Why the Western Arctic Reserve

Bird flying in Western Arctic
Flickr: Western Arctic National Parkland
The Western Arctic Reserve contains some of the world’s best and most sensitive wildlife and bird habitat – including the famous Teshekpuk Lake, and extraordinary wilderness values.

The oil industry is interested in drilling here, yet many areas contain habitat too special for any type of industrial development.

This habitat is vital to:

  • Millions of migratory birds
  • Thousands of caribou
  • Polar bears, musk oxen and wolves

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Saving the Western Arctic Reserve

The Wilderness Society and its local conservation partners are working to keep oil drilling rigs out of the most sensitive areas of the Western Arctic Reserve. 

We're doing this by:

  • Defending land-management plans that protect fragile areas that wildlife depend upon.
  • Conducting scientific research that helps identify important areas — such as Teshekpuk Lake — to keep off limits to drilling.

Here's what's at stake: 

  • Millions of migratory birds from every continent on Earth hatch and raise their young in the reserve.
  • Caribou and other species rely heavily on special areas of the reserve for calving, feeding and escaping summer’s insect swarms.
  • Local communities whose subsistence way of life is deeply tied to hunting and fishing. 

This work is important because the oil industry has broken many promises about safety in drilling operations on Alaska’s North Slope. Drilling for oil is a dirty, dangerous business and it must be done right to protect sensitive habitat. 

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