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Rachel Wheat, a graduate student at the University of California Santa Cruz, searches for salmon carcasses on the banks of the man-made spawning channel of Herman Creek, near Haines, Alaska.
Wheat is collecting DNA samples of bears from bear saliva left on salmon carcasses as part of research for her doctoral dissertation. She hopes to determine if partially-consumed salmon carcasses can serve as a viable source for bear DNA to genotype individuals. She also looking to determine a minimum population estimate for the number of bears using the Chilkoot Valley and the ratio of males to females, particularly in light of increase human presence.
The bear DNA collection is part of her dissertation which looks at how the availability of salmon affects eagle movement, bear activity, and subsistence fishermen. EDITORS NOTE: Images of Wheat capturing bald eagles for the bald eagle portion of her study are available here: http://denglerimages.photoshelter.com/gallery/Bald-eagle-research-Chilkat-River-eagle-migration-study/G0000GTyPvah7eiQ/
During late fall, bald eagles congregate along the Chilkat River to feed on salmon. This gathering of bald eagles in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is believed to be one of the largest gatherings of bald eagles in the world.
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