Wildlife Alliance expands programs to peninsula

Jun 17, 2019

A Wilson's snipe.
Credit National Audubon Society

The Kenai Peninsula hosts 300 bird species, and spring is a great time to see, and hear them.

That’s the message from George Kirsch, who gave a presentation on birds of the Kenai Peninsula Thursday night at the Soldotna Library. Kirsch retired from a 30-year career with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, where he put his master’s degree in zoology to good use. Nowadays, he and his wife, Bev, are avid birders in Soldotna, where they moved in 2010.

Kirsch’s presentation was the kickoff of Wildlife Thursdays, a monthly series of presentations offered by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. The Alliance is a statewide group headquartered in Anchorage that is now expanding programming to the Kenai Peninsula.

“The Alaska Wildlife Alliance, as a quick background, was founded in 1978 by Alaskans with the mission of promoting ecosystem-based management, wildlife management that is ethically and scientifically founded,” said Nicole Schmitt, director of programs and development at the Alliance.

Schmitt says the Alliance offers programs in three categories — voices for wildlife encourages advocacy. Conservation coalitions form partnerships with environmental organizations, businesses, educators, hunters and trappers to promote wildlife health. And education and outreach programs, which include citizen science initiatives and the Wildlife Thursdays presentations. 

“It’s an hour long, it’s family friendly, we have a coloring station in the back for the kids,” Schmitt said. “And a wildlife expert, be that a photographer, or a scientist, or someone who’s involved with wildlife somewhere locally, will give an hour-long presentation with some Q and A. And it’s just a way for people to learn about the wildlife in their backyard.”

Elsewhere in the state, the program is Wildlife Wednesdays, but that isn’t going to fly in Soldotna in the summer up against Music in the Park, so the programs will be held the second Thursday of the month.

“We’re also going to be looking into moose, bears, some mammals, but a whole array of topics,” Schmitt said. “And we’re also taking input from the community, so if there’s a topic that you want to learn more about, please let us know through our website.”

That website is akwildlife.org. You can find the organization on Facebook, as well. And you can find plenty more interesting-sounding critters in the wilderness near you.