OIL AND BIRDS DON'T MIX
OIL DRILLING IN THE ARCTIC REFUGE WOULD PUT ONE MILLION BIRDS AT RISK The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is America's only intact and fully functioning wilderness ecosystem with a full complement of Arctic and subarctic birdlife. Millions of migratory birds representing 135 species nest, migrate through, and overwinter in the refuge's coastal plain, between the rugged Brooks Range mountains and the ice-bound Beaufort Sea. Their migrations take them to backyards, birdfeeders, parks and refuges in each of the 50 states and to six continents.
The construction and operation of a major industrial complex for oil extraction in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge would inevitably cause:
Birds that gather in large numbers on the coastal plain or in the adjacent coastal lagoons, or that have small, declining, or vulnerable populations, are most at risk from proposed oil development in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Degradation and loss of important bird habitats such as lowland tundra, freshwater wetlands, coastal marshes, and barrier islands and lagoons
- Numerous spills of crude oil and other chemicals that are toxic to birds and destroy the insulating capacity of feathers
- Disturbance and stress, caused by human activities including the operation of airfields and helicopter traffic, that could detract from normal feeding and resting time needed for some species to make successful migrations
- Increased predation by foxes, bears, ravens and gulls that are attracted to oilfields, reducing nesting success for waterfowl
- Thousands of birds in the Arctic Refuge are vulnerable to oil spills. If spilled oil reaches the Beaufort Sea coast, thousands of Long-tailed Ducks, and other waterfowl such as King Eiders and loons, would be threatened.
- The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is particularly vulnerable to habitat loss. With a small world population of 15,000 birds, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper nests on drier terrain, where oil facilities are often located to avoid wetlands.
- Gathering in large numbers on the coastal plain, Snow Geese are particularly vulnerable to disturbance. The Department of the Interior estimates that oil development could displace Snow Geese from as much as 45% of their preferred feeding habitat in the 1002 area.