It used to be a tradition. A trip to Clam Gulch, clam gun in hand, on the hunt for razor clams. It was always a fun weekend, and we always came back with clams galore.
Those trips have not taken place in 9 years.
The beaches of Clam Gulch and Ninilchik on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula were once a hot bed for clams. For another year, the counts by the Department of Fish and Game showed poor growth, so the beaches will remain closed.
Ninilchik has shown slight progress with some three year old clams, but Clam Gulch is seeing a mortality rate of 90%.
Aniakchak National Monument is the least visited location with the National Park System, but back in the day, Aniakchak had one rough resident.
A footprint recently found is the first evidence that Tyrannosaurus rex once roamed in the area that is now part of Katmai National Park.
Park Rangers asked, “If you had seen this while exploring Aniakchak, would you have recognized it as a print?” Going by the photo, I would have to say “Not likely”, but I’ll remain optimistic.
The Monument surrounds the Aniakchak Volcano, which had a devastating eruption 3400 years ago. The Aniakchak caldera is 10 miles across and averages 500 meters deep. Within the crater is Surprise Lake, which is the source of the Aniakchak River.
Besides the lake, Vent Mountain is the other prominent feature within the crater. Vent Mountain is the source of the most recent eruption from Aniakchak, which took place in 1931.
A bear cub recently tested positive for Avian Flu. The cub was seen struggling to keep up with its mother and siblings and Alaska Fish & Game officials euthanized the bear cub. Tests came back positive for a highly contagious strain known as “high-path AI.”
The bear cub, found in Bartlett Cove, within Glacier Bay National Park, would have died within hours if it had not been put down, according to wildlife officials. Since the virus does not jump from bear to bear, it is believed the cub scavenged a sick or dead bird.
One female black bear in Quebec had previously been diagnosed with Avian Influenza. In Alaska, two foxes, have tested positive.
There was a break in at a Soldotna, Alaska residence recently. The culprit broke a basement window to gain entry.
An area youth was caught red-hoofed at the scene. Witness accounts varied. One neighbor woman claimed the youth fell into the window well, and couldn’t get back out, so the youth broke the window. “What else was the poor thing to do? Bellow endlessly into the night air? Who knows what that could have brought in from the shadows…”
Another neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, would have none of that argument. “Don’t let those doe-eyes fool you,” he stated. “The very same hoodlum was seen eating pumpkins right from that front porch there just a few weeks ago. I think the intruder smelled the fresh baked pie that was inside, and there was no holding the scoundrel back. These brutes think they own the woods around here; it was just a matter of time. No sooner do I clear the snow from the walk, and they are using my walkway like it is their own personal trail. They leave these huge piles of pellets behind, and when they freeze and the snowblower hits them, it’s like grape shot flying out the chute. These are rough times.”
Soldotna firefighters and U.S. Fish & Wildlife officers responded to the scene and escorted the intruder out of the residence. By all accounts, the alleged trespasser offered little to no resistance to law enforcement.
According to a Fish & Wildlife spokesperson, the youth was released to the backyard, when the homeowner refused to press charges. When asked how the homeowner was dealing with the stressful situation, the spokesperson responded, “The homeowners are doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, although they are both a bit miffed that they have to bake another pumpkin pie this close to Thanksgiving.”
This is the first time in the title round for Bear 901. She’s a 6-1/2 yo female, who was first identified in 2018. The big question in Katmai isn’t whether 901 can knock off the wide body 747 for the crown, but whether she will emerge from the den in 2023 with her first litter of cubs.
Fertilized eggs will not implant in her uterus until she has denned up for the winter. Even then, during hibernation, it will be 901’s body that decides if she is healthy enough and chunky enough to become pregnant. Without ample body fat to get 901 through hibernation and nourish a litter of cubs, the pregnancy will not occur.
747 on the other hand, being a large male, only has to worry about getting enough fat reserves to see himself through hibernation. Being one of the largest bears on planet earth, I think 747 has hit his goals. Although, no doubt, he is still putting on the calories.
Images credit: Katmai National Park & Preserve/photographer listed; Bio info credit: Katmai NP&P