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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service: Herb Bergquist

Herb Bergquist
Herb Bergquist with a fox he harvested in 1978.

Herb Bergquist is our Region 5 Ecological Services decision support coordinator in Massachusetts. He works in the emerging technology of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to provide our natural resource managers with needed mapping and spatial information. He also dedicates time to recruiting and teaching youth hunters and hunters new to Massachusetts.

5 Questions for Herb

1. Do you hunt/fish and if so what?

I have hunted and trapped almost my whole life – deer, pheasant, duck, grouse, muskrat, beaver, raccoon … My early experience hunting was the time in my life when and where the instinctive connection with the land and wildlife was born in me.

2. Who got you into fishing or hunting?

My dad. I can remember our early-morning hunting trips as if they were yesterday, riding down the back roads with my dad and Sammy, our trusted black Labrador retriever seated between us in that old red GMC truck, headed toward a favorite hunting ground.  My tangible bond with the land and its wild inhabitants was developing – fostered by my father and for that, I am forever indebted. 

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Slowly Swimming Toward Recovery, California’s Sea Otter Population Holding Steady

otter
A southern sea otter settles down to rest in a small patch of Egregia feather boa kelp. Photo by Lilian Carswell/USFWS

Our biologists work alongside conservation partners to conserve and protect the southern sea otter - Enhydra lutris nereis - a federally listed Threatened species found in California. Scientists with the Service’s sister agency, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), calculate a population index each year through an annual range-wide field survey to inform and guide conservation and management of the species. For 2014, USGS reports the population index as 2,944. For southern sea otters to be considered for removal from the “Threatened” species list, the population index would have to exceed 3,090 for three consecutive years.

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Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service: Mary Price

Mary Price
Mary Price with a Dolly Varden char on Long Lake, Alaska. Photo credit: Steve Klein/USFWS

Mary Price, a fisheries biologist in the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program in our Alaska Region, is a champion for getting money on the ground for sportsmen and -women in Alaska. She manages 41 Sport Fish Restoration grants totaling nearly $75 million to fund 179 projects in Alaska, including fisheries research, surveys, boating and fishing access, and aquatic education. These grants are used by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to maintain healthy populations and provide some of the best and most diverse fishing opportunities in the world.

5 Questions for Mary

1. Do you hunt/fish and if so what?

I have fished since I was a toddler on family camping trips.  I have participated in many kinds of sport fisheries, but with a focus on cold water species in the flowing waters of creeks and rivers.  One of my favorites is rainbow trout fishing in wade-able creeks.

I started hunting when I moved to Alaska in 1993.  I was self-motivated to get into hunting, as it seemed like the Alaskan thing to do.  I lived in a remote town when I first moved to Alaska, and the game meat was a much healthier and economical alternative to store-bought.  I hunted caribou, Dall sheep, ptarmigan, and ducks and geese.  I don’t hunt often these days, but I will always be grateful for the opportunities and experiences I had.

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Environmental Justice Program Looking for Topics

As part of our commitment to Environmental Justice, we are proud to be a sponsor of the 2015 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program in March. The conference will give examples of what works and point out initiatives that probably won’t. It will also provide an opportunity to share ideas and challenges to Environmental Justice.

The program is now looking for individuals to submit abstracts, not to exceed two pages, related to environmental justice.  Abstracts are due November 21. The overall conference theme is Enhancing Communities Through Capacity Building and Technical Assistance.    

See here for more information on the call for abstracts.

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service: Clint Wirick

Saturday, September 27, is National Hunting and Fishing Day, so this week we are focusing on Service workers who are sportsmen and -women who share their craft.

Clint Wirick
Clint Wirick (right) on a turkey hunt with a friend.

Clint Wirick is a wildlife biologist who works in the southern half of Utah doing habitat restoration. He works mainly with private landowners who voluntarily restore habitat to benefit wildlife. One of the best things about his job, he says, is that he has no typical day.  One day he’s on a ranch talking with a landowner and planning habitat restoration while standing on a sagebrush flat surrounded by Aspen trees.  Another day he’s wearing a pair of waders and working with contractors to restore native trout habitat.   

5 Questions for Clint

1. Do you hunt/fish and if so what?

I do hunt and fish.  I love the experience and have chased many species of fish and wildlife.  I am a bird dog enthusiast and love upland hunting with pointing dogs.  I love chasing elk and mule deer with a bow.  I love high mountain lake and stream fishing for native trout.

2. Who got you into fishing or hunting?

 My dad and my uncle introduced me at a young age.  They taught me the importance of being together and enjoying family relationships as much as hunting or fishing skills.

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‘Today’ Show Visits Our Forensics Lab

Forensics Lab
FWS forensic ornithologist Pepper Trail compares evidence items to samples from the lab's standards reference collection to confirm species identification. Photo credit: USFWS

Morning-show viewers got an inside look at our lab in Oregon, “the only full-service wildlife crime lab,” as lab Director Ken Goddard told Today. The show featured some of the cutting-edge work done at the lab to help prosecution of animal-related crimes.

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service: Kim Strassburg

Soul River
Kids check out some wildlife at Tualatin's Soul River event. When we asked Kim for photos, she said she is always the one behind the camera, so she sent some of her work. Credit: USFWS

Kim Strassburg, the visitor services manager at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, has been a key player in the ground-up development of visitor facilities, the opening of the refuge to the public, and an integrated education, recreation and volunteer program designed to engage urban people in the outdoors. Kim says her primary duty is to coordinate good people to do good things, which is what she is best at. Her reward comes from looking out the window and seeing wide-eyed youngsters participating in volunteer-led programs, hearing many different languages spoken at the annual Tualatin River Bird Festival, making new connections with community organizations who share common goals, and hiring young adults and nurturing up and coming conservation professionals. Like many Service employees, her day is anything but typical. In the morning, she might call the plumber (got to keep those public facilities working!), then she might work on a funding proposal and finally she might spend time outdoors helping folks experience nature. 

5 questions for Kim 

1. Did you grow up in a city? If so, where, and what enabled you to develop a connection with nature? If not, why is urban outreach important to you?

I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and Indianapolis, Indiana. My connection to nature started as a young child. I have memories of: catching bluegill at the local reservoir (which also provided city drinking water); catching bugs and frogs in my backyard, which backed up the interstate highway; and catching grief from elementary schools teachers when they found out I had brought praying mantises and earthworms into the classroom after recess.  

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Artist Pays Tribute to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Gift of the Arctic Refuge by Homer artist Rika Mouw is a handmade box that unfolds and contains a necklace of handmade paper birds, with each bird carrying a different quotation on its wings from those who campaigned for the establishment of the Arctic Refuge. The birds are strung on sinew and are clasped with a piece of carved caribou bone. The gift box is lined inside with the text of the Land Order that established the Arctic Refuge in 1960. Rika Mouw's piece has been selected for display at the Secretary of Interior's office in Washington, DC.

Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service: Tamara Johnson

Tamara Johnson
Tamara Johnson (bottom, right) works with a high school to bring the students closer to nature. Credit: USFWS

Tamara Johnson works as the energy biologist in the Georgia Ecological Services Field Office in Athens. Along with overseeing renewable energy projects, she gets to do recovery work with aquatic invertebrates and environmental outreach throughout Georgia.

5 Questions for Tamara

1. Did you grow up in a city? If so, where, and what enabled you to develop a connection with nature? If not, why is urban outreach important to you?

I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta, in a house surrounded by trees and lots of wildlife. Being homeschooled for several years allowed me to make my classroom the outdoors many days, where I enjoyed catching caterpillars and lizards. This unstructured outdoor time was where my appreciation for wildlife was born. 

2. How did you keep a connection to nature while living in an urban area?

Growing up on the edge of a major city meant that an urban setting and a more natural setting were not mutually exclusive; I could appreciate any green space that was available, whether it was a tree-lined neighborhood street or watching squirrels fight over acorns on a college campus. Engaging with urban nature helped me relish the even more natural areas that were not as readily accessible, while still valuing all of the wildlife found within the city limits. 

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Meet Your Fish and Wildlife Service: Akimi King

Akimi King
Connecting people with nature, Akimi King bands ducks with summer high school interns at Tule Lake  National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: USFWS

Akimi King is a Fish and Wildlife Biologist at the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office in Oregon. She has a blast working on the Service’s Schoolyard Habitat and Connecting People with Nature programs. 

5 questions for Akimi

1. Did you grow up in a city? If so, where, and what enabled you to develop a connection with nature? If not, why is urban outreach important to you? 
I grew up in the big city of Los Angeles, California.  My parents were instrumental in making my connection with nature through Girl Scouts, summer vacations, fishing, camping, hiking, and dirt-bike riding (before I knew better, in fragile desert and coastal habitats).

2. How did you keep a connection to nature while living in an urban area? 
Neighborhood parks (catching tadpoles, frogs, lizards, fish, snakes, insects), gardening with my grandparents (seeing the importance of pollinators in our kitchen garden), my backyard (where I dug a pond to keep the fish), my back porch where I had a dozen terrariums for all the creatures I caught), and school (where a teacher incubated chicken eggs and I got to take home a chick, year after year.  She also raised silk worms and we walked several blocks daily to collect mulberry leaves). 

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