Weir-tending job waits for the right person

Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- It's not a job for just anyone.

But for the person who enjoys lots of solitude, thrives on hard physical work, and doesn't mind co-habitating with bears, there's a spot open on Kodiak Island.

''It's a fairly long season to be in the field -- from mid-May until the end of September at Karluk,'' said management biologist Dave Prokopowich, who worked salmon weirs early in his 20-year career with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. ''You have no phone contact, but you have a lot of bear contact.

''We haven't had any trouble with bears in camps, though. Everybody learns to live with them and keep their camps clean.''

The job at Karluk, on the western side of Kodiak Island about 80 miles from town, is one of several fish and wildlife technician slots available, according to Doneen Tweten, manager of the Job Service in Kodiak.

Prokopowich says clearing the salmon weirs -- fences across salmon streams -- of debris can be a lot of work.

And when the salmon run, identifying and counting the fish is more than enough to keep field workers busy, he adds.

''They have to tell fish species apart and hand-count each fish for weekly escapement tallies,'' Prokopowich says. ''Fortunately we have nice, clear rivers'' so the salmon are easily seen.

Technicians take scale samples and measurements, tag fish, collect ear bones, ovaries and other samples, and mend nets.

Weir camps usually are two-people operations. Most camps have cabins with small oil stoves for heat and propane cook stoves and refrigerators. Supplies are flown in every two weeks.

Technicians start at $12.06 an hour and are guaranteed a minimum of 37.5 hours a week. Room and board is included when working in the field. Applicants must be Alaska residents, 18 years old and either hold a high school diploma or GED.

Salmon weir positions are still open in Cold Bay, Port Moller, Sand Point and several camps in the Kodiak area, said Sharon Stewart of Fish and Game.

With unemployment low in Kodiak, the local Job Service office offers a range of other employment opportunities, listing everything from seaplane pilots to warehouse workers.

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