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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 - USFWS Attempting to Ban Pack Llamas in ANWR)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 multiple procedural violations by USFWS were noted. (Go to this link for more on procedural violations - NEPA Violations)In spite of the llama community's gallant effort, USFWS ignored science and came out with a final rule effective Aug…
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Case in point, effective August 31, 2020, these pack llamas were eliminated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) based on an unfounded and scientifically indefensible disease risk. United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is pointing to fake science ( as justification for the elimination of the pack llama user group.

USFWS came out with their final rule effective August 31, 2020 banning the use of pack llamas (camelids) in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). This is much bigger than packing with llamas in Alaska. It potentially affects all users of public lands. If they can do this to llama packers, they can do it to anyone. Please consider donating to protect your right to access public lands. Go Fund Me - Legal Defense
The Greater Appa…

Eagle and Symphony Lakes Loop

This hike through the beautiful South Fork Valley and over the mountains into Ship Creek offers stunning views of alpine lakes (Eagle and Symphony), 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 in October and well into winter depending on snow conditions.

The trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes starts from the South Fork trailhead parking lot and is well established/marked. Go to this link for info about the Eagle & Symphony Lakes trail: Hike to Eagle-symphony-lakes
To take the loop back to  the SF parking lot, proceed to the west side of Symphony Lake where there are several camping spots if you decide to camp here for the night. If you decide to take the loop back, you will need good weather and navigation skills. Don't attempt this in the winter or in adverse weather, because you are hiking on ridges where visibili…

Pack Llamas Under Siege on Alaska's Public Lands (Updated)

Pack llamas have historically played an important role on our public lands. They are sure-footed pack animals used both recreationally and commercially . 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 government agencies to ban llamas from our public lands based on a perceived "disease threat" to wildlife that is not scientifically defensible.

I.    Proposed Llama Bans in Alaska by Agency (Past and Present)
Alaska Board of Game (BOG): 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. To this day, pack llamas (camelids) are allowed on all state of Alaska public lands without restriction…

Camelid Hypothetical Disease Risk - Myths & Misinformation Debunked

(Excerpt from comment to USFWS by Phil Nuechterlein)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is proposing a regulatory addition to 50 CFR § 36.39 (k) Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) stating that all domestic camelids are prohibited. USFWS concerns that camelids present a disease risk to wildlife in ANWR are clearly misguided and lack scientific evidence. The USFWS proposal to ban pack llamas unfairly eliminates a user group based on the false and misleading portrayal of pack llamas as a "disease threat" to wildlife. Although we have never packed for profit, the USFWS policy implicating pack llamas as a disease threat unnecessarily harms all of us that use pack llamas, including commercial llama packing enterprises in the lower 48 states. Rumor mongering knows no regional boundaries.

The references cited by the USFWS as a basis for this proposed camelid prohibition in ANWR are not credible nor have they been peer reviewed. These same references have been evaluated …

Llamas Low Environmental Impact Make Them the Logical Choice for ANWR

As a recreational user of pack llamas on public lands in Alaska for almost 40 years, I have some very serious concerns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed regulatory addition to 50 CFR § 36.39 (k) Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) stating that all domestic camelids (pack llamas) are prohibited.

I appreciate that ANWR is located in a pristine, tundra environment and understand that USFWS is mandated to protect the fragile environment, including the wildlife, in this unique refuge with a world class reputation. However, I must question USFWS’s logic (and motive) in banning the use of pack llamas within ANWR for a plethora of reasons which I will explain in my objection to this proposed rule. 
For many years it has been widely recognized that llamas have far less impact on the environment than traditional pack stock such as mules and horses. Low environmental impact has long been recognized as the pack llama’s advantage over traditional pack animals. An Interna…