FAA Acts to Protect Walruses in Alaska

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 14- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working to address concerns that low-flying aircraft could cause walruses to stampede and kill their pups or harm humans on the Alaska Peninsula. 

Female walruses and their young forage over the shallow continental shelf of the Chukchi Sea every summer. The walruses use sea ice as a platform to rest between foraging for food on the seafloor.The U.S. Geological Survey has said that changes in Arctic sea ice are causing walruses to temporarily leave the water or “haul-out” on land rather than on ice as they have in the past. 

Alaska native villagers, pilots and other interested stakeholders have expressed concerns about the effects of low-flying aircraft on animals that have hauled out on land.

While the FAA does not establish Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) or set altitude restrictions over walrus haul-outs, the agency is collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to include information on visual flight rules (VFR) sectional charts to educate pilots about the locations of walrus haul-outs and alert them that harassing walruses is a violation of U.S. law. 

A picture of the VFR sectional can be found at: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/flight_info/aeronav/digital_products/vfr/#SecPDFs

Click on Cape Lisburne Sectional and look at the coastal area near Wainwright, Alaska.