Doomed Iditarod Update

The New York Times reports that global warming has killed the Iditarod dog sled race – as near record cold plagues Alaska.

ScreenHunter_26 Feb. 17 08.21

Weather Forecast Fairbanks, AK | Fairbanks Weather | Wunderground


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19 Responses to Doomed Iditarod Update

  1. miked1947 says:

    Springtime in Alaska:

  2. The Iditarod should end. Terrible things happen to dogs during the Iditarod. This includes: death, bloody diarrhea, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, kennel cough, broken bones, torn muscles and extreme stress. At least 142 dogs have died in the race, including four dogs who froze to death in the brutal cold.

    Veterinary care during the Iditarod is poor. In the 2012 race, one of Lance Mackey’s male dogs ripped out all of his 16 toenails trying to get to a female who was in heat. This type of broken toenail is extremely painful. Mackey, a four-time Iditarod winner, said he was too stubborn to leave this dog at a checkpoint and veterinarians allowed Mackey to continue to race him. Imagine the agony the dog was forced to endure.

    Here’s another example: Veterinarians have allowed dogs with kennel cough to race in the Iditarod even though dogs with this disease should be kept warm and given lots of rest. Strenuous exercise can cause lung damage, pneumonia and even death. To make matters worse, kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that normally lasts from 10 to 21 days.

    Iditarod dogs endure brutal training. Jeanne Olson, who has been a veterinarian in Alaska since 1988, confirmed the brutality used by mushers training dogs for the Iditarod. She talked about dogs having cracked ribs, broken jaws or skulls from mushers using two-by-fours for punishment. In an article published by the University of Alaska, Dr. Olson said, “There are mushers out there whose philosophy is…that if that dog acts up I will hit that dog to the point where it would rather die than do what it did, ’cause the next time it is gonna die.'”

    Jane Stevens, a former Iditarod dog handler, describes a dog beating in her letter published by the Whitehorse Star (Feb. 23, 2011). She wrote: “I witnessed the extremely violent beating of an Iditarod racing dog by one of the racing industry’s most high-profile top 10 mushers. Be assured the beating was clearly not within an ‘acceptable range’ of ‘discipline’. Indeed, the scene left me appalled, sick and shocked. After viewing an individual sled dog repeatedly booted with full force, the male person doing the beating jumping back and forth like a pendulum with his full body weight to gain full momentum and impact. He then alternated his beating technique with full-ranging, hard and fast, closed-fist punches like a piston to the dog as it was held by its harness splayed onto the ground. He then staggeringly lifted the dog by the harness with two arms above waist height, then slammed the dog into the ground with full force, again repeatedly, all of this repeatedly.”

    During the 2007 race, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jon Saraceno wrote in his column in USA Today, “He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens. Or dragging them to their death.”

    Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, “Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective…A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective.” He also said, “It is a common training device in use among dog mushers…” Former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford wrote in Alaska’s Bush Blade Newspaper: “Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don’t pull are dragged to death in harnesses…..”

    FOR MORE FACTS: Sled Dog Action Coalition,

  3. Gina says:

    Horribly misleading post.

    One: the Iditarod starts on March 2
    Two: The route doesn’t go through Fairbanks
    Three: Current temps in ANCHORAGE (not Fairbanks) is 15 F, according to Weather underground. I can’t find a forecast for March 2, but Weather Underground predicts 32F for 2-27 and TWC predicts 33F.

    Temperatures will almost certainly not be below zero during much of the iditarod.

    • Temperatures in Alaska are forecast to be far below normal for the next two weeks.

      • Gina says:

        Well, since the race starts in 11 days, the forecast for the next two weeks won’t necessarily indicate race conditions.
        Note that the second map in your link (which overlaps with part of the race) shows warmer temps than the first map. And the third map, which shows expected temperature anomalies, only refers to the Feb 18 thru Feb 26 period, not the Feb 26 thru March 6 period, which is the period that overlaps with the duration of the race. Maybe you’re right, but nonetheless the data at your link is not clear.

      • So why did the New York Times write such a stupid, misinformed article?

  4. Gina says:

    1) Dateline, Feb. 5, location Willow Alaska. Here is temps in Willow for the month thus far:
    On February 5, the temperature was 36 degrees, and it got up to 41 that week. So their claim of temperatures in the 30s and 40s is true, at least for that location. Also, Willow is a checkpoint on the route, about 11 miles out of Anchorage. So far, nothing inaccurate.

    2) The NYT article goes on to state, several Iditarod qualifying events have been postponed, rerouted or canceled because of a lack of snow. This is correct.
    For example, the Minnesota race:

    Gotta run, will take on the rest of the NYT article later.

    • Gina says:

      Last significant claim is that there had been below average snowfall, and that seems to be true, too.

      So I have to ask: what is “stupid” or “misinformed” about the NYT article? I fact-checked the major assertions and everything seems to hold up.

      • Gina says:

        One more thing: I should also note that contrary to your headline, the NYT did not claim that global warming has “killed the Iditarod”. What they claimed was 1 – that qualifying events such as the Minnesota race I linked to above – were affected, and 2 – that higher temperatures and lower snowfall made training difficult in some areas.

    • You mean other than the fact that it is incorrect?

      “Race Marshal Mark Nordman returned my phone call. “Trail’s great, lots of snow, all the way to Nome. In fact, we might have more than average on the south side of the Alaska Range “

      • Gina says:

        Sorry, but there are no actual figures for snowfall in that post. Exactly how many inches of snow had fallen in the race area up to February 5 (the date the article was published)?

      • Alaska has been getting colder over the past decade, and had their coldest/snowiest winter on record last year,. The NYT jumped on a period of three warm weeks in January to try to make a case for Alaska warming. Complete BS.

  5. Gina says:

    False: here are the January temps (also for Willow); the warm temps, as the link I posted above show, continued well into February. Only last week (2-10) it hit 40 degrees.

  6. Gina says:

    Bottom line: there are no factual inaccuracies in the NYT article. Yes, several qualifying events were canceled or delayed. Yes, some trainers report having difficulty training. Yes, snowfall for 2012-13 is down from 2011-12. Et cetera. There is nothing wrong with the NYT article.

    • Bottom line is that the NYT article attempted to mislead the reader into believing that global warming is affecting the race, when in fact Alaska has been cooling rapidly this century.

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