Chugach Corner: Meet the new Forest Service biologist

Brandt Meixell. Photo courtesy of USFS

Brandt Meixell is the newest biologist on the Cordova Ranger District and his impressive pedigree and laid-back get-things-done attitude are welcome additions to the team.

Born in Minnesota, Brandt fell in love with the outdoors at an early age. “I’ve had a fascination of wildlife, hunting and fishing since I was a kid, and I believe it drove my career goals,” he said. “I had a very strong fascination with ducks, geese and waterfowl.”

Around the age of 19, Brandt discovered a job title that he wasn’t aware of before, waterfowl biologist, and he decided then and there to pursue that career path.

After graduating from college, he worked as a wildlife technician and traveled all over the country, and explored Canada and Mexico, migrating, more or less, with the birds. Spring and summer he worked the breeding grounds, while winter took him south to Louisiana, Texas and Mexico.

Brandt went on to get a master’s degree focusing on the population ecology of Tundra Swans at University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

He has spent the last fifteen years with the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage. While at USGS, his work covered climate change in the Arctic, avian disease, and understanding the effects of industrial disturbance in the Arctic on wildlife and their habitats.

Brandt is also part of a team that made a notable discovery of a bacterium that affects the eggs of arctic nesting geese. “I observed that many eggs were non-viable and weren’t hatching,” he said. “Working with my colleagues at UAF, we started looking at the bacteria that was inside the eggs. We discovered a new bacterium, Neisseria arctica, that we believed was responsible for a lot of this embryo mortality.”

Brandt’s new position on the Cordova Ranger District is more management-oriented, working with a broad diversity of species, not only waterfowl, but other types of birds, goats and other wildlife.

He shared there are some projects he is really looking forward to, particularly monitoring mountain goat during the heli-ski season and continuing work with the Dusky Canada Goose.

Brandt said. “The Chugach National Forest is an amazing place, and I am excited to be on the District and getting to know the critters and people that call this area home,” he said. “What a great place to be a wildlife biologist.”

In his spare time Brandt is looking forward to the immediate access to the outdoors and exploring the hunting and fishing opportunities in the area.