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Animals are in ANWR's Wilderness, Even if Medred Doesn't See Them
Letters / Anchorage Daily News / October 18, 2005

Craig Medred writes that the Arctic refuge is a barren land with surprisingly few animals and suggests that wildlife numbers given by environmental movements are fraudulent and inflated ("Wildlife issue aside, ANWR needs saving from politics," Oct. 9).

I spent five weeks this summer traveling through the refuge, and I saw wildlife every day. I saw caribou 10 or 11 of the 18 days I spent hiking, sometimes in herds of several hundred or thousands and sometimes in smaller numbers. I saw bears three to four of the days I was there, both while hiking and later while canoeing. I saw wolf, bear and caribou tracks at almost every sandbar we reached. Add to that the many birds, weasels and other creatures, and the impression I had was one of life all around, even if we don't see it. Given that we were hiking 7-8 miles a day and paddling 15 miles a day, that was a fairly good average for one caribou per 150 acres, as Medred calculates.

However, I agree with Medred about the value of the view, and that of original wilderness. Ultimately, the question is one that affects our soul: Is there a place for true wilderness in our lives and our world? Most of the great spiritual insights in all religions occurred in the wilderness; what happens when wilderness is gone?

---- Anna Berge


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