Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
SELAWIK: 15 Ways to Catch a Pike
Alaska Region, August 30, 2006
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 The assignment: catch 15 northern pike of various sizes from seven different far-flung locations in northwest Alaska for a study on mercury contamination.  Although it might seem like a fisherman’s dream job, this task is not as easy as it sounds.  More than 100 miles separated some of the sites and none were accessible by road.  Snowmobiles, boats, and floatplanes provided the only access. 

Selawik Refuge staff immediately recognized that the task would be made much easier if they teamed up with the tribal offices and local residents in the neighboring Iñupiaq communities of Noorvik, Selawik, and Buckland.  Subsistence fishing and hunting is a way of life in these small communities, and local residents are both very familiar with their environment and adept at catching fish. 

The environmental coordinator in Noorvik’s tribal office eagerly joined in the project, organizing a local team that caught and shipped their sample within a few days of receiving materials and instructions.  Selawik followed suit, using local fishermen recruited by Refuge Information Technician Clyde Ramoth to sample three different sites for a total of 45 pike.  A local resident of Buckland, a community on the northern Seward Peninsula, volunteered to coordinate the sampling there, and soon sent in a fine catch.   Selawik Refuge staff rounded out the sampling effort by catching pike in the remaining two sites on the Noatak and Kobuk rivers.                 

Using the talents and expertise of our neighbors in rural Alaska not only made our job easier, but helps to build a strong foundation for lasting cooperation.  Results of this pike study should be available in summer 2007.  This project is being conducted by the Environmental Contaminants program in the Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field Office.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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