Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “Alaska”

Alaska State Troopers Daily Dispatch

Alaska State Troopers Daily Dispatch
(http://dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch/)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What does a typical day of crime look like in Alaska?
  • What are some true stories of Alaska search and rescue?
  • Where can I find some brief accounts of female perpetrated domestic violence?

Description:

This site looks deceptively boring. It’s just a list of dates. But click on any date and you’ll see a set of short reports organized by region. There are shootings, domestic violence, car thefts and more. All are described in a Joe Friday, “Just the Facts” fashion along with a disclaimer that people named in the dispatches are innocent until proven guilty. Perusing a month’s worth of these dispatches will give you an idea of what sorts of Alaskan crimes are prevalent where.

The Dispatch also includes search and rescue efforts. Searching on (rescue inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch/) brought up about  189 results as of this writing. Rescues included two hypothermic teens on 12/23/2013 and an 8/6/2012 rescue of rafters in the wilderness in difficult terrain.

Search Tips/Story Ideas:

Writers and other interested parties can tease out particular types of incidents using Google or another search engine that supports the “inurl” operator. The form of the search is:

[word or phrase] inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch/

For example, searching on (shooting inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch) brought up 181 results, including a 6/14/2013 incident where someone was shot in the leg while riding in the back of a pickup truck.

This site could be very helpful with giving police characters things to do, criminal characters a back story, or deciding what sorts of crime to burden an Alaskan or rural town with.

Most states have an equivalent of the Alaska State Troopers and many of them produce similar reports. Try searching [your state here] police or troopers in your favorite search engine. Then looks for a press or public affairs page.

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Alaska Fish and Game Virtual Viewing page

Alaska Fish and Game Virtual Viewing page – http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewing.webcams

Description:

Links to a number of government and private webcams offering views of eagles, bears, beavers, and sea lions. In addition, they also offer a webcam keeping an eye on arctic sea ice outside Barrow, Alaska.

Be sure to click all the tabs on the viewing page.

Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series

Alaska Wildlife Notebook Series – http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=educators.notebookseries

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where do polar bears live?
  • Where do harlequin ducks make their nests?
  • How long is a flying squirrel?

Description:

From the website, “the new edition, revised by department biologists, features more than 150 different animals. Included are: big game, small game, furbearers, nongame animals, birds, fish, shellfish, reptile and amphibians. Each chapter offers insights into the life history, reproductions, feeding habits, management and conservation of Alaska’s diverse wildlife.”

The information contained in these PDF notebook chapters varies, but almost all contain a life history and most will include descriptions of the animal and its range. Check out the entry for polar bears and see why one dominating the streets of Juneau and Ketchikan would be laughed off the pages of a book. A few entries, such as the one for Alaskan King Crab, offer advice on how to cook the animal.

 

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