Month: March 2011

Artists work quickly to finish totem pole

The Sitka National Historical Park is concluding its yearlong centennial celebration this year. Capping that celebration will be the raising of a totem pole on April 9. The pole is already at the park, on its side in a shed as carvers and painters circulate in all directions.

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Phil Mooney: Hot spots for Sitka bears, part 1 of 2

When herring arrive in Sitka, brown bears are not too far behind. The first police calls of the season are usually in neighborhoods along the beach front, where bears are drawn in to the herring spawn, early skunk cabbage, and some of the other first foods of spring.
Many of these spring bears have recently emerged from their dens. They’ll stay in Sitka just a short time, and then move out to their established ranges. For the bears that remain, though, Sitka itself may be their home range. Over the past several years the Alaska Department of Fish & Game has worked to try to understand the dynamics of the local bear population through tracking studies.
In part one of a two-part interview, ADF&G biologist Phil Mooney discusses Sitka’s local bears, how and why they take up residence here, and why having a few mature, people-savvy bears around may not be such a bad idea.
He spoke with KCAW’s Robert Woolsey.

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Phil Mooney: Bears prefer Sitka (without garbage), pt. 2 of 2

Over the past three years, nineteen bears have been killed or captured in Sitka. Many were sows with multiple cubs, and others were juvenile boars that had killed chickens or dogs.
All, to some degree, had grown used to eating readily-available garbage from Sitka’s 35-hundred cans.
A proposed pilot project to create a centralized garbage pick-up area in the Indian River neighborhood is one way the Alaska Department of Fish & Game hopes to minimize the opportunity for bears to be tempted by garbage. The Indian River neighborhood is the sweet spot for bears: It’s a natural corridor for bear travel and the site of a major salmon stream.
ADF&G biologist Phil Mooney thinks that there’s plenty to keep a bear content in the Indian River Valley without the added allure of one-hundred trash cans. In part two of a two-part interview with KCAW’s Robert Woolsey, Mooney discusses the biological implications of the recent trash can experiment at Fortress of the Bear, a promising new hazing technique, and his belief that Sitka’s bear problem can be solved without the continued destruction of the animals.

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