Walruses Abandon Ice for Alaska Shore

Thousands of walruses since late summer have congregated in haulouts on Alaska’s northwest shore, a phenomenon likely connected to record low Arctic sea ice.

Joel Garlich-Miller, a walrus expert with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in Anchorage, said Wednesday animals began showing up on shore in late July, a month earlier than usual. By August, several thousand animals—far more than normal—were bunched up in haulouts in a stretch of coastline from Barrow, America’s northernmost community, to Cape Lisburne, about 300 miles to the southwest on the Chukchi Sea.

“It’s raising a bunch of conservation issues for us,” Garlich-Miller said.

The agency’s immediate concern is that groups of walruses congregated on land are susceptible to additional human contact, whether a low- flying airplane or a hunter’s boat, that could can panic the group, setting off a deadly stampede to the water.

Source:  Associated Press

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