Home of massive bears and diminutive geese: Wildlife tales from the Alaska Peninsula
By Kristine Sowl
August 16, 2017
Join us for the talk sharing tales of Alaska wildlife, followed by a light reception, co-hosted by the Center’s Draper Natural History Museum and McCracken Research Library.
About the talk
Harold McCracken, the first director of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, became a famous Alaska man in the 1920s through his adventures hunting bears, filming wildlife, and exploring culture in Alaska. His films, articles, and books added considerably to the mystique of Alaska, a mystique that still exists to this day. He spent much of his time on the Alaska Peninsula in southwestern Alaska, hunting and filming brown bears. The Alaska Peninsula is rugged and remote and has a low density of humans. It is sandwiched between the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, subject to battering storms, and has a spine of active volcanoes. It is also a rich ecosystem, a migration route for millions of birds, and a stronghold for spawning Pacific salmon which in turn support the gigantic coastal brown bears. It is still possible to experience the wonder that Harold McCracken must have felt when he visited more than 90 years ago. Sowl spent more than eight years living in this incredible landscape and will share some of her own experiences with the abundant wildlife that live there.
About our speaker
Kristine Sowl is a wildlife biologist who studies wildlife ecology in subarctic ecosystems. She currently is in charge of the non-game bird program (landbirds, shorebirds, raptors, and seabirds) at Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in western Alaska. She has spent more than 25 years working as a biologist on public lands in Alaska, including Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, and brief stints at the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge and Aniakchak National Monument. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 1985 and completed a Master of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 2003. Currently, her work is focused on the breeding and migration ecology of Beringian shorebirds, including the bar-tailed godwit, black turnstone, bristle-thighed curlew, western sandpiper, and Pacific subspecies of dunlin.