic

[caption id="attachment_26918" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Blair Scott Blair Scott,
Professional Writing Intern[/caption] Blog written by professional writing interns Blair Scott and Amanda Simard. Image of an Arctic HareHow much do we really know about the Easter Bunny? Is it a bunny at all? Meet the Arctic Hare! You will find this hardy, little creature frolicking in the snow and bouncing about the tundra. One glance at this adorable, white ball of fur may well leave you wondering: Is the Easter bunny actually an Arctic Hare? In Canada, the Arctic Hare (Lepus arcticus) is found in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. During the winter, these hares are white. Come spring, their fur changes to a blue-gray or brownish colour, though hares found in the northernmost part of the range do stay white all year long. When it comes to its habitat, the Arctic Hare is adaptable. That said, it prefers a dry environment over moist or marshy areas, and it tends to avoid deep snow. You are also more likely to spot an Arctic Hare resting on the open tundra-terrain than lounging under the trees. The Arctic Hare is well-adapted to the cold and it doesn’t hibernate in the winter. Though the climate is milder in the spring and summer, this hare weathers even the harshest winter temperatures of the Canadian tundra. Numerous adaptations are responsible for its remarkable resilience. These include: [one_third] image of an Arctic Hare[/one_third] [two_third_last]

  • A thick fur coat, which provides both warmth and camouflage (blending with the winter snow or spring vegetation)
  • Shortened ears – the compact size taking up less space and conserving body heat
  • A tendency to stay grouped in herds, which offers some protection against predators
  • Their speed – they can bounce at a rate up to 60 km/h and as far 2.1 m in one launch
  • Their 360° view, thanks to their sharp peripheral vision
  • Their instinct to point their gaze upwards while resting or foraging on a hill.
  • Their large back feet, which act like snowshoes, keeping them on the surface of the snow
  • Their fast maturity from birth – Arctic Hares mature in size a couple of months after they are born and they can reproduce a year later
  • Their ability to find and dig up food in the snow thanks to their strong sense of smell – their diet consisting of woody plants, mosses, lichens, buds, berries, leaves, roots and bark [/two_third_last]This Easter, as you ponder just who hid those chocolate eggs, take a look out the window and see if you spot an Arctic Hare! Who knows? With their resilience to winter temperatures, they just might pop down south once a year to leave behind tasty treats!
Which rabbit or hare species make up your top “Easter Bunny” candidates? Let us know it the comments, or share pictures on Facebook or Twitter of the long-eared creatures visiting your backyard!
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Good news for Arctic marine ecosystems
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Good news for Arctic marine ecosystems

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Congratulations to Prime Minister Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama for agreeing yesterday to ban offshore drilling in the Arctic! Trudeau declared a five-year ban on new licensing in all Arctic waters, with a review based on climate and marine science at the end of that period. Obama used the little-known Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to withdraw hundreds of millions of acres of federal land in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean from new offshore oil and gas drilling. It is increasingly clear that the risk of catastrophic spills from Arctic oil drilling and tanker traffic is unacceptably high given dangerous sea ice, unpredictable weather, and the lack of emergency response capability near drilling sites and tanker routes. These decisions represent significant steps toward protecting the Arctic’s unique ecosystems. Trudeau and Obama also committed to phasing down the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, which should also contribute to the sustainability of Arctic Indigenous communities as well as reduce the risk of harm to whales, polar bears and shorebirds from a tanker spill.

[button link="http://naturecanada.ca/write-a-letter-to-the-editor/" size="large" target="_self" color="red" lightbox="false"]Share this great news and how important this decision is by sending a letter to your local editor![/button]

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The Different Types of Ice
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The Different Types of Ice

With the opportunity to participate in IceWatch this month, we decided we want to know more about ice! Ice seems to be simply a state of water, however many do not know that there are different types of ice. These ice types are known as the phases in which the ice is in. Depending on the age, ice can vary in salinity, roughness, and the overall strength. The phases of ice range from I to XVI (1 to 16). These phases describe the characteristics of the ice itself, explaining the chemical structure of the ice and at what temperature they are formed. For example, Ice IX is when the ice is in a tetragonal metastable phase. This ice is formed from Ice III cooling from 208 K (-65.15 °C) to 165 K (-108.15 °C) and it has a density that is slightly higher than ordinary ice. Ice cubesThese phases make up ice that we see in our daily lives, like the ice we see in our freezer is actually ice IV! These phases of ice also are found throughout icebergs, ice sheets, and glaciers. To learn more about ice and how you can start to monitor it, join our IceWatch program.   For more information on all sixteen types of ice, click here and here.

Video: Polar Bears Need Sea Ice to Survive
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Video: Polar Bears Need Sea Ice to Survive

Wow. This powerful video will keep you watching until the very end. Polar Bears need sea ice to survive and it's harder and harder to find with their habitat under threat. [video type="youtube" id="hYM4ndcV4Uo"] [h/t: iflscience.com]

From Toxic By-product to Recycled Material: Mine Waste as a Revenue Stream
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From Toxic By-product to Recycled Material: Mine Waste as a Revenue Stream

[two_third]Tailings ponds are also the safest way to get rid of the unwanted, useless by-product of economic development and prosperity. Guest blogger José Luis Gutiérrez-García shares his experience of working in the mining industry in the Canadian arctic. He explores an interesting alternative to storing mine waste in natural or man-made containment ponds that has had success in an Arizona mine. Whoever has been to the Arctic can tell you that it is a wild place. Some southerners love it while others want nothing to do with it. I spent time hiking the tundra and flying over it, admiring it from helicopters and small planes while I was working as a geological technician for a gold mining operation. Mining gold and many other subsurface resources generates a lot of waste rock (called “overburden”) and ore/mineral processing waste. It’s no minor task to figure out where to put all of this waste. What about under water? In mining terminology, water bodies either constructed or selected from natural deposits to become underwater storage for toxic waste rock are called “ponds,” Tailings Ponds. Let’s go back to the Arctic for a moment. First, if you have never been to the Arctic, let me tell you, as far as the eye can see, there are countless bodies of water. Based on my experience, that abundance leads most of  the people with a mining mindset i.e. miners, geologists, engineers, and government officials, to think of water bodies as expendable. From their perspective, there is no reason to bother constructing a man-made tailings pond. Why question taking all the fish out of their native lake and moving them elsewhere so you can  use the lake as a dump for disposing of pulverized waste rock generated from ore processing? Using a natural water body for tailings disposal is not completely without consequence or oversight. Under the current federal  Metal Mining Effluent Regulations, companies are required to do an assessment of tailings disposal alternatives, in addition to proposing plans for fish habitat compensation. Notwithstanding, there are several detailed studies, some even done by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) scientists, suggesting that current fish habitat compensation practices are not effective . The operation at which I worked is so remote in the far north, nobody is going to miss a particular lake. Not even the Inuit Government of Nunavut. You in the south will never even know it ever existed. Depending on the metal extraction method for a given project, tailings may contain arsenic and other substances, in larger or smaller amounts, that are nevertheless poisonous to humans and animals, as well as harmful to the local environment. Most mining experts would tell you that tailings ponds are one of the most environmentally friendly methods currently known to the industry to stop toxic, contaminant-laden tailings from becoming airborne or leaching what is called acid rock drainage. And remember, tailings ponds can be man-made or created using natural water bodies. Tailings ponds created from natural water bodies are the most economical method of waste elimination; even after factoring in the disposal costs for a lifetime program of post-closure monitoring for leaks, effluent quality, leaching, or release of metals from underground workings. This perspective is what I call ‘mining reality’. It’s how most of the people in the mining industry justify the practices of using lakes as dumps. To them, the people who disagree with metal mining companies converting natural water bodies into ‘impoundment areas’ for toxic mine tailings do not understand chemistry, logistics, economics, extraction methodology, return on investment or job creation. They are out of touch with reality, mining reality. Not only are they out of touch, but they’re also hypocrites. We all need the gadgets, toys and technology that would not be available if it were not for mining the materials to make the products that work for us; medical equipment, transportation, communication, computers. None of these things would be possible without mining, and metal mining often means tailings ponds – and affordable metals mean more cost-effective mines. In order to prosper and succeed, tailings dumps are inevitable, just like casualties of war. Who cares about wasting a few lakes when people need jobs? Tailings ponds really do mean jobs; for  northerners, southerners, easterners, westerners and everyone in between working at any metal mine; and in these difficult economic times, who is going to say no to a job? Any job, including long-term lake dump monitoring. In human reality, we are living in the year 2012, the 21st century, when technological innovation is advancing exponentially and industries the world over are increasingly environmentally conscious in an increasingly ecological market. So, with all these breakthroughs in technology, what if mine tailings could stop being an economic loss to the mine? What if they could stop contaminating effluent waters and lakes, creating major disposal costs, environmental impacts and corporate image problems? What if, instead, they became a cost effective resource, and a revenue stream? That wouldn’t make sense. Not in the mining model and mindset of business-as-usual anyway. So how about from a harmonic, eco-effective, integrated, holistic approach? Now mining is about blasting and extracting resources in an efficient manner for the most profit. Harmonic, Eco-effective, Integrated, Holistic; those words on their own don’t make sense when talking about mining. Let alone when they are strung altogether. Eco-effective, Integrated, Holistic. In mining? I think it’s possible. And this is how I can see it happening: Eco-effective sustainable design in mine planning could incorporate mills, workshops, and offices powered by renewable energy cogeneration and certified as LEED, BREAM or equivalent. Mining camps could operate as eco-lodges and have recycling and upcycling initiatives and facilities. Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value . Upcycling is an emerging, small, disaggregated industry that is full of innovation and is growing fast. It is upgrading a waste item to something better that can be used or sold for a profit. Wait a moment – mining waste could be turned into something valuable? The answer is yes, under the right circumstances. How does that happen? I’ll answer that question in detail in a follow-up post tomorrow, so stay tuned! José Luis Gutiérrez-García has worked and lived in tree planting, logging, mineral exploration, oil well, and mining camps for over 15 years experiencing their evolution first hand. Mr. Gutiérrez-García has a Master Certificate in Corporate and Environmental Sustainability from the University of San Francisco. In 2010, José Luis was recognized for successfully identifying cost savings and process improvement opportunities. In 2011, José Luis held the Chair of the Sustainability Committee for a remote gold mining operation in the Canadian Arctic. Contact José Luis at upcycle.the.gyres@gmail.com [/two_third] [one_third_last] jose luis G_artctic lake An arctic water body by José Luis Gutiérrez-García tailings_david_dodge_150w Tailings pond by David Dodge jose luis G. nunavut José Luis Gutiérrez-García in Nunavut. [/one_third_last]

Polar Bear Roams Parliament Hill on Weekend
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Polar Bear Roams Parliament Hill on Weekend

[three_fourth]There was a polar bear roaming Parliament Hill this weekend! But while there were certainly a lot of people -- and dogs -- who were surprised at the sight, it was all for a good cause: raising awareness this Earth Day about the plight of the world's largest land predator.
Inside the polar bear costume -- yes, of course it wasn't a real bear -- was Dr. Karen Ewing, a physician who travelled all the way from Economy, Nova Scotia with her stepdaughter Marlee. Together with Susan Russell, a lawyer and friend from Chicago, the women spoke with families and other visitors about the dramatic changes, caused in large part by global warming, that are taking place in the Arctic, threatening the survival of this spectacular species.
Global warming is melting the polar ice caps, robbing the bears of the ice floes they need to hunt prey. As the annual sea ice melts, polar bears are forced ashore to spend their summers fasting. If the Arctic ice cap continues to melt sooner and form later, polar bears will become too thin to reproduce. According to University of Alberta researcher Andrw Derocher, females are 30 to 40 kilograms lighter than they were in the early 1980s. And they’re producing fewer cubs. While Karen operated the life-like bear costume, made by Puppet Farm Arts and complete with levers to manipulate the front paws and face, Susan and Marlee handed out postcards, books and bookmarks with information about the polar bear. They were also encouraging people to sign Nature Canada's petition calling for action to reduce the effects of climate change on polar bear habitat. A big thank you to Karen, Marlee and Susan for your volunteer efforts and for spreading the word! Check out these photos. [/three_fourth][one_fourth_last]Image of polar bear mascot [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Image of people with the polar bear masot Marlee, Karen (in costume) and Susan on Parliament Hill, Ottawa[/caption] Image of the polar bear mascot [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Image of a dog sniffing the polar bear mascot Dogs didn't know what to make of the bear![/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="240"]Image of books on polar bears Books, sticksers, bookmarks raise awareness[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Image of polar bear information posters Karen's displays tell the polar bear's story[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="320"]Image of polar bear information posters Thanks for telling people about our petition Karen![/caption] [/one_fourth_last]

Yukon Researcher Raises Alarm Over Arctic Keystone Species, the Ptarmigan
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Yukon Researcher Raises Alarm Over Arctic Keystone Species, the Ptarmigan

Some alarming news is coming from researchers at Yukon College:

For the past 40 years, the population size of the Willow Ptarmigan has been predictable until recently. The current expected cycle of the Willow Ptarmigan in the Yukon has disappeared, alarming scientists around the world about what the disappearance might mean to the entire ecosystem.
“An ecological community will collapse without a healthy keystone species and the Yukon’s arctic tundra is built upon the 10 year cycle of the Ptarmigan”, said biologist Dave Mossop of Yukon College, who has spent many years in the field counting Willow Ptarmigan in the arctic tundra. The 10 year cycle charts the natural rise and fall of the population of the herbivorous birds, which in turn affects the population of their predators. “The Ptarmigan survey results are frightening – the numbers suggest that we have lost the last cycle and when their population numbers should be increasing, they are decreasing”, explained Mossop. Since 2000, population peaks within the cycle seem to be disappearing which may be bad news for predators in this ecosystem. More on the Yukon College Web site.

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