Tribal leaders in a remote northwest Alaska village are asking that people leave Pacific walrus alone as the animals start to come ashore.
The tribal council of Point Lay says in a statement they are concerned about the walrus because they are subject to stampedes that can kill the youngest of the animals.
The council says walrus are a source of subsistence food for them. The council says villagers want to protect their cultural way of life and asked that anyone in the area respect “our animals and try not to disturb them.”
The walrus have gathered by the thousands each fall on a barrier island near the Inupiat Eskimo village in recent years in what has become a marine mammal phenomenon caused by a warming climate. Last year, 35,000 hauled out on the rocky beach.
About 1,000 walrus are currently at the site.
Pacific walrus are beginning to come ashore near a remote community on Alaska’s northwest coast in what’s become a marine mammal phenomenon caused by a warming climate.
The massive animals have gathered by the thousands each fall on a barrier island near the Inupiat Eskimo village of Point Lay. Last year, 35,000 hauled out on the rocky beach.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Andrea Medeiros says about 1,000 walrus are currently at the site. Medeiros says the village notified her agency Friday that the animals have begun arriving.
Walrus prefer resting on sea ice to look out for predators such as polar bears. But in 2007, they began coming ashore on the northwest Alaska coast because of receding summer sea ice as Arctic temperatures have warmed.