Alaska’s Walrus Population Gets A Little Help from Friends at FAA

The FAA has launched a program to address low-flying aircraft along the Alaska Peninsula which endanger Alaska’s walruses by causing stampedes which put walrus pups and humans in danger.

Every summer, female walruses and their young take to the shallow continental shelf of the Chucki Sea to forage for food on the seafloor. A recent shrinkage in the amount of Artic sea ice have encouraged walruses to ‘haul-out’ on land, bringing them closer to flight paths and making them more vulnerable to being frightened by the noise of aircraft engines.

The initiative is in response to requests by Alaska native villagers, pilots and other interested stakeholders. The FAA will collaborate with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to educate pilots about the locations of walrus haul-outs and alert them that low-flying in these locations can be construed as harassment of the animals, which is a violation of U.S. law.

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