Defenders Magazine

Fall 2018

Volume 94, Issue 1


Transnational species at risk under Trump administration policies

Transnational species at risk under Trump administration policies By Jane Braxton Little It begins when the skies over the Beaufort Sea glint gray with the hint of snow. The caribou that have been fattening on the cotton grasses of Alaska’s northern coastal plain become restless, stirred by a communal awakening that urges them south. They shift slowly at first. But when freezing sleet falls they travel with purpose, a musk-scented tide of mammals moving out of Alaska into Yukon Territory, heading across Old Crow Flats toward winter range south of the Porcupine River. When the Porcupine caribou herd passes by, one animal after another, 200,000-animals strong, the pounding of their four-toed hooves on frozen ground is haunting, says Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in steering committee formed to fight threats to the herd. “You feel it in your bones and you feel it in your heart.” It’s an age-old migration, and at 1,500 miles it’s one of the longest in the world. “This is the only place they know and they’ve known it for two million years,” she says. By the time they reach the Porcupine River, the herd will have meandered back and forth countless times between Canada and the United States. Summer grazing takes them where the foraging is best and pesky insects fewest without regard to national borders. Winter storms compel the herd south from their calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska through the Yukon in Canada to Alaska’s more protective boreal forests.


Living Lightly
Raise a Glass to Wildlife
Mariana Crow, Emily Weiser
As the Crow Cries
Defenders works to keep red wolves in the wild
Caribou Migration