Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
SELAWIK: Counting Moose in 6,500 mile Spring Survey
Alaska Region, April 27, 2007
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The moose survey crew gathered each morning to make plans for the day.
The moose survey crew gathered each morning to make plans for the day. - Photo Credit: n/a

For six days in March a cadre of biologists and pilots assembled each morning in the conference room of the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge in Kotzebue to pour over maps, check weather conditions, and hand out assignments for the day.  Their mission was to complete a moose survey of a huge area (6500 square miles) encompassing the entire Selawik River watershed and the Kauk River area in northwest Alaska.  Luckily, favorable weather graced most of the survey period—something arctic biologists never take for granted!  Low snowfall this year made spotting moose more difficult than usual, but the survey was nevertheless completed in less than the expected time.  Seven airplanes, each with a pilot and a biologist, spent 6 to 8 hours in the air each day of the survey, searching the ground intently for moose in the willow thickets, spruce forests, and tundra.

The moose survey was a cooperative endeavor among the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and Bureau of Land Management.  These agencies plan to cooperatively count moose each spring on a rotational basis in different areas of the region.  In 2008, for instance, effort will shift to the Noatak River drainage, then to the Seward Peninsula in 2009, the Kobuk River in 2010, and back to the Selawik area in 2011.  An approach like this not only efficiently uses time and money, but allows biologists to survey larger areas—a difficult task without cooperatively pooling resources.

Results of the survey are still being analyzed and expected to be available in the coming months.  The initial impression of Refuge biologists is that moose are doing fine with population numbers similar to those obtained from smaller surveys on the Refuge in the past. 

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