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Polar bears naturepl.com / Steven Kazlowski / WWF
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Protect Polar Bears from Seismic Testing

In 2017, Congress approved opening parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to allow for oil and gas drilling. The first step of that process involves seismic testing along the coastal plain to help determine the location of deposits of oil and gas, a very disruptive activity that may disturb denning polar bears—exposing them to extreme elements and risking their survival.

Sign our letter to the Department of Interior asking them to refrain from issuing permits for seismic testing in this region.

To Joe Balash, Assistant Sec. for Land and Minerals Management
cc: Greg Siekaniec, Regional Dir. for US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region
Ted Murphy, Regional Dir. for Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Region


I understand that the US Government is currently considering whether and how to allow a company, SAExploration, to conduct seismic testing on the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Because of climate change-related loss of sea ice and the den-friendly topography of the region, the coastal plain increasingly has become prime polar bear denning habitat for the threatened Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear population.

The polar bears living in the region where the seismic testing will be conducted—the southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation—are already showing signs that the shrinking of their sea ice habitat is taking a toll on them. In 2010, biologists estimated that this subpopulation of polar bears had declined by about 40% in the previous decade due to the significant loss of Arctic sea ice. Female body condition had worsened and cub survival had declined. Although there has not been a new population survey since then, the sea ice continues to decline, which means the bears are losing their habitat. This is not a time to be adding more stressors to these bears.

Seismic testing is a loud and disruptive industrial activity that is not compatible with a wildlife refuge, especially when the very equipment used in this activity appears certain to disturb bears in their winter dens. The longer a polar bear cub stays in its den, the more weight it gains. Disturbing a mother bear and provoking her to leave early could result in harm, or even mortality, to the cub.

Given the lack of adequate measures to detect bears in their dens, there is even a significant risk that an undetected bear den may be crushed, with potentially fatal consequences for the denning polar bear and her cub.

I ask you to refrain from issuing permits or other authorizations for seismic testing that will put polar bears in greater jeopardy than they are currently in due to climate change and disappearing Arctic sea ice habitat.

[Your Name]

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Protect Polar Bears from Seismic Testing

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[Your Name]