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Snowy White Owls Inspire Need for Arctic Action

A new Senate wilderness bill (S. 2341) would protect arctic habitat for wildlife including migratory birds such as the snowy white owl, which sometimes winter in the Granite State. Credit: NaturesPhotoAdventures
A new Senate wilderness bill (S. 2341) would protect arctic habitat for wildlife including migratory birds such as the snowy white owl, which sometimes winter in the Granite State. Credit: NaturesPhotoAdventures
December 7, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. – It's a measure that would protect land in the Arctic, and local conservation advocates say it also will have a major impact on migratory birds that often come south to find food in the Granite State during the winter months.

Amateur birder Roger Stephenson says snowy white owls are some of the more rare birds that fly south to New Hampshire this time of year.

He says just seeing one of these birds is enough for many people who are not involved in the conservation movement, to start thinking about the world around them.

"I've got to tell you, when a snowy owl is on a marsh, I have seen more people become more interested in birds, and to the importance of the Arctic Refuge, through looking through a spy scope at snowy owls," he states.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is co-sponsor of a measure introduced in the Senate last week that would designate a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness.

Pam Hunt, a senior biologist with New Hampshire Audubon, says migratory birds need protections throughout the entire ecosystem as they fly north to south.

"The biggest threat to habitat, probably, in New Hampshire, for migratory shore birds is going to be sea level rise, because as the water comes up, the marsh is going to get flooded out,” she points out. “There's going to be less habitat available to birds during the migration."

The measure (S. 2341) has 34 Senate co-sponsors. It would protect birds and other wildlife in the Arctic from the impacts of major development, including oil and gas drilling.


Mike Clifford/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NH