Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
SELAWIK: Moose Project Exemplifies State and Federal Cooperation
Alaska Region, December 1, 2006
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A moose stands in contrast to the snowy landscape in the fading light of a winter day in northwest Alaska.  Photo by Nate Olson.
A moose stands in contrast to the snowy landscape in the fading light of a winter day in northwest Alaska. Photo by Nate Olson. - Photo Credit: n/a

Mixed land ownership in Alaska creates challenges for monitoring and managing wildlife that roam freely across the landscape with no regard for arbitrary boundaries.  In northwest Alaska these landowners include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management, all of whom manage large acreages.  State, Native, and private lands are interspersed among these.  On nearly all these lands the Alaska Department of Fish and Game participates in wildlife management as well.  Cooperation between these federal and state agencies is vital for ensuring the long-term health of our wildlife and its habitat. 

An excellent example of this cooperation took place in northwest Alaska in spring 2006.  A high priority of the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge was to obtain a moose population estimate for the lower Kobuk River, a delta area packed with willows and sloughs in the northwestern portion of the refuge.  Despite its importance as moose habitat, no estimate of the moose population had ever been obtained for this area.  Refuge staff worked with other agencies in the region to develop a moose census project that met everyone’s needs.  For example, the participants expanded the survey area to include National Park Service lands and utilized a new estimation technique at the request of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

In March, staff from four federal and state agencies spent seven days flying low-level surveys in small planes over 4,870 square miles, an area almost the size of Connecticut.  At this time of year moose are easy to count because they are concentrated in riparian areas and stand out against the white snow and bare willows.  The results of this successful survey showed that an estimated 2,245 moose inhabit the Kobuk River delta, or about one moose per square mile.  Biologists used this information to collectively decide how best to manage this moose population which ranges over lands under the oversight of multiple agencies.

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