KODIAK — Bo Sloan experienced the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge as a hunter before he became its boss.
After he was selected for a bear hunt, he spent eight days hunting and fishing in early May.
“My first introduction to Kodiak was as Bo Sloan, a private citizen on a bear hunt,” he said. “I came here as a hunter and fisherman before I came here as an employee.”
Although he didn’t get a bear, he received a visitor-level view of the 3,110 square miles he now governs.
Sloan comes to Kodiak from McGrath, located in western Alaska, where he served as the refuge manager for the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge for four years.
The Kodiak position was a promotion for Sloan, who said the wildlife and the new environment drew him to the Emerald Isle.
“It was so different from the Interior with the coastal environment and certainly I’ve always had a strong interest in bears,” he said. “I did a lot of bear work in Mississippi and Arkansas.”
Sloan and his wife Holly moved to Alaska in 2009 from the Mississippi Delta area, trading hot and humid for the cold weather of the Interior. In Mississippi he worked for the Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, one of seven refuges in the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
“My wife and I came up here during the summer of 2008 on vacation and she fell in absolute love with it in the middle of the summer,” Sloan said. “Our experience up here has been great. The people are super and the resources are unparalleled.”
Sloan has been busy since he took over as Kodiak’s manager in mid-May. In his first week on the job, he met U.S. Sen. Mark Begich at the meeting on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, held at the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. The next week he met with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski when refuge employees picked her up on a plane in Old Harbor to gave her a two-hour tour.
“Within your first two weeks you have both senators coming to visit, that’s kind of big,” Sloan said.
One of Sloan’s goals is to continue the educational outreach the refuge already does at the visitor center.
“One of the things that really excites me that we do here on this refuge, in addition to the direct biological work on the field, is our educational work that we do out of the visitor center,” he said. “That is just stellar. I just think there are few things we can do that are even as important as that . we’re educating folks in terms of natural resources and conservation.”
He plans to establish and maintain partnerships with cooperators like the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the different Native groups in Kodiak. Ensuring the needs of subsistence users are being taken care of is also a high priority.
While there is a big learning curve to the job, Sloan is up to the task, and is especially glad to have a good staff to work with.
“The staff here is wonderful,” he said. “One thing I want to try to do is to make sure I keep up with the quality and amount of production that these guys do. They really are a top-notch group.”