Unalaska Welcomes New Wildlife Trooper While Losing Public Safety Technician
Last week, KUCB reported that Unalaska's Wildlife Trooper post is shrinking due to state budget constraints. Now, we bring you more on the two enforcement officers affected — one who's leaving the island this month, and another who's just getting settled.
The former is Damian Lopez Plancarte, who's worked as a public safety technician for the last two years. He's resigning just as his job is being phased out.
"I'm going into the military, enlisting in the U.S. Army," he said. "I'm trying to be a helicopter pilot, so I'm excited."
While the bulk of Lopez Plancarte's work has focused on fishing regulations, he's probably best known as Unalaska's "eagle guy." He's been the first responder when community members report injured or aggressive bald eagles.
"I'm going to miss it," he said. "But I'm passing off the torch to two ladies over at the Department of Fish and Game. So you don’t need to worry! There will be two eagle whisperers on the island."
Most of Lopez Plancarte's other responsibilities will be picked up by the island's new wildlife trooper, Alex Arduser. He filled the vacant post in May.
Originally from Anchorage, Arduser has been a trooper for 17 years in Aniak, Cordova, and Soldotna.
He said he took the job in Unalaska in search of a "new adventure" with his wife and two children.
"Town's bigger than I expected," he said. "A lot more driving than I'm used to. Everyone seems friendly and here to work and pretty focused."
Arduser is still figuring out his workload as the sole trooper, but he expects to focus on commercial and sport fishing enforcement.
"I just try to be fair and consistent," he said. "And learn what's going on here. I've been doing this a long time, but there's always plenty to learn when you get to a new place."
Arduser said he's made no specific time commitment, but his family plans to stay in Unalaska for several years.
His job will begin in earnest when he returns from Bristol Bay, where troopers are helping to police the busy commercial salmon fishery. Lopez Plancarte's job will officially end when that season is over.