What Mexico is teaching this Alaskan scientist

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On my first day at Wild 9, I found it funny that I had to come all the way to Merida, Mexico to see colleagues from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and to make new contacts with people from Lake Clark National Park and wildlife photographers that have captured Alaska’s amazing landscapes on film to share with the international audience.

Ecologist Wendy Loya blogs from the 9th World Wilderness Conference in Merida, Mexico.

Read more about why we’re there.

I guess it is no surprise that there are so many Alaskans at the World Wilderness Congress, given that many of us live in Alaska for its wildness. Global awareness of the threats from Pebble Mine in Southwestern Alaska, industrial development in Alaska’s Arctic and the impacts of climate change on Pacific Walrus will be greater after this conference.

It is now my second day at the conference, and I have now expanded my global awareness as well. I have experienced wilderness around the world through the diverse talks I have attended. I have been drawn to presentations about climate change adaptation in Canada, Russia and Australia, hoping to learn new ways we might try to protect Alaska from further change while we get our emissions under control.

I was amazed to learn how wildlife in the Tibetan plateau are facing similar impacts as Alaskan’s wildlife, including increasingly extreme weather events and habitat fragmentation. I learned that the Philippine Eagle rivals in size the Stellar’s Sea-Eagle, which occasionally visits Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The female Phillippine Eagle is the largest eagle in length from beak to tail, while the Stellar’s Sea-Eagle is the heaviest eagle. Both species are threatened by habitat loss.

Well, it’s time for my colleague Michelle Crist to give her talk, so I’m off to learn more about the Northern Rockies!