Towards the end of September, I was given the opportunity to travel down to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and I have had an amazing time so far! Kenai NWR is located on the Kenai Peninsula in the southcentral area of Alaska. The Kenai NWR is roughly 2 million acres of amazing landscapes. Before coming up to Alaska, I had idea of what this area looked like due to family visiting the area to go fishing on the Kenai River. But like most pictures, seeing the place in person does not compare. The second day I was here, I saw two moose! This was very exciting for me because I’ve never seen a moose in the wild before. They are huge! I think my count for moose sightings is at 7 and I’ve been here almost two months. Besides moose, I have seen grouse, porcupines, and salmon. No bears, but I have seen the tracks.
Working with the Kenai NWR staff, I have been able to get out into the field a few times. My first field day on the refuge was getting to go out to check the camera traps with Kenai NWR staff that they have placed strategically to collect videos. Those videos have captured the behavior of bears, otters, beavers, wolves, and so many other animals. My favorite to watch is the videos that have otters and brown bears. There were also two days I got the opportunity to help collect Black Spruce tree cookies (a crosscut of the tree trunk) that were in burn areas from the Swan Lake Fire in 2019 with a Landscape Ecologist, Research Ecologist, and a swayer. I can say personally that walking on peatlands can be a great leg work out by how spongy the ground is but be careful because in some areas you may drop a foot and lose a boot, I almost did. Along with the getting out in the field, I have been working with the Landscape Ecologist and Supervisory Wildlife Biologist to get ready for the RAD (Resist, Accept, Direct) workshop coming up. Being able to listen and talk to them both about what the Kenai NWR could look like in the future has been very interesting and has made me think of ideas that I didn’t consider. Working with them both has been amazing, and I look forward to continuing to work with them throughout my fellowship.
My time here at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is almost up but I do hope to be able to visit again soon. Thank you to the staff at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, I have learned so much and have enjoyed my time here.