Wild Things


Curiouser and curiouser. There have been a number of unusual sightings this summer. Eric Holle and Katey Palmer were kayaking near Kuiu Island when they saw over 100 sea otters. Eric said two-thirds of them had young.

Unusually large numbers of loons have also been observed in several places this summer.  Dan Schultz saw a group at Snafu Lake, and a higher number than normal have been in Lutak Inlet.  Usually loons are observed alone or in pairs, but this summer they have been seen in groups of 15 to 30.

Gary Friedly, a birder from San Diego, Calif., and a visitor to Haines, reported seeing an unusual bird at Mule Meadows up the Chilkat River.  It had a black head with bright fufous wings and was feeding on insects.  He thought it was either a Brambling or an American Redstart.  An American Redstart has been sighted here in the past, and Bramblings have been observed along the British Columbia coast and as far north as Anchorage and Kodiak.

Sally McGuire has noticed an unusually large number of bats in the Chilkoot area.  She thinks they are Little Brown Bats.  According to the Alaska Natural Heritage Program’s bat monitoring project, these bats have been known to hibernate in Southeast Alaska.  I have also observed them hibernating in central interior Alaska, but little is known about their migration or home ranges.  In one study, these bats migrated 220 kilometers from Ontario, Canada.  Migrations and home ranges are poorly documented for Alaska.

Ray Staska has a toad pond next to his house and it has produced prodigious numbers of young toads this year.  They started migrating out into the forest in mid-June all at once, making piles of toads in the hundreds crawling all over each other.

The sockeye run on the Chilkoot started out small, but has been picking up.  According to Randy Bachman at Fish and Game, there are two distinct populations of sockeye on the Chilkoot.  Apparently, the early one had quite a poor return this year, but the later run is looking better. 

The pink salmon have started running, so more and more bears are being seen.  Senior sow Big Mama Jama (BMJ) has a new cub this year, as does Speedy.  BMJ will be 25 this year, which is elderly for a bear.  Speedy will be nine. 

Speedy 2, Speedy’s daughter from her previous litter (aka Green Tag or Girlie), seems to have disappeared.  Speedy 2 is regularly seen along Lutak Road and the Chilkoot River eating dandelions or catching fish, but she has been reported missing by Lutak residents Marlena and Gary Saupe, campground host Bob Deck, summer visitors Etta and Dan Meeks, Ann Puffer and Alaska Nature Tours guides.  She was last seen near Salmon Run campground on July 2.  Saupes reported gunshots about that time, but no bear has been reported as being shot. 

Also along Lutak Road, two cubs of the year without a sow have been reported.  Nothing is known about what happened to the sow.  Two sub-adults have also been observed roaming the Chilkoot.

Let us know what you are seeing. Go to http://www.takshanuk.org to enter your observations or see what others have observed, or email pam.randles@takshanuk.org or call 766-3542.


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