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ALASKA SPECIES THAT NEED US TO GET TO 350 Photo credits
Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus or Vulpes lagopus)
Range: Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, North America, Greenland, and Iceland
The Arctic fox is well adapted to survive in some of the coldest places on the planet — the Arctic tundra and Arctic sea ice. A slumbering Arctic fox in winter will wrap its long, bushy tail around its body for added warmth; the fox’s feet are covered in dense fur to insulate against the cold and provide traction on the ice. As temperatures rise, the Arctic fox’s tundra and sea-ice habitat is shrinking, its lemming prey are becoming less abundant, and it faces increased competition and displacement by the red fox, which is moving northward as temperatures warm and trees invade the tundra.

Through an aggressive litigation and lobbying campaign, the Center has fought for increased protections for Arctic species that have been hit hard by the climate crisis.
Bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus)
Range: Arctic and subarctic waters, including the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas off Alaska
The bearded seal is also called the square flipper seal, but it gets its common name from its most characteristic feature — conspicuous and very abundant whiskers. It’s a primary source of food for the polar bear. Bearded seal pups enter the water only hours after they’re born, and quickly become proficient divers. Bearded seals rely on the solid platform of the sea ice for giving birth, rearing pups, and resting. The rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice threatens the bearded seal’s ability to raise its young successfully. In the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska, the early retreat of the sea ice is also leading to reduction of the bearded seal’s bottom-dwelling prey.

In May 2008, the Center filed a scientific petition requesting that this seal be listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by November 2010 whether the bearded seal warrants protection.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes)
Range: Breed on Pacific Ocean islands, mainly Northwestern Hawaiian Islands; forage in North Pacific Ocean
This large, long-winged seabird makes epic journeys across the North Pacific, sometimes exceeding 9,000 kilometers per trip, to gather squid and fish to feed its chick. While at sea, thousands of black-footed albatrosses are drowned every year in U.S. and international longline and gillnet fisheries. Because most of the world’s black-footed albatrosses nest on the low-lying islands of the Northwest ern Hawaiian Island chain, sea-level rise and higher storm surge due to climate change threaten to drown nests.

The Center and other groups petitioned to protect this species under the Endangered Species Act in 2004, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now deciding whether to protect this species.
Boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas)
Range: North-central California, east through Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and north to southern Alaska
Boreal toads use holes dug by other animals for burrowing, and they can spend half of their lives hibernating. To find their way, like other toads, they use the stars and their sense of smell. Water pollution, habitat loss, and chytrid fungus have already resulted in the boreal toad disappearing from much its range. Because the toad only lives at high elevations — for example, above 8,500 feet in Colorado — global warming’s rising temperatures add yet another threat to the species. With rising temperatures, suitable habitat for the toad is pushed to even higher elevations, and habitat patches become more isolated, giving the toad fewer places to call home. In Yellowstone National Park, increased warming, reduced annual rainfall, and increasing drought conditions have already dried up pond habitat for the boreal toad and other amphibians.
Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus)
Range: Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas in the western Arctic Ocean; Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, and Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic; Okhotsk Sea in Russia; and far North Atlantic Ocean
Four of the five remaining bowhead whale populations have fewer than 400 whales each, but the largest population is the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock, currently estimated at 10,000 individuals and rising. Gentle giants of the sea, bowhead whales live in the coldest, most remote reaches of the world’s oceans, amid the thick, omnipresent arctic pack ice. As global warming melts the bowhead’s icy abode, the bowhead is at risk from increasing offshore oil development and shipping activity in Arctic waters, which heighten threats from oil spills and ship strikes. Ocean acidification threatens the bowhead’s crustacean copepod and krill prey.

The Center has been fighting for protection of the whale’s home since 2000, when we filed a petition to designate 26.5 million acres as critical habitat for the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock of bowheads.
Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)
Range: Pacific Ocean and West Coast from Alaska to Mexico
Underwater, the Cassin's auklet is an agile diver, propelling itself to depths of up to 80 meters with its wings to feed on krill — small, shrimp-like crustaceans. While flying, this small, chunky seabird is a little less graceful, resembling a mini-football with rapidly whirring wings. Cassin’s auklets nests in deep burrows on offshore islands without predators from Alaska to Mexico. Increasing ocean temperatures, harsher El Niño events, and ocean acidification in the California Current marine ecosystem off the West Coast threaten the ecosystem’s entire food web, including the prey of the Cassin’s auklet. The world’s largest breeding populations in British Columbia and the largest California population have been rapidly declining in recent decades, including years of unprecedented complete breeding failure when chicks starved en masse. This failure has been linked to changes in ocean climate conditions.
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Range: Monterey Bay, California to Chukchi Sea, Alaska
The chinook salmon is the largest member of the salmon family, reaching nearly five feet in length. This fish is highly valued as both a game and commercial fish, particularly since it’s scarce compared to other Pacific salmon. The chinook is imperiled by threats to both ocean water and freshwater, as it lives in both habitats at different stages in its lifecycle.

Rising temperatures and changing river flows threaten cold water-loving chinook salmon in several ways. Warmer river and stream temperatures put these fish under higher metabolic stress, increase their susceptibility to parasites and disease, and can cause eggs to hatch earlier in the year, so the young are smaller and more vulnerable to predators. High levels of winter flooding can wash away salmon eggs in streambeds, while earlier melting of snow leaves rivers and streams warmer and shallower in the summer and fall. One study found that up to 40 percent of chinook salmon in the Snohomish River basin in western Washington state may be lost by 2050.
Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
Range: Coastal waters along Northern Pacific Rim, from Tillamook Bay, Oregon extending north and west to northern Japan
Chum salmon, also sometimes referred to as “dog salmon,” are second only to chinook salmon in size and were historically perhaps the most abundant of all salmon. Breeding males develop pronounced canine-like teeth — hence the “dog” moniker — and a bold tricolor pattern on the body. Chum salmon have long been popular as both sport and food fish, but they’re now dangerously close to extinction, with several subpopulations believed to be extirpated and more robust populations declining each year.

Rising temperatures and changing river flows threaten cold water-loving chum salmon in several ways. Warmer river and stream temperatures put the fish under higher metabolic stress and increase their susceptibility to parasites and disease. Earlier melting of snow leaves rivers and streams warmer and shallower in the summer and fall, while high levels of winter flooding can wash away salmon eggs in the streambed.
Collared pika (Ochotona collaris)
Range: Mountainous regions of western North America
The collared pika is closely related to the American pika, and like its relative, it lives in high-elevation alpine boulder fields. The collared pika spends a large part of its time in the summer collecting grasses and flowers that it stores in haypiles under boulders as its food supply during winter. It makes thousands of trips during July and August to collect food for winter.

Because collared pikas don’t hibernate but remain active under snow-topped boulder fields during the winter, they rely on the protective snowpack to provide insulation during the coldest winter spells. Climate change-related reductions in snowpack threaten this species. A collapse in pika populations in Canada’s Yukon was linked to warmer winters and less winter snowpack, which exposed pikas to cold extremes, and to late winter snowfall, which delayed the start of the growing season for the pika’s plant food.
Cook Inlet beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas)
Range: Alaska’s Cook Inlet
The snowy white Cook Inlet beluga swims in an ocean chock-full of dangers such as pollution, oil drilling, and global warming. The isolated Cook Inlet beluga whale population must also contend with the increasingly perilous and industrialized waters near Anchorage, Alaska’s fastest-growing city. Ocean acidification, which will have some of the most severe impacts in Arctic waters, threatens the beluga’s prey. Warming water temperatures also threaten Cook Inlet salmon runs, which are an important food for the beluga.

In response to a petition by the Center and our partners, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed in 2007 to list the whale as endangered — and then received more than 150,000 public comments in support of endangered status.
Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus)
Range: Shallow coastal waters of eastern North Pacific
The eastern North Pacific gray whale is believed to make the longest yearly migration of any mammal, traveling in two to three months an amazing 16,000 to 22,000 kilometers at an average speed of only five kilometers per hour. During the summer, gray whales bulk up in the arctic waters off Alaska, scooping up gigantic mouthfuls of mud from the ocean bottom and filtering out bottom-dwelling critters. Come fall, they make the epic journey to the warm, shallow lagoons of Baja California to give birth and nurse their young.

In recent years, increasing numbers of malnourished gray whales have been observed all along their migratory route, and scientists believe that ocean warming may be decreasing their food supply. The rapid loss of arctic sea ice appears to be lowering the abundance of bottom-dwelling prey for gray whales in traditional foraging grounds off Alaska. Gray whales are also beginning their southbound migration later, which means they spend less time in calving lagoons nursing their young.
Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Range: Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, possibly southern Colorado, and western Canada
Traditional Blackfeet Indians believed the grizzly bear to be our closest animal relative. Yet today, grizzlies occupy less than 2 percent of their original range due to a mass kill-off of the bears both for profit and from fear. While the bears are mostly protected in the lower 48 states, they’re still hunted in Alaska and parts of Canada. Grizzlies now face the additional threat of global warming, which imperils one of the Yellowstone grizzly population’s key food sources: whitebark pine nuts. Studies show that bears that eat lots of whitebark pine nuts before hibernating survive better and have more cubs. However, rising temperatures are shrinking the range of whitebark pine and may make it more susceptible to mountain pine beetle attacks.

In 2007, the Yellowstone bear population was removed from the endangered species list. The Center filed suit with six other conservation organizations. In response to another case, in 2009 the court restored protections for Yellowstone grizzlies, citing in part the decline in their food sources due to global warming.
Henderson’s checkermallow (Sidalcea hendersonii)
Range: Oregon, Washington, Canada, Alaska
This tall perennial puts on a beautiful show all summer with its spike of purple to pink blooms. But how much longer that show will go on in the wild is unclear. While this species was historically found in at least 10 sites in Oregon, it currently occurs naturally only on Cox Island, and there are believed to be fewer than 100 total populations.

Because Henderson’s checkermallow exists on or adjacent to tidelands, it’s particularly vulnerable to the sea-level rise anticipated to accelerate with global warming.
Human being (Homo sapiens)
Range: Global
Homo sapiens, the Latin name for the modern human species, means “wise man.” Modern humans evolved in east Africa about 200,000 years ago. As of 2009, there are more than 6.8 billion of us on Earth. Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection and problem solving, but can they put these qualities to use when it comes to the man-made challenge posed by global warming?

Health and climate scientists believe that global warming is already responsible for some 150,000 deaths each year, and they fear that the number may well double by 2030. Global warming also contributes to some 5 million human illnesses every year. Some of the ways global warming negatively affects human health — especially in poorer nations — include: speeding the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever; creating conditions that lead to potentially fatal malnutrition and diarrhea; and increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves, floods, and other weather-related disasters. Studies have also found a direct link between rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and increased human mortality. Added air pollution caused by each degree Celsius increase in temperature caused by CO2 leads to about 1,000 additional deaths in the United States and many more cases of respiratory illness and asthma.
Kittlitz’s murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris)
Range: Alaska and the Russian Far East
The Kittlitz’s murrelet is a small seabird that nests on open ground near the tops of the rugged coastal mountains of Alaska and Siberia. Also known as “glacier murrelets,” these birds search for food in cloudy coastal waters next to glaciers and glacier outflows during summer, aided by their large eyes. Over the past century, surface temperatures in Alaska have increased twice as much as the global average. In response, Alaska’s coastal glaciers are dramatically retreating and thinning, reducing the Kittlitz’s murrelet’s foraging habitat. With coastal glaciers melting away, Alaska Kittlitz’s murrelet populations have plummeted by 80 to 90 percent in the past 20 years.

In 2001, the Center petitioned to protect the Kittlitz’s murrelet under the Endangered Species Act. In 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the species on the candidate list, denying it needed protections. The next year, the Center filed suit to force full protection of the Kittlitz’s murrelet and 282 other imperiled candidate species.
Musk ox (Ovibos moschatus)
Range: Arctic areas of Canada, Greenland, and Alaska
The musk ox, or its ancestor, is believed to have migrated to North America between 200,000 and 90,000 years ago. Alive in the Pleistocene period, the musk ox was a contemporary of the mammoth. Among this species’ distinguishing attributes: Males use a musky odor to attract females during mating season, and when the herd is threatened, adult musk oxen face outward to form a ring around the calves. Though effective against predators such as wolves, this configuration makes them an easy target for human hunters.

It’s thought that the musk ox survived the last ice age by finding ice-free areas away from prehistoric peoples, but as temperatures warm thanks to climate change, increasing rain-on-snow events may jeopardize musk oxen. When rain falls on top of snowpack and freezes into a sheet of ice, musk oxen are unable to break through the ice to browse on plants underneath and can starve. In 2003, about 20,000 musk oxen starved to death due to a rain-on-snow event.
North Pacific right whale (Eubalaena japonica)
Range: Sightings generally occur in mouth of the Sea of Okhotsk and in eastern Bering Sea
Whalers named the North Pacific right whale thinking that these were the “right whales” to kill because they’re slow swimmers, they swim within sight of shore, and their carcasses float. Thus it’s no surprise that, though once abundant, the North Pacific right whale is now the most endangered whale in the world, with likely fewer than 50 individuals left today. With the melting of sea ice due to climate change, the food web in the Bering Sea — the North Pacific right whale’s summering grounds — is changing dramatically. The combined effects of ocean warming and ocean acidification may reduce the abundance of the right whale’s plankton prey. And increasing offshore oil development and shipping activity in increasingly ice-free Arctic waters heightens threats from oil spills and ship strikes.

In 2000, the Center formally requested that the National Marine Fisheries Service protect the whale’s critical habitat. After years of inaction, the Center sued, and eventually, the Fisheries Service designated critical habitat in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.
Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentate)
Range: Pacific Rim from Japan through Alaska, North American Pacific Coast to Baja California, Mexico
Ancient, jawless fish, lampreys superficially resemble eels but aren’t related to them. They have an anadromous life cycle (migrating to freshwater for spawning), similar to salmon and steelhead trout. Large concentrations of adult and larval lampreys were once an important and dependable high-fat food source for many birds, fish, and mammals along the Pacific Coast and acted as a buffer to reduce predation on migrating adult salmon. Like salmon, lampreys play a key ecological role transporting nutrients like nitrogen to freshwater ecosystems. Because the survival of Pacific lamprey larvae is sensitive to temperature, and larvae appear to have a little tolerance for high temperatures, rising stream temperatures from global warming may threaten Pacific lamprey populations. Increases in extreme rainfall events and flooding may also scour or eliminate the gravel beds that lamprey need for spawning.

Alarmed by severe declines of Pacific lamprey in many rivers, the Center joined a coalition in petitioning for Endangered Species Act protection for the Pacific lamprey, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service eventually denied listing.
Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens)
Range: Arctic waters of Bering and Chukchi seas between Alaska and Siberia, as well as eastern Siberian Sea and western Beaufort Sea
With tusks like an elephant and weighing up to 4,500 pounds, the Pacific walrus is one blubbery beast. Female walruses and their calves follow the sea ice year-round and rely on the safety of ice floes for nursing and resting, since they can’t swim continuously. Global warming has already significantly reduced sea ice the Pacific walrus needs for resting, giving birth, and nursing young. When the sea ice retreats from the feeding grounds, females and calves are forced to come ashore, where the young are vulnerable to predators and to being trampled to death in abnormally large herds. In 2007, 3,000 to 4,000 young walruses were trampled to death in Siberia, while in 2009, 133 young walruses were trampled to death in Alaska. The walrus’s feeding grounds are also being auctioned off to oil companies to extract more fossil fuels.

In 2008, the Center petitioned to protect the walrus under the Endangered Species Act due to global warming, and in 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a positive finding on our petition.
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)
Range: In and around Arctic Ocean
Though the polar bear is a mighty hunter and fierce defender of its young, it’s among the world’s most climate change-threatened animals. Polar bears live throughout the ice-covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic and are totally reliant on the sea ice for essential activities, including hunting and feeding on seals, seeking mates and breeding, making long-distance movements, and in some cases building dens on the ice to rear cubs. Global warming is affecting the Arctic far more rapidly and intensely than the rest of the world, causing the bears’ sea-ice habitat to melt away. Scientists estimate that if the Arctic continues its melting trend, two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will go extinct by 2050, while the rest will near extinction by the end of the century.

Thanks to a Center petition and Center-led legal action, the polar bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008 — though both the Bush and Obama administrations have refused to let the listing affect U.S. climate policy. We’re currently working to achieve true protections for the bear, simultaneously defending its listing from attempts to overturn it.
Queen Charlotte goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi)
Range: Coastal rainforests of Alaska, Queen Charlotte Islands, and Vancouver Island
The Queen Charlotte subspecies of the northern goshawk, with its legendary beauty and flying skill, evolved to live in the lush coastal rainforests of Alaska and the Queen Charlotte and Vancouver islands. With climate change, warmer-adapted tree species such as Douglas fir may expand northward into the Queen Charlotte’s range and may increase competition with northern goshawks.

The Center’s efforts to save this goshawk have proven instrumental in protecting vast swatches of Alaskan Tongass wilderness, despite administrative posturing that has prevented the goshawk from being granted Endangered Species Act protection within its entire natural range. Besides petitioning to protect the bird federally, the Center has challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s repeated refusals to list the bird in its U.S. range. Thanks to our work, its Canada populations are protected.
Ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata)
Range: Endemic to the western and central North Pacific Ocean
Easily distinguished by the striking white ribbon bands trisecting its dense black fur, the ribbon seal is both one of the most beautiful and the most elusive of the true seals. Ribbon seals rely on ice floes at the edge of the sea ice as a safe place away from predators for giving birth and nursing their pups. The melting and early breakup of this sea-ice habitat threatens the seal’s ability to successfully rear its young. At least 40 percent of the ribbon seal’s winter sea ice habitat in the Bering Sea off Alaska is projected to disappear by 2050.

The Center is currently involved in litigation against U.S. Fish and Wildlife for declining to list the species as endangered after we petitioned to protect it in late 2007 — and with mounting scientific evidence showing listing is necessary to save the seal.
Ringed seal (Pusa hispida)
Range: Arctic and subarctic waters, including the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas off Alaska
The ringed seal, which is the primary prey for polar bears, is the only seal species that makes and maintains breathing holes in the ice, thus allowing it to use ice habitat that other seals can’t. Ringed seals excavate snow caves on sea ice to provide hidden, insulated shelters for giving birth and nursing their pups during spring. The early breakup of sea ice destroys these snow sanctuaries, separating moms and pups and forcing pups into the icy Arctic waters before they’re big enough or strong enough to survive.

In May 2008, the Center filed a scientific petition requesting that ringed seals be listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, a decision due by November 2010 under court order.
Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
Range: Pacific Ocean and coastal streams
Sockeye salmon, also known as “red” or “blueback” salmon, live a dual existence between freshwater streams and the ocean. Sockeye salmon hatch in freshwater streams where they may live for up to four years before migrating to sea as silvery smolt weighing only a few ounces. They grow quickly in the sea, usually reaching four to eight pounds after one to four years. Mature sockeye salmon travel thousands of miles from ocean feeding areas to spawn in the same freshwater system they were born in. Little is known about how they navigate.

Climate change affects sockeye salmon in several important ways. As rivers get warmer, the survival rate of cold-water salmon migrating upstream to spawn is expected to plummet. Flooding events in the streams where sockeye spawn could wash eggs from the gravel beds where they’re laid. A recent study found that prolonged ocean warming could greatly restrict the ocean foraging areas of sockeye salmon.
Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri)
Range: The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Alaska’s North Slope, as well as eastern coastal Russia and the Bering Sea
A large, Arctic sea duck, the spectacled eider is aptly named — feathers around a breeding male’s eyes change from pale green to bright orange, creating a noticeable set of “goggles.” This bird winters in openings in the sea ice in a small region of the Bering Sea, diving deeply to capture clams at the ocean bottom. Decreasing sea-ice cover in the Bering Sea has reduced the abundance of the eiders’ bottom-dwelling prey. Melting sea ice also has increased prospects for the expansion of bottom trawling and oil exploration in the Bering Sea, which would further deplete the eider’s food and pose oil spill risks. On the eider’s tundra breeding grounds, melting permafrost — the frozen layer of ground that prevents water from draining — may result in the drying of wetlands and the transformation of tundra to shrublands and forests.

Thanks to work by the Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 25 million acres for this imperiled sea duck. We’ve also helped protect the eider’s pristine Arctic environment from oil and gas drilling.
Spotted seal (Phoca largha)
Range: Beaufort, Chukchi, Bering, and Okhotsk seas and south to the northern Yellow Sea and western Sea of Japan
The spotted seal has a lot to lose if climate change continues unabated, as this seal relies on the safety of the sea-ice edge for giving birth and rearing its young. Sea-ice extent in the seal’s habitat in Alaska and Russia has already declined markedly in March through June, the months the seal uses the ice to reproduce and molt its fur. By 2050, winter sea ice is projected to decrease by 40 percent in much of the seal’s range. The loss and early breakup of sea ice could lead to breeding failure of the spotted seal, since seal pups would be forced to enter the icy Arctic waters before they’re big and strong enough to survive.

The Center petitioned for the spotted, ringed, and bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act in 2008. A few months later, the National Marine Fisheries Service reacted positively to the petition; it’s now slated to decide on protections for all three seals.
Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus)
Range: North Pacific Ocean coasts, ranging on the Pacific Rim from California to northern Japan
Steller’s sea lions were hunted for their meat and skin by prehistoric communities everywhere their range intersected with humans. Among pinnipeds, this sea lion is inferior in size only to the walrus and the two elephant seals. The species is named for naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who first described them in 1741. The Steller sea lion has attracted considerable attention in recent decades due to significant, unexplained declines in the animal’s numbers over a large portion of its range in Alaska. Increases in ocean temperatures are having profound impacts on Arctic and sub-Arctic marine ecosystems inhabited by the Steller sea lion. Warmer waters are changing the productivity and community structure of forage fish. Sea-level rise will directly affect terrestrial rookery and haul-out sites currently used by Steller sea lions.
Steller's eider (Polysticta stelleri)
Range: Eastern coastal Russia, Alaska, and the Bering Sea
The Steller’s eider is well prepared for life in the Arctic; it’s insulated with body fat and dense plumage to allow for migration along frigid coastlines each season. In the eider’s wintering grounds in the Bering Sea, decreasing sea-ice cover has reduced the abundance of the bird’s bottom-dwelling prey. Melting sea ice has also increased prospects for the expansion of bottom trawling and oil exploration in the Bering Sea, which would further deplete the eider’s food and pose oil spill risks. On the eider’s tundra breeding grounds, melting permafrost — the frozen layer of ground that prevents water from draining — may result in the drying of wetlands and the transformation of tundra to shrublands and forests.

The Center has a long history of protecting the Steller’s eider, with our most recent work focusing on keeping Big Oil out of its few remaining pristine habitats. In 2006, we blocked oil leasing in important eider habitat, and the next year, we successfully interrupted plans by Shell Oil to begin exploration near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura)
Range: Alpine regions from Alaska to New Mexico
The white-tailed ptarmigan is the smallest bird in the grouse family and the only bird in the alpine zone to remain there during winter instead of migrating. It has feathers around its nostrils, so the air it inhales is warmed before reaching its body. In winter, this bird is pure white except for a black beak and eyes, and its white feathers help camouflage it. In summer, it has a mottled and barred brown head, breast, and back with white wings, belly, and tail. Because white-tailed ptarmigan occupy patchy high-elevation alpine tundra habitats, rising temperatures may compress and fragment their alpine habitat as forested habitats move upward in elevation. Scientists have found that the growth of ptarmigan populations in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado has decreased as winter minimum temperatures have increased, and that future warming is likely to accelerate declines in ptarmigan abundance.
Yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii)
Range: Northern Alaska, Canada, and Eurasia in summer; British Columbia to Baja, around Scandinavia, and along the Pacific coast of Siberia in winter
Ungainly on land, the yellow-billed loon moves with grace and ease through the water, diving in an instant with its large feet propelling it toward the lakebed in search of fish. An inhabitant of remote Arctic reaches, the yellow-billed loon nests in tundra wetlands in Alaska, Canada, and Russia. Already confronted with oil and gas drilling in its once isolated home, the yellow-billed loon now must also contend with climate change. The loon is threatened by flooding of its low-lying coastal wetland habitat in the face of warming temperatures and sea-level rise. Shorelines held up by permafrost are beginning to subside as permafrost melts, allowing the influx of salty ocean water into Arctic coastal wetlands and destroying the loon’s nesting areas.

The Center and allies petitioned to protect the loon under the Endangered Species Act. The yellow-billed loon was only made a “candidate” for protection.