Monthly Archives: 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.

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.

Sitka herring fleet will hope for Thursday

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery stood down for the third day in a row on Wednesday. The fleet has been on two-hour notice since 8 a.m. Monday.

Extended audio: ADF&G biologist Phil Mooney

Phil Mooney is the area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in Sitka, Alaska.

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.

Japan earthquake changes Alaskan seafood markets

As the Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery gets underway, economists predict that it may be the first of many seafood markets to be affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami that happened in northern Japan.

Anticipation over prices high as herring fleet preps

The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery went on 2-hour notice today meaning the first opening of one of Alaska’s most lucrative fisheries could get underway at any moment now. While anticipation is high as the fleet prepares to fish, so is speculation about prices for this year’s harvest of herring eggs. The product’s main market, Japan, is still handling the effects of a tsunami that hit its coast two weeks ago.

Herring fleet hurries up and waits

Every year, the Sitka Sound Sac Roe herring fishery kicks off Southeast Alaska’s spring commercial fishing season. Last year, March 24th marked the fishery’s first opening. This year, despite the fact that seiners and tenders have already filled town harbors, biologists are seeing signs of a slower start to the season.

City of Sitka releases Dove Island letter

The Sitka Assembly has released a confidential letter at the center of a lawsuit against the city. Assembly members decided Tuesday against appealing an order by Superior Court Judge David George to release the letter. The correspondence was part of confidential legal negotiations between the Sitka Assembly and Dove Island Lodge.

Orca remains on Kruzof to benefit students, science

Sitka students will likely be among those benefitting from the remains of a killer whale found dead on the shore of Kruzof Island, about 10 miles east of Sitka. A team of scientists and volunteers performed a necropsy on the young male orca and recovered its skeleton on Friday.