The Bristol Bay Times
The Bristol Bay Times

Alaska Wildlife Troopers dedicates patrol vessel to former Unalaska resident and fallen trooper

It was wet and windy in Cordova on Saturday. Still though, around 50 people showed up at the dock for the dedication of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers’ newest boat, the P/V Arduser, named after retired Trooper Alex Arduser, who died a year ago while on a hunting trip in Prince William Sound.

Alex Arduser may have been the strong and silent type, but his wife, Kate, said it was pretty clear he had a way of having a lot of meaningful interactions with a lot of people.

“When we moved to Dutch, I felt like I almost couldn’t go anywhere without a fisherman coming up to me to tell me some story about their specific encounter with Alex as a game warden,” Kate said. “They were ecstatic to tell me about their ticket from Alex because they felt human.”

One of those people was Mike Towle, who received a ticket from Alex around 2010 when Towle was in his twenties, gillnetting in Prince William Sound.

“I had gone to sleep with my net out, which is pretty typical in our fishery, and I set alarms for like an hour, hour-and-a-half, to wake up and pick my net,” Towle said. “I woke up to a pounding on the cabin of my boat. I looked up and I’d overslept my alarms by like nine hours.”

Wildlife Trooper Arduser told him he had drifted half a mile over the fishing boundary. He gave Towle a ticket, but Towle remembers that Alex seemed genuinely concerned for him and wanted to make sure Towle was doing well.

Towle later had a daughter who became friends with a girl her age, and one night the two families got together for a family dinner.


“I go over to their house and see Alex. I couldn’t place him, but I was like, ‘He looks familiar,’” Towle said. “We went like a full hour or two into this family dinner before it hit me that he was the guy that gave me my ticket. I just started laughing and I called him out on it, and he was like, ‘I was wondering if you’d figure it out.’”

The families became friends, spending summers shrimping and camping.

“In our lives up here in Alaska, and as Alaskans, the highs and lows are so dramatic and can be so quick,” Towle said. “That swing is sometimes in a moment.”

The swing came on April 25, 2023, when Alex went duck hunting by himself on Egg Island in the Copper River Delta.

“It all happened really fast,” Towle said. “Kate hadn’t heard from him since the night before and so there was a lot of concern over that. He was supposed to be picked up by a plane and apparently he hadn’t made it to the pickup.”

Arduser was found drowned in a pond near his campsite. An autopsy showed that Alex had an enlarged heart, but his wife Kate said they will likely never know the details surrounding Alex’s death.

“Basically, he went duck hunting. I said goodbye to him that morning. The kids went to school, said goodbye. He was really excited about his trip. He had been there before we moved to Dutch. But yeah, there’s never going to be more to know about that,” Kate said. “As my brother says, ‘He died too young.’ It’s pretty succinct.”

The Alaska Wildlife Troopers has a large marine fleet across the state. The boats are typically named for a location the boat is serving, or it’s given out to the community to name. In some situations, they use the name of a past Trooper who’s had a great impact on the state of Alaska.

Kate said she was approached by the troopers to say they would like to name a boat after Alex. “I knew that was a huge honor,” she said.

“Alex had this amazing ability to be compassionate,” she said. “I’m hoping that that boat will carry that spirit on.”

Alaska Wildlife Trooper Aaron Fenzel worked with Alex, and he said he was proud of the work and the legacy Alex left with the organization.

“Naming this boat the P/V Arduser only seemed appropriate for a person like Alex,” Frenzel said. “[Alex] worked in some very remote areas around the state … and saw some of the worst conditions throughout his career. He did some amazing things, and helped a lot of people when those calls came in.”

The P/V Arduser is a 35-foot aluminum vessel made by Bay Weld in Homer. It’s powered by twin 425 horsepower Yamaha outboards. It has the Alaska State Trooper emblem on the sides, and then, printed in blue letters on each side of the bow, Arduser.