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Rick Sinnott

Two species of Elodea, aquatic plants commonly known as Canadian and Nuttall’s waterweed, have been found in recent years in a handful of lakes and sloughs near Fairbanks, Anchorage, Cordova, and Kenai. Native to some states in the Lower 48, these two species are the first invasive aquatic weeds in Alaska.

Unlike some terrestrial weeds that seem to be content hanging around towns and highways, Elodea is fully capable of spreading into slow-moving water bodies throughout Alaska. It has already begun. Alaska’s vaunted sport, commercial and subsistence fishing industries may eventually be the weed’s first victims...

Rick Sinnott

Recent headlines have focused national attention on massive moose die-offs in the Lower 48. The mortalities may be due largely to winter ticks and other parasites. Is that something that could happen in Alaska? It will if nothing is done about it.

Like with the hottest fashions, Alaska is often the last state in the union to be hit with trends. But that doesn’t mean they can’t happen here. If any of the parasites decimating moose populations gain a foothold in Alaska, it could spell the end of moose populations and moose hunting as we know them...

Rick Sinnott

Once as a guest on a radio talk show, when I worked as a wildlife biologist who managed human-wildlife interactions in Anchorage, a guy called to ask me what bears were good for. While I cast about for an unassailable answer, he told me what he really thought. He believed civilization had trumped nature, and bears – bears in urban areas, like those I was talking about, and all bears really – were dangerous and no longer necessary. In short, he favored eradicating them all.

But even that guy didn’t have the audacity of the Utah Supreme Court...

Rick Sinnott

When pundits claim Anchorage is only a 30-minute drive from Alaska, they must be talking about Chugach State Park. Less than 30 minutes from downtown Anchorage, the park’s Powerline Pass Trail is the best place in the world to view and photograph wild moose.

Denali National Park is better known for wildlife viewing. But, in addition to its proximity to the state’s largest city, Chugach State Park doesn’t require access permits. Visitors aren’t forced to watch orientation videos or ride buses, and moose are much easier to find and more tolerant of humans than in the national park. The moose are more habituated to humans because many of them have spent time in the nearby city and even in the park they frequently find themselves surrounded by people...

Rick Sinnott

Last summer the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation paid several private contractors to import invasive weeds into Chugach State Park. It wasn’t intentional. It was like hiring a plumber, then belatedly realizing he had walked through your house with excrement still clinging to his shoes from the last job...

Rick Sinnott

Every autumn in recent years our boreal neighbors in Sweden and Norway have regaled the rest of the world with tales of drunken moose. In most of the stories, the moose have gotten smashed eating fermented apples, the active ingredient in applejack.

Recently, near Stockholm, a “mob of boozed-up moose” threatened a homeowner , daring him to step into his own garden. The online magazine Slate called the news brief issued by Radio Sweden “the best thing on the Internet today.” ...

Rick Sinnott

On the back cover of Keith Rogan’s book are photographs of him taken before and after – minutes before and minutes after – being mauled by a Kodiak brown bear. Not a pretty sight.

But then a mauling never is. Rogan described his experience in “A Kodiak Bear Mauling: Living and Dying with Alaska’s Bears,” published by Terror Bay Publishing.

Bear maulings are rare. Victims are members of an exclusive club. Because each attack and every recovery are unique, every survivor’s story is worth listening to, especially if you live in or plan to visit bear country...

Rick Sinnott

What comes to mind when you see these words: Orphaned Moose Guardians. Do you envision caped crusaders flexing muscles in colorful Spandex unitards?

I see a petite Asian woman feeding moose calves from a bottle. It would be touching if it weren’t so wrong. It’s wrong because of the harm it could do to wild moose populations in Alaska. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

The mysterious 'F'

I was cruising the Internet the other night looking at moose pictures when I saw a photo of an Asian woman feeding a moose calf. Its link led me to a diary written by a woman identified only as “F.” Her face was masked by deliberate pixelation...

Rick Sinnott

Last summer there were so many bears crossing Dayville Road, near the Solomon Gulch Hatchery, the Valdez Police Department deployed a trailer-mounted, variable-message, LED sign. In two-foot-high orange letters, the sign proclaimed “BEARS ON ROAD.” What tourist could resist such a come-on?

When it comes to bears, far more Alaskans want to see one than shoot one. The same can be said about visitors from around the world. Many hope to see large wild animals, particularly predators, which are almost invariably scarce or long extinct back home. And many visitors are willing to pay for the experience. Unlike gold and oil, tourism is a renewable resource...

Rick Sinnott

You could sense it might go bad as soon as you heard they had packed rain ponchos instead of a tent for a two-to-three-day camping trip. Juan Duran -- a soldier from Houston, Texas, now stationed on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson -- might have made it over Crow Pass solo, but his wife Cindy and younger sister Dafne -- the other members of the party -- had never camped before.

The Crow Pass Trail is approximately 26 miles long with a 3,500-foot gain in elevation approaching from the Eagle River side. No one insisted on bringing a tent or mosquito netting, even though this has been one of the worst years for mosquitoes in a long time. None of them expected to run into a bear. The bears are what finally triggered the 911 call...

Rick Sinnott

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