By Geoff York
As you might imagine, this sort of work entails some long days and a certain amount of stress on the crew. A key player in a successful field season, and actually the one who makes it all possible, is the pilot. To fly animal capture work for the US federal government, you have to be carded – which basically means meeting fairly high minimum flight hours, having prior low level flight experience, and passing a check flight. Our pilot in the Chukchi exceeds those requirements several times over and this is his third year on this project.
Along with the initial requirements, animal capture work is governed by a specific type of contract that has additional requirements, including setting work days length and maximum flight time per day. It also requires two days of rest in any fourteen-day window, and we are up against that deadline. Looking at the calendar, we have to take today and this Wednesday off, regardless of the weather. As sometimes happens, today is pretty nice, and we all wish we could be flying.
We’ll spend the day catching up on paperwork, laundry, restocking and going over the field gear, and, well, taking a bit of rest ourselves!
WWF International Arctic Programme polar bear specialist, Geoff York, is currently in the Chukchi Sea area with the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service, conducting research into the status of polar bear populations in the area, and is blogging for the WWF Climate blog while he is there.