Anchorage Fish & Wildlife Field Office
Deformed Black-Capped Chickadees
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
Environmental 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.
||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
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.
|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
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.
|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.
|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