|The debate over whether to drill
for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has centered on
a huge herd of caribou that live there. The Porcupine herd,
named for a river, breeds on a coastal plain that may hold
billions of barrels of oil. Chad Kister, the author of a new
book called "Arctic Quest," says the caribou have nowhere else
"And it's the only place that they have, because
the coastal plain is surrounded on one side by the Arctic
Ocean and the other side by the jagged peaks of the Brooks
mountain range, and they only have the narrow strip of
coastal plain in which to breed."
The oil industry contends that it will use only a small
part of the coastal plain. But Kister says roads, pipelines
and airstrips will disrupt the whole area. And he says oil
operations around nearby Prudhoe Bay prove the point.
"There used to be 17 percent of the central
Arctic caribou herd that used the Prudhoe Bay region for
breeding. Now it's only one percent. And the caribou need to
move in order to survive. In addition to migrating almost a
thousand miles twice a year, they also move on average more
than 20 miles a day because they have to get away from
Kister says a single caribou can lose several pints of
blood each day to Alaska's swarming mosquitoes, so they have
to keep moving.
"Roads and pipelines hinder this movement.
Caribou tend to avoid developed areas and lose a lot more
blood from mosquito bites because it keeps them from moving
to escape the mosquitoes."
Kister says that can harm the health of the caribou. And he
says it illustrates how development can disrupt wildlife in