Tiny Alaska village experiences boom in polar bear tourism

Published: Sep. 4, 2018 at 5:51 AM AKDT
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A tiny Alaska Native village has experienced a boom in tourism in recent years as polar bears spend more time on land than on diminishing Arctic sea ice.

Alaska's Energy Desk reports more than 2,000 people visited the northern Alaska village of Kaktovik on the Beaufort Sea last year to see polar bears in the wild.

Jennifer Reed of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge says the village had less than 50 visitors annually before 2011.

She says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists began hearing reports of increasing numbers of polar bears in the area in the early 2000s. As more attention was given to the plight of polar bears about a decade ago, more tourists stated flocking to Kaktovik.