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Lover's lane for birds found in Arctic

NEW YORK (March 9, 2011) A new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society reveals the critical importance of western Arctic Alaska's Teshekpuk Lake region to tens of thousands of birds that breed in the area during the brief, but productive arctic summers, and makes clearer the case for permanent protection of the area.

Results of the four-year studythe first to look at the full suite of bird species from around the world that descend on the Teshekpuk Lake regionshowed that the region contains some of the highest nesting bird densities and nest productivity across Alaska's Arctic.

The study appears in the March issue of the peer-reviewed journal Arctic. Authors include Joe Liebezeit and Steve Zack of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Gary White, a statistician from Colorado State University.

"This is the first study to investigate breeding bird densities and measure how well birds are able to produce young in this remote and important region near Teshekpuk Lake," said the study's lead author, Joe Liebezeit. "We found that the density of nesting birds was markedly higher compared to many other sites in Arctic Alaska."

The Teshekpuk Lake Special Area (TLSA) in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A) has long been recognized as an important site for wildlife. Tens of thousands of geese migrate there to molt in summer and a 70,000-strong Caribou herdcritical to North Slope natives for subsistence hunting calves its young in the TLSA.

The Teshekpuk study site exists within a portion of the TLSA that was temporarily withdrawn by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from oil and gas leasing consideration in July of 2010 over concerns for wildlife.

WCS North America Program Director Dr. Jodi Hilty said, "Given the results of this study, and previous studies conducted by WCS and other scientists, we recommend that the region of 10-year development deferral be granted permanent protection. "

During the st

Contact: Scott Smith
Wildlife Conservation Society

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