Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
July 2014

The Chinook Tradition
Feeding Alaskans and a Hungry World

By Ken Marsh

For a great many Alaskans, the ice- and snow-free months begin and end on the water, where wild Pacific salmon are plucked with nets from the tides or pulled leaping and thrashing with rod and reel from our rivers and creeks. Of the five Pacific salmon species that appear here en masse each summer, roiling estuaries near and far as they journey up natal streams, none have gained a higher standing – as a traditional food source, cultural icon, sport fish, and economic sparkplug – than ...   Chinook Tradition Article Continued

How Salmon Find Their Way
in the Deep Blue Maze of the Ocean

By Birch Foster

On a remote Southwest cape of Kodiak Island in 2013, the skipper of a commercial tender buying salmon from fishermen near the mouth of the Ayakulik River noticed something out of the ordinary. On one of the thousands of fish he sees in a season, a single fish, otherwise robust and healthy looking, had unusually large pupils. Curious, he set the salmon aside and sent it to a fishery biologist in Kodiak who forwarded it to the state’s fish pathology lab in Anchorage for disease testing. Interestingly ...   Salmon Navigation Article Continued

Snails, Ducks, and You

By Nancy Sisinyak

Because they are so tiny, you will probably never see a schistosomid, but you will likely make their acquaintance if you spend any time swimming in certain sloughs, ponds, and lakes of Alaska.

Schistosomatidae is a family of blood flukes. Most species carry out their life cycle by parasitizing molluscs and vertebrates. In Alaska, the hosts of choice are freshwater snails and ducks, but they are not very savvy critters, and so, will occasionally burrow under the skin of unsuspecting swimmers. ...   Swimmer's Itch Article Continued

Tracking Golden Eagles

By Anne Sutton

State and federal biologists in Alaska, spurred by an easing of federal protections for golden eagles and ongoing habitat loss in western states, are pooling their efforts to learn more about one of North America’s largest raptors. A masterful predator, a speed demon in flight, a sky-dancing paramour, the golden eagle is also—in its northern latitudes at least—a bird of mystery. How many breed and raise their young in Alaska, how are they distributed, where do they migrate to ...   Tracking Eagles Article Continued

Western Arctic Caribou Herd Numbers 235,000

By DWC Staff

Alaska‘s largest caribou herd, the Western Arctic Herd (WAH), numbered about 235,000 animals as of July 2013, according to a census recently completed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). That’s down from 325,000 caribou estimated in the 2011 census, and down from the peak of 490,000 animals in 2003.

“Caribou numbers fluctuate naturally,” said Jim Dau, ADF&G biologist who has worked with the herd for more than 25 years. “However, we’ve ...   WAH Caribou Article Continued