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Final Rule by the USFWS banning pack llamas in ANWR

In April 2020, the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a proposal to prohibit the use of pack llamas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as part of a proposed regulation package. The rationale for this ban was based on a perceived camelid "disease risk" which is not supported by science. (For background on the proposal go to this blog post - https://www.alaskallamas.com/2020/04/attention-all-llama-packers-and-camelid.html)The llama user group made extensive comments during the open pubic comment period which closed June 8, 2020 and also participated in a public meeting held via teleconference due to the pandemic.  Public comment and public testimony clearly demonstrated the USFWS camelid "disease risk" hypothesis was indefensible. Furthermore it was documented on the record that USFWS violated NEPA throughout the process. (Indepth info on NEPA at this link - NEPA ViolationsIn spite of the llama community's gallant effort, USFWS recently c…
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Pack Llamas Under Siege on Alaska's Public Lands (Updated)

Pack llamas have historically played an important role on our public lands. They are used both recreationally and commercially as sure-footed pack animals. They are also used by public agencies for trail and park maintenance as they do in Rocky Mountain National Park.  However, there have been proposals by some government agencies to ban llamas from our public lands based on a perceived "disease threat" to wildlife that is not scientifically defensible.

Proposed Llama Bans in Alaska (Past and Present)
In 2012, the Alaska Board of Game (BOG) took action to ban domestic goats, sheep, and llamas for use in hunting wild goats and sheep. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reviewed the science behind the BOG action and recommended against inclusion of llamas. The BOG agreed with ADF&G and removed llamas from that regulation which remains in place to this day.

In January 2015 the National Park Service proposed a ban on domesticated sheep, goats, alpacas and llama…

Hike to Eagle & Symphony Lakes (September Featured Hike)

This hike through the beautiful South Fork Valley offers stunning views of Eagle and Symphony Lakes, tarns and valleys surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains. During September and early October (until the first snowfall) you will have the added bonus of vibrant fall colors. This trail can usually be hiked well into winter depending on snow conditions. 
The trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes starts from the South Fork parking lot. It has become  extremely popular and the parking lot fills quickly even on weekdays, so get there early. A daily fee or DNR parking pass is now required. Go here for a link to AK State Park Fees - Parking Fees
Directions to the trailhead: Take the Eagle River Loop/Hiland Road exit off the Glenn Highway just past the weigh station. Turn right at the traffic light onto Hiland and continue about eight miles up the road. Take a right onto South Creek and follow it to West River Drive and take another right. The parking lot is on your left.  Google Directions 
Sign…

Upper Ship Creek (August Featured Hike)

If you want to get off the beaten path for a more wilderness experience close to Anchorage, take a hike in the upper Ship Creek drainage in Chugach State Park. To avoid snow and harsh weather in the passes and upper reaches, I generally hike there June through mid-September although you may be able to hike into November depending on weather.  My preferred access point is the South Fork trail head  (although there is access in Arctic Valley.) To get to the trail head, take the Eagle River Loop/Hiland Road exit off the Glenn Highway just past the weigh station. Turn right at the traffic light onto Hiland and continue about eight miles up the road. Take a right onto South Creek and follow it to West River Drive and take another right. The parking lot is on your left.
The trail starts out on a boardwalk for a short distance and then turns into a trail that traverses the right side of the South Fork valley as you head away from the parking area. To access the Ship Creek drainage, continue…

Why Llamas Could Become Coronavirus Heroes

Llama antibodies show more and more promise as a cure for Corona Virus-
Inspired by llamas’ unique antibodies, scientists create a potent anti-coronavirus molecule


NBC News - Llamas serve surprising role in coronavirus antibody treatment
Llamas hold great promise in the fight against the coronavirus and this has been getting more and more attention lately, especially in mainstream media.  Llamas have something most animals don't.
"This strange property of producing these small simple antibodies," said John Aitchison of Seattle Children's Research Institute. It does not make llamas sick, but does allow them to naturally produce antibodies called nanobodies, which are collected in blood samples. The next step is to isolate specific nanobodies in the lab, find ones that work to combat COVID-19 and produce them in bacteria. The idea, eventually, is to make a treatment for coronavirus patients that may be administered deep in the lungs to keep COVID-19 from spreading. "…

Williwaw Lakes & Long Lake Loop (July Featured Hike)

The hike to Williwaw Lakes is one of the most beautiful in Alaska's Chugach State Park. This trek which is a short drive from downtown Anchorage, offers a variety of options including day hikes, overnight or multiday adventures so you can make it as easy or difficult as you want. (In the winter, it is also a popular ski trail and can usually be hiked to the lower Williwaw Lake depending on snow conditions.) The trek takes the hiker through alpine tundra amid a variety of alpine flowers, grassy meadows and scrub hemlock. The pristine alpine lakes are situated in a mountainous valley above Anchorage at the base of craggy Mount Williwaw (elev. 5,445 ft.). If you make it to the upper lakes, you will be rewarded with stunning views of surrounding mountains and possible wildlife viewing of dall sheep, moose, coyotes, fox, and various waterfowl. There are plenty of camping opportunities around the Williwaw Lakes (as well as Long Lake if you hike the loop.)

There are several ways to acces…