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Attention All Llama Packers and Camelid Owners/Users!

We need your help again. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) recently announced that it is proposing to eliminate the pack llama (camelid) user group as part of a proposed regulation package. This is yet another attempt (in Alaska) to ban camelids as a disease threat to wildlife that is scientifically untenable. Because of your help earlier this year we were able to defeat a similar proposal by the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska (Chugach National Forest). Your participation will be critical in order to win this next battle. Again, this could set a precedent and adversely affect our future access on public lands throughout all of the United States if allowed to stand. Please object to this proposal by submitting a comment as per the instructions below.  Thank you in advance for your support!

You can submit a comment on this to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in one of two ways described below. All comments need to be submitted on or before…
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Response to the USFWS Proposal to Ban Pack Llamas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

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 and dismissed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Ga…

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 llam…

May "Featured Hike" - Rendezvous Ridge

Here's a great hike in Chugach State Park (Southcentral Alaska) with spectacular views on a clear day. I like to access this hike from the South Fork trailhead although there is access in Arctic Valley.

To get to the South Fork trailhead access, 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. (If you continue on the main trail, it drops down to a bridge that crosses the South Fork of the Eagle River and continues to Eagle and Symphony Lakes at the end of the valley.)

To access Rendezvous Ridge, stay to the right at the junction where the main trail turn…

Precautionary Principle and Pack Llamas

The "precautionary principle" originated as a strategy to deal with possible risks where scientific understanding/study was not yet complete (i.e. nano technology and genetically modified foods.) However, the precautionary principle (precautionary approach) has also been used by policy makers to justify discretionary decisions in situations where there is a possibility of harm from making a certain decision when they deem there is inadequate scientific knowledge.

Why Should I Care?
The danger is that a precautionary (no risk) principle/approach fails to recognize there is no such thing as zero risk. For example, a scientific risk assessment recognizes the existence of "risk" and attempts to quantify it. The objective is to determine the likelihood of something happening and the consequences. Although science can provide a high level of confidence it can never provide absolute certainty. The precautionary principle places an impossible burden of proof on the user gr…

Do Llamas Attract Bears?

It's that time of year again, and the bears are coming out. When walking or hiking with llamas I'm often asked "Do llamas attract bears?" Bears have been known to attack llamas but my experience has been that llamas don't attract bears anymore than any other pack stock or pets.

In fact the llama's "alarm call" may act as a good deterrent for bears. Llamas are instinctively alert and aware of their surroundings, and usually draw attention to an intruder by making a startling "alarm call" when it senses danger. A llama is usually aware of a bear long before we can see or hear it and will let off their "alarm call" when the unwanted intruder is around. Click on the hyperlink to hear what a llama alarm call sounds like - Llama Alarm Call

However, I would not recommend leaving llamas tied out unattended while camping. In that situation llamas would not be able to defend themselves from predators such as bears or even an aggressi…