Fisheries & Ecological Services
Alaska Region   


Anchorage Fish & Wildlife Field Office
Environmental Contaminants


Deformed Black-Capped Chickadees
Black-capped Chickadee. USFWS Since 1998, more than 1,000 reports of chickadees (Poecile altricapilla) with deformed bills have been reported by residents around southcentral Alaska. Environmental Contaminants specialists and USGS-Alaska Science Center researchers are co-investigators on a multi-year study of these deformed chickadees. During the summer of 2000, a nest-box study was initiated to help determine if young birds were hatching with deformities. Approximately 300 nest boxes were installed that summer with the help of a lot of volunteers. Most nest boxes were in Anchorage, but some were also in Eagle River and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in a combination of parklands and residential backyards. During 2001, the nest-box study was expanded to include the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, bringing the total number of nest boxes to 450. In 2002/2003, the study was expanded to include year-round banding efforts to identify the life-stage when the bill anomaly occurs.

Red-Throated Loons at Risk
Red-Throated Loon. USFWSEnvironmental Contaminants specialists and USGS-Alaska Science Center researchers are co-investigators on a study of declining red-throated loon (Gavia stellata) populations in western Alaska. The USGS-ASC received Species at Risk funds to examine the natural history of red-throated loons in western and southcentral Alaska and determine what population characteristics may influence declines in one area of the State and not in others. Contaminants may affect loons differentially throughout the State and the AFWFO is assisting with the contaminant analysis and interpretation portion of the study.

Short-tailed Alabatross Investigation
An Environmental Contaminants specialist worked closely with the Endangered Species Program in implementing capture of short-tailed albatross (Diomedea albatrus) in the Bering Sea. Blood samples and feathers were collected from the four short-tailed albatross that were fit with satellite transmitters. This will yield the first contaminants data on this endangered species. See "Contaminants testing on St. Lawrence Island Spectacled Eiders" (pdf) for more details.

Frog AbnormalitiesFrog in hand. USFWS The Abnormal Amphibian Study progressed to a fourth year on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, its third year at the Yukon-Delta NWR, and the first year at the Tetlin and Innoko NWRs. We examined more than 867 metamorphs for abnormalities from the combined Refuges; out of these, 78 were abnormal. See the "Abnormalities in Wood Frogs from National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska" (pdf) for more details.
Chronic Oiling and Other Possible Contaminant Effects on Threatened Steller’s Eiders
Environmental Contaminants specialists worked closely with Endangered Species, Project Planning and USGS-ASC staff to develop a study examining the effects of chronic oiling on Steller’s eiders in the Aleutians. This is identified by AFWFO as a recovery task for Steller’s eiders under the Endangered Species Act. Fieldwork performed at Sand Point and Dutch Harbor, Alaska, involved sediment and water sampling, as well as bird handling, and blood and biopsy collections.
eider. USFWS raft birds. USFWS on boat. USFWS
Environmental Contaminant specialists worked closely with the Endangered Species and Project Planning staff as well as the Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the results of a pilot study to assess the effects to Steller's eiders from contaminant releases from boat harbors. This is part of the formal Endangered Species Section 7 consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers on new boat harbors and boat harbor expansions in western Alaska.

Assessment of Formerly-Used Defense Sites and other Potentially Contaminated Federal Lands

nooclear. USFWS field of drums. USFWS

poison water. USFWS

The Environmental Contaminants Program continued to assist the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, the State of Alaska, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association to facilitate the investigation, assessment, and closure of ordnance- and chemically-contaminated sites on Adak and Amchitka Islands.


Cabin at Surprise Creek. USFWS two guys. USFWS flowing water. USFWS
Environmental Contaminants specialists conducted a site investigation of the Surprise Creek gold mining site, an abandoned gold mine located on the Kenai NWR, with funding from the National Refuge Cleanup Fund.

Tire in mud Wooden culvert Rusty drum
The Environmental Contaminants Program conducted a Level 1 Contaminants Survey for the Tetlin NWR at a former roadhouse along the Alaska Highway. This initial survey resulted in the development of an FY2004 Refuge Clean up Proposal by the Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field Office.  

Last updated: July 31, 2008