Ruining the refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge threatened by oil drilling

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United States Geological Survey

A map of a northern section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reveals a large amount of land where oil is located.

Chloe Wolf, Asst. Editorial Editor

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, located in Alaska, is home to many species of wildlife and animals including polar bears, gray wolves, birds, oxen and caribou. The Trump administration made plans to start drilling for oil in the refuge before the president’s term was up. Petitions have been created and signed to prevent the destruction of wildlife.

As the ice in the arctic melts, polar bears are suffering due to the change in weather and are losing more of their habitat. Polar bears mainly use sea ice to catch and eat food. With sea ice melting, they need to take longer trips to get food and to go back to their dens. With longer trips, the polar bears need to fast but also spend energy for longer periods of time. In previous years when the climate started becoming warmer, polar bears could rely on many other different food sources, but they can no longer do that today. Programs like “adopting” a polar bear now exist to help donate money towards saving polar bears in general. Proceeds go to helping conservation efforts and donators are given gifts like stuffed animals in return for their “adoption kit.”

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is north of the Arctic Circle with no roads created within it. The Gwich’in people live in villages along the southern border of the refuge. Wildlife in the arctic has been suffering due to global warming melting the ice. Allowing the Trump administration to drill for oil would mean further harming the ecosystem by disturbing migration, taking away land and disturbing polar bears during their denning season. Drilling in the arctic has been debated for almost 40 years. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is legally protected land meant to preserve the natural wildlife within that region. Oil companies have been bidding and starting legal battles for years over leasing land within the refuge. The Trump administration attempted to hold a sale over a section of oil rich land. Kara Moriarty made a statement about the sale to Outside Online.

“Today’s sale reflects the brutal economic realities the oil and gas industry continues to face after the unprecedented events of 2020, coupled with ongoing regulatory uncertainty,” Kara Moriarty, president and CEO of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association said.

Signing petitions and donating money will help prevent the Trump administration from drilling within the refuge. Preventing oil drilling will allow the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to continue to be untouched land and keep the habitats of many animals such as polar bears safe. Allowing their homes to be destroyed will potentially make polar bears an endangered species. Polar bears are vulnerable due to climate change melting their dens; allowing the refuge to stay peaceful will help them to survive.