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Round Island Ramps Up for Walrus-Viewing Season, Thanks to Donors
- ADF&G Press Release

Sam Cotten, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811-5526


Press Release: April 12, 2016

Contact: Ed Weiss, Land and Refuge Manager, Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary, (907) 267-2189

Round Island Ramps Up for Walrus-Viewing Season, Thanks to Donors

(Juneau) — Walrus are already arriving on Round Island and wildlife viewers, photographers and naturalists looking for adventure are urged to pick up permits now for this summer’s visits.

Famous for its summertime congregations of bull walruses which often gather by the thousands, Round Island will open to visitors May 1 through August 15. Operations typically include a camp staffed through the summer by department personnel who work to protect and monitor walruses and other wildlife, and oversee a visitor use program and campground. Access permits for camping or day visits are available at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewingpermits.roundisland.

Funding for the Round Island program was eliminated in 2014 due to state budget cuts, but operations continued with donations received from Explore.org, Alaska SeaLife Center, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium of Tacoma, Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Milwaukee-based Oceans of Fun, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, and the Pacific Walrus Conservation Fund, along with an existing federal grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program to study Steller sea lions. These donors and others, including the National Park Service, have returned to again fund Round Island this summer.

Having staff on the island during 2016 will allow another summer’s operation of the live walrus webcam made possible by Explore.org. The camera feed is now live and available online at www.explore.org/walrus.

“We’re grateful these partners stepped forward at a time when our state is struggling financially,” said sanctuary program manager Ed Weiss. “Thanks to their generosity, the sanctuary will open this summer for the enjoyment of the public, but more importantly it will help with the protection and conservation of walruses in Bristol Bay.”

Round Island is the centerpiece of the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary which includes a group of seven small craggy islands and their adjacent waters in northern Bristol Bay approximately 65 miles southwest of Dillingham. The sanctuary was established 56 years ago on April 13, 1960 to protect one of the largest terrestrial haulout sites in North America for Pacific walrus. It also protects important habitats for thousands of seabirds, Steller sea lions and other marine and terrestrial birds and mammals. For more information on the sanctuary, visit www.walrusislands.adfg.alaska.gov .