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Posts Tagged ‘Susanne Miller’

Where the Polar Bears Roam

Posted by Laurie Frost on June 23, 2009


It’s not yet noon and outside my window it’s closer to a 100 than to 90. What better time to stop over at the Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS] to have a look at their public domain pictures of polar bears? The FWS site features a digital library described as:

a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video and that are in the public domain. You are free to use them as you wish – no permission is necessary. We do ask that you please give credit to the photographer or creator and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in a format similar to the example below.

Credit: John Doe/USFWS

Items are added on a regular basis to the library, so if you don’t see something you are looking for today, it may have been added the next time you visit.

Most items in the National Digital Library are compressed RGB, JPEG, or PDF files. Most records have low resolution JPEGs that are suitable for web use. This is the display image at the top of the record. High-resolution images are linked below the display image…

Image categories include birds, wildlife, plants, invertebrates, fisheries, habitats, history, and more.

Susanne Miller photographed the polar bear family [above] and these two bears along the Beaufort Sea coast:


walkbeaufort sea

And where, you ask, is Beaufort Sea? It is way, way, up there. Perhaps this map of polar bear dens in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge will help:


More information about this map can be found here. And see that village at the top center of the map? That is Kaktovik. The Kaktovikmiut people despise the FWS radio-collaring of bears (and other animals) that provided the data for the map above. On the City of Kaktovik website a fascinating document, In This Place: A Guide to Those Who Would Work in the Country of the Kaktovikmiut, — and the website as well — declares in a most unusually blunt manner the perspective of the people whose homeland this is:

From the website:

The notion of wilderness came to the North Slope in the early 1950’s with its discovery by a small group of committed outdoor recreationists. With the publication of their view of our homelands in “The Last Great Wilderness” we disappeared, our homeland became something it had not been for thousands of years: devoid of people. Simultaneously, our homeland became the subject of great interest and concern to thousands, perhaps millions, of people who had never laid eyes on it and who in any case could not see that we continued to fully use and occupy the country.

And from In This Place, first on oil exploration, and then a comment on FWS biologists:

The thing that concerns us the most about this oil activity is that we are told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency we find most possessive, most insensitive, most destructive and most obnoxious, will be the one agency assigned to protect the country from harm should oil developmentproceed here. That would clearly be tragic, for us, for our lands and waters, and for the other creatures who share our country. We have no confidence in these people to care, to understand, to respect, or to protect anything here. . . .

We have enough stories about this to fill many books, of the damages done by people who come here to study things, such as the fellow with Fish and Wildlife Service who killed more polar bears figuring out how to radio-collar them than have ever been killed by all the industrial activity in the entire arctic since the beginning of time. His excuse was he had to figure out about polar bears before they were all killed by the oil industry.

The Kaktovikmiut are native Inupiat. Eskimo is a term commonly — but not accurately –used to refer to these natives of Alaska’s Arctic Coast.  The North Slope region referred to above is an 89,000 sq mile borough [NSB] bordered on the north by the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea, which also serves as western border, Canada to the east, and south to the Brooks [mountain] Range. Barrow and Prudhoe Bay are in the NSB, and Barrow is some 1300 miles south of the North Pole and 4,300 miles from Key West.

Yesterday’s high in Barrow was 35, with a low of 29.seaBeaufort Sea with Brooks Range in background

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