Arctic Refuge Calving and Post-Calving Grounds

For the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the 1002 Lands are critical calving, post-calving, and insect relief habitat.

The 1002 Lands are used by the caribou for about one a month, but this month is the most critical of the whole year and will determine how many calves will join the herd.

The following animation shows how cow caribou from across the range all come to the 1002 Lands each year.

Proposed Development

The Alaskan Bureau of Land Management has begun the process of implementing an oil and gas leasing program within the 1002 Lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, where the herd’s calves are born.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. However, Section 1002 of the Act deferred a decision on whether or not to allow oil and gas exploration and development on 1.5 million acres in the coastal plain. Since then, the “1002 Lands” have been a focus of debate between those interested in seeing it developed and those who wish to ensure its protection.

For the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the 1002 lands are critical calving, post-calving, and insect-relief habitat.

In 2017, the Republican-controlled House and Senate included a budget provision that requires over half (800,000 acres) of 1002 Lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. It passed both the

Senate and House of Representatives and President Trump signed it into law.

An Environmental Impact Study (EIS) has been posted on Alaska's Bureau of Land Management’s website, and official public comments can be submitted between December 28, 2018 and February 11, 2019. Please see How You Can Help for information about submitting meaningful comments.

All Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement (PCMA) Parties have unanimously agreed that development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could have a significant detrimental effect it will have on the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and that consideration must be given to Indigenous Peoples’ subsistence, way of life, and well-being.

PCMB Response to Notice of Intent

> Porcupine Caribou Management Board (pdf)

PCMA Parties' Responses to Notice of Intent

> News Release – BLM extends comment period to March 13, 2019 (pdf)
> Government of Canada request re EIS comment period extension (pdf)
> Government of Canada (pdf)
> Government of Northwest Territories (pdf)
> Gwichin Tribal Council (pdf)
> Inuvialuit Game Council (pdf)
> Tr'ondek Hwech'in (pdf)
> Vuntut Gwitchin Government (pdf)
> Yukon Government (pdf)

PCMB Submission on Draft EIS

> Porcupine Caribou Management Board submission with Appendix (.pdf)

PCMA Parties' Submissions on Draft EIS

> Government of Canada submission (pdf)
> Government of Yukon cover letter (pdf)
> Government of Yukon submission (pdf)
> Government of Northwest Territories submission (pdf)
> Inuvialuit Game Council, Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Wildlife Management Advisory Council (Northwest Territories), and Fisheries Joint Management Committee submission (pdf)
> Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in submission (pdf)
> Gwich’in Tribal Council submission (pdf)
> Gwich’in Tribal Council current knowledge and gaps assessment (pdf)
> Vuntut Gwitchin Government submission (pdf)

PCMB Comments on FINAL EIS

> PCMB comments to BLM on Final EIS (pdf)

PCMA Parties' Comments on FINAL EIS

> VGG letter to BLM on Final EIS (pdf)
> Government of Canada comments on Final EIS (pdf)

PCMB's Role

Because of the dependence of caribou on its habitat, the PCMB’s mandate includes making recommendations of measures to ensure the conservation and protection of habitat related to specific projects, plans or activities which may impede, delay or disrupt Porcupine Caribou movements, affect behavioural patterns or reduce productivity. The Board may also identify sensitive habitat areas requiring special protection and recommend measures to protect such areas.

The Chair of the PCMB is a member of the International Porcupine Caribou Board (IPCB).

The IPCB was established in 1987, when the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on the Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd was signed. The international agreement outlines protocols for conservation and management of the Porcupine Caribou herd.

The International Agreement notes the importance of conserving the habitat of the Porcupine Caribou herd, including such areas as calving, post-calving, and migration routes. It also states that activities that would significantly disrupt migration or other important behaviour patterns should be avoided or minimized.

The complete international agreement can be viewed here.

Scientific Information

Parties to the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement in Canada have worked together to prepare a science-based reply to the BLM’s Environmental Impact Statement. This report and a related FAQ document are available here.

> Vulnerability analysis of the Porcupine Caribou Herd to potential development of the 1002 lands in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (pdf)

> FAQs – The Porcupine Caribou and Development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (pdf)

Additional useful scientific papers will be added to the section below.

Likely impacts of proposed 3D-seismic surveys to the terrain, permafrost, hydrology, and vegetation in the 1002 Area, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program

The Final EIS was released on September 12, 2019. Click the following link to view the documents: Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing EIS

Parties to the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement will be reviewing the documents over the coming weeks to determine to what extent their scientific and socio-economic concerns have been addressed.

Resources & Links

This section is provided as a communication hub to share information and links related to the of the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

> CPAWS Yukon response to Draft EIS (.pdf)
> The Arctic Refuge coalition's technical comments on the DEIS (.pdf)
> National Wildlife Refuge Association Response to Notice of Intent (pdf)
> CPAWS Yukon Response to Notice of Intent (pdf)
> Canada's Position (pdf)

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Yukon Chapter – take action page
In addition to submitting comments directly to the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska, you may wish to sign CPAWS letter regarding protection of the Arctic Refuge.

The Sacred Place Where Life Begins A short film about the importance of the the Arctic Refuge

See the Scars That Oil Exploration Cut Across Alaska’s Wilderness - The New York Times

Proposed oil exploration plan would put polar bear population at an unacceptable risk – The Hill

Ecological Impacts of Road- and Aircraft-Based Access to Oil Infrastructure - Audubon Alaska
A synthesis of literature and series of recommendations regarding oil and gas development on Alaska’s North Slope.

International bank Barclays will likely reject opportunities to finance oil and gas drilling in the Arctic – The Hill

For Gwich’in people, Arctic drilling poses a threat to caribou and culture - The Globe and Mail

It’s time to stand with the Gwich’in – Trustees for Alaska
Alaskans can speak out as Interior takes first step in rushed environmental review process

'Our lives are at stake': Gwich'in fight to protect caribou at biennial gathering – CBC News

Gwich’in, allies vow resistance as U.S. readies ANWR drilling leases – Yukon News

Join the Migration – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society gallery of Porcupine Caribou migration

Sign the pledge to defend the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge!

Sign on to public comment letter for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – Sponsored by Alaska Wilderness League

Tests for Oil in Arctic Refuge Won’t Happen This Winter, Officials Say – New York Times

Interior Department Moves Toward Selling Oil Leases in Arctic Refuge – New York Times

In the Blink of an Eye, a Hunt for Oil Threatens Pristine Alaska – New York Times

See the Scars That Oil Exploration Cut Across Alaska’s Wilderness – New York Times

Here's What Oil Drilling Looks Like in the Arctic Refuge, 30 Years Later – New York Times