BLM works hard on its permits and environmental impact statements, trying to make sure all the science that's needed is included. If the plans or permits are in the Arctic, the polar bear can be a large part of that science, and that means BLM Alaska biologist Craig Perham will be busy.
So how long has Perham been studying the white giants of the ice?
“Probably been involved with polar bears probably almost 20 years in one form or another,” Perham reflected.
Some would argue biology isn't a career as much as a calling for Craig. He was drawn to it from an early age.
“Well, I grew up in Alaska,” Perham explained, “and like most kids in Alaska, I just had interest in the outdoors. And it just kind of led to a, you know, led to a career field that I thought I could be in the outdoors and work in the outdoors. And I've been lucky it has.”
“Marine mammals and polar bears are an important piece to a lot of people up on the North Slope,” Perham expanded, “So trying to help facilitate solutions to maintain populations and help conserve those animals is kind of an intriguing piece, I guess, for me now.”
Like most biologists, Perham's work is part of a much larger effort. It goes beyond what you see on nature shows and biology program recruitment videos. He's working for a long-term goal that will help generations of Alaskans.
“It's not so much going out and collaring bears or tagging seals,” Perham said. “It's more of facilitating and trying to maintain activities that all of us humans need and want, as well as trying to conserve these animals for future generations.”
Every goal has its challenges, especially when working on issues in the Arctic. So what's the most challenging aspect of Perham's work?
“Trying to find that medium,” Perham emphasized. “Trying to find that meeting between humans and animals. You know, in the conservation of those animals you still have people on the landscape. It's pretty challenging. And sometimes those solutions aren't very visible. You have to work at them.”
BLM Alaska is always busy in the Arctic and Craig certainly has job security. What's he going to be looking forward to next?
“I guess once this pandemic is over, getting back into the field,” Perham beamed, “and creating this new marine mammal program for BLM. That's what I'm looking forward to.”
That concludes this Frontier's podcast. Make sure to check out the BLM Alaska Facebook page and stay up to date on everything permitting environmental work and balances and more. Frontier's podcast as a production of the BLM Alaska Office of Communications.