Nature Canada

No Drilling in the Arctic Refuge, President Trump!

For nearly 80 years, Nature Canada has been an active voice standing up for nature. Over this time, we protected over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today is no different. Nature Canada is collaborating with Indigenous groups and nature and environmental allies in the U.S and Canada to oppose all oil and gas activities on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic Refuge) in Alaska.

June 19, 2018 is the last day of the Trump administration’s 60-day comment period on an environmental review of selling drilling leases in the Arctic  Refuge. The U.S Bureau of Land Management recently released a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environment Impact Statement for the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program. This decision will affect both Americans and Canadians.

Porcupine Caribou at Blow River Crossing.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the calving ground to the vast Porcupine caribou herd, which migrates back and forth from Yukon and the Northwest Territories in Canada to Alaska every year—the world’s longest migration of land mammals. It is also home to the people of Gwich’in First Nation who call the land “lizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” meaning “The Scared Place Where Life Begins.” The Porcupine caribou are a symbol of hope for many and an integral part of this northern ecosystem. When they when arrive on the coastal plain, adult female caribou (called cows) are in their weakest state. They go through “synchronous calving” meaning they give birth at the same time as a survival strategy. After birth, the cows depend on the coastal plain’s protein-rich food to produce milk. The caribou are incredibly sensitive to disturbance and construction on the land could upset their feeding, breeding and migratory habits and could lead them to abandon their calving grounds.

Indigenous communities in the Yukon, NWT and Alaska, along with many other Canadians, oppose oil and gas drilling that will disturb the calving grounds. Drilling poses a threat to the subsistence and culture of these Indigenous people and the wildlife, animals and plants they rely on.

Dana Tizya-Tramm, Councilor, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation commented: “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.”

“Nature Canada believes 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 over 14,670 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.”


We would like to remind decision-makers that this is also a deeply Canadian issue and we will continue to stand up against oil and gas development on lands that serve as the beating heart of an ancient ecosystem.  We would like to thank our nearly 15,000 members and supporters for signing, commenting and engaging with us to voice your concerns against oil and gas extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Nature Canada stands with the Gwich’in First Nation and supports the efforts of indigenous people in Canada and the United States to protect their human rights, food security, irreplaceable wild lands, wildlife and our climate. We also call for the Environmental Impact Statement to address international treaty obligations of the United States to Canada under the International Porcupine Caribou Treaty and the Migratory Birds Treaty.

Nature Canada and its supporters stand alongside 24 allies to strengthen the chorus of concerns to protect ANWAR garnering over 654,787 individual comments in total from all groups. 

Please read Nature Canada’s Letter of Submission to the US Bureau of Land Management.

Visit CPAWS Yukon website for further information on the Porcupine Caribou and their migratory journey, and read the Group Thank You Letter to the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act Leaders,the Cosponsor Arctic Cultural Coastal Plain Protection Act from 25 environmental organizations, as well as the Scoping Comments to the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS.

For media coverage on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, see below

CTV: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S. Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary
National Post: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S. Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary
Winnipeg Free Press: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S. Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary
Vancouver Courier: Canadians sign letter opposing U.S Arctic drilling in wildlife sanctuary

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