The commander of the Army National Guard unit that operates the missile-defense facility at Fort Greely has been suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct at the base – and accusations he failed to address the problem.
About 30 adults and children called for equality and greater subsistence fishery protection Wednesday morning in the ‘Idle No More’ rally in downtown Juneau. Several wore Native regalia, chanted songs, and danced as people took turns talking over a megaphone.
“The Pollock industry is coming into our water and has been for several years taking the fish away from our children and from our elders and our fish are dwindling in great numbers now and our people are struggling to try and get the fish to feed their children and to survive,” Bethel- resident Timothy Andrew says through the megaphone.
Andrew is with the Association of Village Council Presidents. He wants to spread awareness of the importance of salmon to Native Alaskans, economically, socially, physically, and culturally. Andrew highlights the Bering Sea Pollock fishery which results in high numbers of chinook salmon by-catch.
Rally participants cited ongoing subsistence fishing problems in western Alaska due to recent restrictions placed on the Yukon River by state and federal agencies, and last year’s closure on the Kuskokwim River. Susettna King is a Juneau resident and member of ANS Camp 70.
“I think it’s time they leave the land to us. We’re not going to go in there and slaughter thousands and thousands of fish. We’re going to take what we need and leave the rest so nature comes back and we’ve done that for years. And they should let us better regulate what is leaving our land and what is coming back.”
Other rally concerns include tribal representation, decline of salmon stocks, environmental stewardship, and cruise ship waste water.
George Pletnikoff of Greenpeace and Alaska Inter-tribal Council said the rally was organized by the AVCP, ANB Camp 70, Kawerak Inc in Nome, and supported by Green Peace. Rally organizers were in Juneau to attend parts of the week-long North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, which concluded yesterday.
Cruise ship tourists stopped to take photos of the march through downtown Juneau. The ‘Idle No More’ rally ended in front of Centennial Hall where a joint meeting was held yesterday between the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and Alaska Board of Fish.
The first King salmon are being caught on the Kuskokwim River and state managers don’t foresee any restrictions for at least a few weeks. Fishermen on the Kuskokwim River can use 8 inch King nets right now, something that was highly restricted last year due to a very poor run. The State’s preseason data calls for another low return this year but so far, managers say there’s no reason to restrict fishing.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game began its test fishery project at Bethel June 1. Workers fish the tides and compare their catches to past years in order to see how the run is doing. It’s a main indicator when it comes to managing the subsistence fishery.
The test fishery caught the first King salmon on June 8. State manager, Travis Elison, says the run is likely about a week late. He says they are cautiously optimistic about the run and they don’t foresee any fishing closures at least until later in the month.
“So, the recommendation for right now is to remain with the main stem of the Kuskokwim open to subsistence fishing to all gear types, unrestricted gill net mesh meaning you can use large mesh gear for King salmon,” Elison says.
The recommendation was shared in a large teleconference meeting of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group. During the meeting, several fishermen up and down the river shared fishing reports which showed that Kings are being caught in the lower part of the river.
James Charles is from Tuntutuliak, about 50 miles downriver of Bethel near the Bering Sea coast. He says even though there is still some snow on the ground there, he has caught 23 Kings since last week. He says that he also caught five reds and a few chums and that other fishermen are catching salmon too.
“People are pleased with what they are catching this time,” Charles says. “I see some fish on the fish racks, not like last year.”
Bethel’s Tribe, Orutsararmuit Native Council, is again conducting subsistence surveys of families near Bethel. They surveyed 16 families about their fishing to June 10th. Many families reported that they were drying smelts but five families said they were starting to fish for salmon, either with set or drift nets.
About 30 miles upriver, Mike Williams Sr. of Akiak says some fishermen are catching Kings in their set nets but there is little drifting happening because most families are working on getting their fish camps ready. But he says they are hearing good reports from the nearby village of Akiachak and fishermen there are averaging between three and five Kings per drift.
“Fishers in Akiachak caught Kings a week ago,” Williams says. “And I think a good portion of them are passing by quickly.”
Most fishermen in the middle and upper Kuskokwim River reported that residents are concentrating on catching white and shee fish now before the salmon arrive.
The very first King salmon have been caught in Kalskag and Aniak within the last two days.
Sport fishing is a major part of life in the upper Susitna Valley, but a combination of low numbers and a late break-up are making life difficult for both Fish and Game and area fishing guides.
There’s some concern about efforts to advance a North Slope to Fairbanks natural gas trucking project. The issue came up at a Fairbanks City Council meeting this week, where a primary focus was whether a borough created public utility is competing with a private company to carry out the sate supported project.
Several Juneau teenagers are heading to the nation’s best dance programs this summer – one is even going to Russia. Within the next few weeks, five students from Juneau Dance Unlimited will leave Alaska to practice their techniques and expand their horizons in New York City, Pittsburgh, Boston, Houston, and Moscow.
14-year-old Marissa Truitt has been dancing for ten years.
“You just get such a great feeling when you dance, a really good feeling that I don’t get from doing anything else.”
For 16-year-old Maire New, dance is discipline.
“You’re always striving towards perfection in dance, so for me that’s really a fun thing to work on every day.”
Summer for most teenagers is the time to relax and spend time with friends. For these girls, summer means dancing in some of the country’s most competitive and rigorous programs. Truitt is heading to the Pittsburg Ballet Theater. New will start with a 3-week program at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in New York City, then travel to Moscow for further intensive dance study and language acquisition.
15-year-old Gabrielle Duvernay says dance is a priority.
“It always comes first, I mean my family of course, but it definitely comes before friends. It’s mainly in the front of my mind all the time.”
In January, Duvernay traveled to Seattle to audition in front of artistic directors and ballet masters from the country’s best dance companies. She applied for five programs, got into two, was waitlisted for one, and finally decided on the Boston Ballet School.
All three girls dance up to 7 days a week. On at least three of these days, they’re at JDU’s studio taking classical technique ballet class with artistic director Philip Krauter.
Krauter describes his teaching style as demanding yet kind.
“The ones that are serious about their training usually are self-critical themselves; they don’t need any more from me. I try to give them as much positive, correct information as I can to train them properly and then it’s up to them to take it and do something with it.”
Truitt says there is a lot of pressure from other girls associated with dancing in these summer programs, “especially during auditions, like weird eye looks at people and like, ‘Am I better than her?’ and all this really unnecessary pressure.”
When asked how she deals with that, Truitt says, “You just have to ignore everything and focus on you and the teacher and the music and know what you’re doing and realizing that you love ballet, you’ll do it no matter what, even if people are judging you.”
Despite the stress and self-criticism, the girls see the upside of working hard and pursuing their passion. For New, ballet has opened doors to the Russian language. When she studied dance at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in New York City last year, her teachers taught in Russian.
“If you would be going across the floor and they’d yell, ‘Khorosho’. That would mean good, so that was nice to hear, and then if you were doing something wrong, they might say, ‘Net’, which means no, but they might say it multiple times; that’s really bad.”
As a recipient of a competitive scholarship through the US Department of State, New will spend six weeks this summer in Moscow studying Russian language, culture and ballet at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
Dancers at this level rely on their families for emotional and financial support. Tuition and housing for the summer dance programs cost around 5-thousand dollars; airfare is separate. Truitt worked as a dance assistant at JDU and saved 8-hundred-dollars to help pay program fees. New has applied for fine arts scholarships through the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.
Dancing is a family affair. New’s father is a veterinarian and her mother, Diana Ross-Miller, works at his clinic. She says being a supportive parent involves endless encouragement and sacrifices.
“Certainly the time involved in just simply having her be at the studio so much dancing and training is very intense and takes away from other possibilities. Like for example, on this beautiful day, we might not be going to the beach for a long walk with our dog because we’re taking her to the studio to go dance, so there are definitely trade-offs but we think in the long run it’s really worth it.”
The girls, including Duvernay, hope all the sacrifices, training, and auditions will lead to a dance career, “but I also am going to college. That’s one definite that I’ve always kept through my life. I’m going to college because if I get a career crushing injury then I have to have something to fall back on. I can’t just rely on my body for my whole life. I think I’m going to get a business degree,” Duvernay says.
Truitt says if she can’t be a professional dancer, she’d like to attend college and become a nutritionist or physical therapist. New’s ultimate dream is to join a professional ballet company after high school and get her college degree while dancing.
Monday a body was found in a wooded area near Bartlett High School in Anchorage. Police say the body was decomposed and there are no obvious signs of foul play. An autopsy may help discover the cause of death. No identity has been released yet.
An all-terrain vehicle loaded with three people tipped in Butte Creek last Friday and one person was later pulled out dead.
Two made it to shore, but the body of Philip Douthit, 57, of Eagle River was found later under a log downstream.
The accident happened near the Alpine Creek Lodge on the Denali Highway. Helicopters from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the State Troopers conducted the search.
A woman was attacked by a cow moose in Kincaid Park in Anchorage Monday.
Parks and Rec says the incident occurred when the woman and her husband were taking an evening walk on the Mize Loop Trail and inadvertently came between the moose and her calf.
The woman was reportedly kicked in the head, neck and back and taken to the hospital.
Warning signs are posted at the park about calving season but Superintendent Holly Spoth-Torres says the public needs to be aware that all of the city is moose country and this is a touchy time of year.
The National Park Service says there will be no charges against the man who shot a cow moose last week near the Denali National Park visitor center.
Discharging firearms in the park is illegal, but the Park Service has concluded that Robert Servid of Eagle River was just trying to protect his family. They also say they will try to capture the moose’s two calves and offer them to zoos and wildlife parks.
Servid went immediately to authorities after the incident and described how the startled moose had been charging his children.
Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wants the Senate to pass its bill by the Fourth of July recess. He promised an open amendment process, complete with votes on all sorts of tweaks to the bill. Rest assured, many of those amendments will be laced with politics.
Texas Senator John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the chamber, introduced an amendment that infuriated some Republicans and Democrats who wrote the bill. It would effectively require 100% border enforcement before anyone can gain legal status.
Tuesday afternoon a reporter asked Cornyn if he’d rewrite his bill to appease other senators.
“No. If by that you mean making it ineffective, no,” he said with a laugh.
Reid called Cornyn’s amendment poisonous. That’s not exactly a collegial way to start the conversation. Still, with two procedural votes, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to begin debate.
A group of eight senators – four Republican, four Democrat – wrote the legislation.
President Barack Obama strongly supports the plan. In his weekly address he said Congress has addressed bits and pieces of the issue over the past few years, but it has the chance to pass something much larger.
“It’s a compromise. Nobody will get everything they want, not Democrats, not Republicans, not me,” he said in the recorded message. “But it is a bill that’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve repeatedly laid out for common sense immigration reform.”
Those include a path to citizenship that’s at least 12 years long for the millions of illegal immigrants in the country today, tougher penalties for employers who knowingly hire unauthorized workers, and heightened protections at the borders.
The president said he wants Congress to deliver him a bill to sign by the end of summer.
“We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that. They’ll try to stoke fear and create division. They’ll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed,” he said.
Both Alaska’s senators voted to move the bill forward. At the very least, six Republicans will need to vote for the bill for it to pass. Democrats will be hoping Senator Murkowski will vote with them; she voted to pass an overhaul in 2006.
And Senator Begich’s moves will be closely watched, too. He’s one of six senators up for reelection in 2014 in Republican states.
Both Murkowski and Begich said a major concern is making sure fish processors have the workforce they need.
Murkowski said people in the state remain divided over the J-1 visas – the work permits for foreigners who fill the processing plants.
“Well you’ve got folks in Kodiak for instance, that look at this and they want these local jobs for their folks,” she said after the second vote Tuesday. “So for them some of the seasonal workers coming in are more of a concern.”
The J-1 visa program expired last November, and Begich says fish processors are having trouble filling job openings this season.
Begich said he’s hopeful the new plan will lump those workers in with the so-called W-visa workers. W-visas will cover all sorts of low-skilled employees. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO joined up and crafted them.
“We think it will work, but we want to be clear that there’s no doubt it can be utilized,” Begich said.
Begich added if the Senate does not interpret W-visas to include J-1 permits, he’ll try and amend the bill.
There’s some optimism in the Capitol the Senate could pass a sweeping piece of legislation. Speaker of the House John Boehner said the president could have something to sign by the end of the year.
That’s later than the President is asking for.
Anchorage Police announced a new policy on Tuesday aimed at preventing officers from shooting at moving vehicles. A practice that has increased over the past few years.
There have been 10 officer involved shootings involving moving vehicles over the past decade. That concerns Anchorage Police Department Chief Mark Mew. That’s why, he says, the Department has added a new section to it’s use-of-force policy.
It goes like this: ”Unless use of deadly force is otherwise justified, an officer shall not shoot at a moving vehicle if the vehicle being use is being used as the only weapon.”
He says one situation that would justify shooting at a moving vehicle, is if an officer, in the line of duty, found himself in the middle of a drive-by shooting. But otherwise, the policy forbids shooting at vehicles.
The policy is part of a larger plan, Mew says, to prevent officer involved shootings, which have drawn unwanted attention to the force that serves Alaska’s largest city. There were three officer involved shootings with moving vehicles in 2013 and one in 2012.
Mew says, once the trend was identified, leadership researched how other law enforcement agencies around the country have reduced such shootings.
“Certainly we’re seeing a trend of suspect ramming patrol cars and trying to run down officers. That seems new to us. Our officers have been responding in the way that they felt best but we thought it would be better for everybody, for the public generally, for the officers if we retooled a bit and tried to make sure we weren’t in those circumstances anymore and had better tools to deal with them,” Mew said.
Mew says researchers can’t pinpoint exactly why there’s been an increase in such incidents. Earlier this year the APD met with State Troopers and the FBI to discuss how to reduce officer involved shootings.
Mew acknowledged that the new policy came out of those meetings. He says officers have been informed of the policy and, “by and large they we’re on-board.”
He says the overall use-of-force policy is under review and more changes will likely be announced in the fall.
Timeline of APD shootings where officers fired on a moving vehicle in 2013:
- On 2/19/13 officers attempted to stop a stolen vehicle driven by Carl Bowie III. Mr. Bowie rammed multiple police vehicles during his attempt to flee, and almost struck a police officer during the incident. Two officers fired at the suspect vehicle; Mr. Bowie died at the scene.
- On 2/24/13 Luisa Pedro rammed his vehicle into a police car while officers attempted to apprehend him following a gun brandishing incident. At one point during the incident an officer fired his weapon; minor injuries were reported, with no fatalities.
- On 5/11/13 Ryan Portlock was driving a stolen vehicle when he drove the vehicle toward a patrol car, striking it as it pushed past. The suspect then crashed through a fence in order to escape. At one point during this altercation, two officers fired their service weapons at the vehicle, striking the truck. There were a total of three occupants of the vehicle. No one was hit or injured.
Carved into the Bering Sea shelf are some of the ocean’s largest underwater canyons. The bigger ones run more than a mile deep, and in spots they’re dense with corals and sponges. They’re also home to some commercial fisheries, and factory trawlers will often go there to catch pollock. Now, fisheries regulators have charted a path for managing this habitat, which allows for future conservation measures.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings can be dry affairs. They happen in hotels or conference halls. They involve lots of acronyms and hours upon hours of testimony. Lawyers and scientists will sometimes outnumber fishermen. So, it’s a little odd to see activists holding up a hand-painted banner the length of a swimming pool at one of these things, and even weirder to have a large blimp make an appearance for the meeting.
“It’s green, with rainbow colors, and it has a 75-foot banner of a sperm whale in huge lettering that says, ‘Protect my home.’”
That’s Jackie Dragon, an oceans campaigner with Greenpeace. The airship is part of a massive conservation campaign over what her group calls the “Grand Canyons of the Bering Sea.” They’re worried trawl nets are scraping away at the canyons’ sea life.
This week, they argued their case before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. In the end, what they got was a commitment for more research on the canyons. The council also agreed to start examining ways to reduce the impact the trawl and longline fleets have on the coral populations.
Dragon calls that a win for environmental groups.
“The fact that they’re doing the short-term protection immediately and getting that started out at the gate together with this longer range plan is something that we have to commend.”
The council was unanimous in its agreement for a research plan, and they discussed the possibility of eventually implementing a fishery ecosystem plan — a holistic approach to management that can include conservation measures like marine reserves.
But they didn’t call for any immediate closures in the region, like some advocates for the canyons wanted. Members of the fishing industry warned that shutting down fishing would be premature, without a specific goal for that action. Stephanie Madsen directs the At-Sea Processors Association, a factory trawler group.
“First it’s corals. Then the blimp of Greenpeace has a whale on it. Then World Wildlife talks about marine mammals and birds. People talk about chinook bycatch, although we’ve already taken management measures for that, and our footprint diminished in the Pribilof Canyon with that activity. So, I get confused about what the objectives are.”
Madsen adds that she’s somewhat skeptical of Greenpeace’s motives, because in the past they’ve aggressively campaigned for an end to factory trawling altogether. She’s noticed a change in tactics: Instead of protesters chaining themselves to ships, they’ve got lobbyists working the regulatory process. But ultimately, she thinks the end purpose is similar.
Jackie Dragon says Greenpeace still opposes factory trawling. But instead of wholesale bans, they’re taking a more strategic approach.
“I think it’s important to be reasonable. I don’t think that they’re in a position tomorrow to create closures for representative portions of the habitat in the Bering Sea.”
The North Pacific Council will be following up with another look at impact fishing has on corals in the area at the end of the year.
An ambitious expedition to study ocean trash launched from Seward on June 7. The Gyre project is a collaboration between the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska SeaLife Center, among other organizations, to document the impact of marine debris along Alaska’s shoreline – and across the globe.
The project began when a team of sixteen marine biologists, educators, and artists boarded a research vessel to collect data and materials along the Kenai Peninsula. What they find will become part of an exhibit at the Anchorage Museum this winter.
Alaskans have been thinking about marine debris lately, thanks to all the trash washing up on the state’s coastline after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The Anchorage Museum’s Julie Decker will get a first hand look at that trash this week, although it’s not the kind the kind of thing she usually does for her job as the museum’s chief curator.
“This has been fascinating,” she said. “This has been an education for me, for the artists, for the scientists to talk to the artists.”
The idea for the project came from Howard Ferren, Director of Conservation at the Alaska SeaLife Center. He says trash – and especially plastic – has been a huge issue in our oceans over the past few decades. “It’s a very recent phenomenon and yet we already have maybe a hundred million tons of plastics in the oceans,” he said. “There’s no easy way to define that. But what we can tell you is that there are impacts. Significant and growing.”
View Gyre Expedition in a larger map
That’s why Ferren approached the Anchorage Museum about three and a half years ago to propose a collaboration that would link science with art. Although the project now involves dozens of people and as many moving parts, the Anchorage Museum’s Julie Decker said the integration of all the elements will be pretty seamless.
“We’re organizing it as an art exhibition, but I don’t think you can separate art and science in this case,” Decker said. “The artists serve as researchers into the issue. They’re passionate investigators of how this affects our planet and most of the artists come to their work because they live along the ocean – see it, lived it, started to collect it, and it made its way into their work.”
Decker said the exhibit will feature a wide range of artwork, both from artists on the expedition this week and from others from around the world. For instance, “There’s a woman who collects trash from the beach in California and repackages them as souvenirs,” she said. “Artists from Finland collecting trash on their beaches and creating false aquariums. Somebody creating snow globes with beach trash along the Yukon River.”
The exhibit will also include the scientific results of this week’s research as well as a series of videos by National Geographic filmmakers. When it all comes together, what Decker really hopes the project will spark is discussion.
“We’re not advocates for a point of view,” she said. “What we’re interested in is talking about our oceans, talking about plastic, talking about human consumption and human action and I think it’s a fascinating story and one that really can impact everyone and I think everyone can understand how it’s tangible to us.”
Decker herself is joining the expedition for one day this week to participate in a beach cleanup at Hallo Bay in Katmai National Park.
The exhibit will run at the Anchorage Museum from February through August 2014. After that, it’ll be re-packaged by the Smithsonian Institution to tour the Lower 48.
A group of University of Alaska, Fairbanks Professors will develop an engineering school in Mongolia over the next few years. UAF signed a contract this spring with the American University of Mongolia in that country’s capital, where the new school will be based.
A team of seven professors from UAF are developing curriculum and designing classroom space for an engineering school at a newly formed American University of Mongolia.
Rajive Ganguli is heading up the project. He’s the chairman of the Mining and Geological Engineering program at UAF.
“For me and my team it is very exciting,” says Ganguli. “It is wild to think you’re going to engineering school from scratch. So the good things, the stuff we like about the education system here and the stuff we hate, we get to remedy it. So what we will do is review engineering education in some of the top universities and we have our own ideas and we’ll steal from the best.”
Ganguli says Mongolia and Alaska are natural partners when it comes to mining in the far north.
“I think that our cold climate engineering expertise is very relative to Mongolia and they can benefit from it and so we have academic agreements with Mongolia institute of science technology and with Erdenet Mining Corporation,” he said.
There is no federal funding going toward the effort. Ganguli doesn’t have a solid dollar amount on what development of the school will cost, but he expects it will be in the tens of millions of dollars. He says nearly all of it will come from private sector mining companies in Mongolia.
“Mining has been booming in Mongolia for a few years,” says Ganguli. “Their economy is taking off. They’re one of the fastest growing economies in the world at about 17 percent and so when you grow that fast, you need lots of good employees especially in engineering given their investment in infrastructure and mines etcetera.”
Officials with American University of Mongolia hope to admit the first engineering students within two years.
A Sitka-based barge line hopes to return to serving Southeast by the end of the year. It depends on a shipping-industry shuffle, where a much larger company is trying to absorb its chief competitor.
Samson Tug and Barge used to do a lot of business with loggers and mills around Southeast Alaska.
But as the timber industry shrunk, the line’s service area moved farther west. The Sitka-based company now carries cargo to and from Seattle, Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, King Cove and Dutch Harbor.
The list could expand – later this year.
“We started in Southeast, we still have our headquarters in Southeast, so why not be in Southeast. It just makes sense,” said Samson Tug and Barge Vice President Cory Baggen.
“We’ve looked at entering the Southeast market over the years. But with two carriers in the region there really hasn’t been room for a third,” she said.
That number could shrink later this year.
Samson does some barging to and from Sitka. Baggen said the purchase allows her company to compete in other communities.
“Our plans right now are to serve Ketchikan, Juneau, Wrangell, Petersburg, all of Prince of Wales Island and Metlakatla,” Baggen said.
Northland’s barge line will continue to exist as a Lynden subsidiary. But operations will be combined in Southeast towns that both serve.
The purchase has to clear a number of hurdles. Among the concerns: The combination could effectively create a monopoly.
Lynden CEO Jon Burdick said that’s why his corporation supports Samson’s Southeast expansion.
“There is a regulatory review process and the state of Alaska wants to ensure that where there’s competitive overlap between Lynden and Northland, that there’s alternative services available,” he said.
Burdick said buying Northland expands Lynden’s service area to Western Alaska, as well as Hawaii.
But he said Lynden’s Alaska Marine Lines subsidiary will not reduce Southeast port calls.
“At a minimum, they’ll receive equal frequency of service. In terms of equaling what AML’s doing now or what AML plus Northland’s doing now? AML plus Northland,” he said.
Burdick expects most Northland employees will either keep their jobs or find new ones with Alaska Marine Lines or Samson Tug and Barge.
Baggen said her company will be hiring.
“Eventually, we’ll probably double our size, probably have somewhere between 120 and 160 employees. … Most of those employees will be in Alaska,” she said.
Baggen understands her company will compete against a much larger operation.
She said Samson will do that by providing personalized customer service.
“We’re not the box-box carrier. We’re not going to be the one that says you better do it at this time in this way. We don’t care how you want to do it. We’re going to say, hey, what do you need and we’re going to do the best we can to come in and really work for the customers,” she said.
Both companies expect the sale to be completed by the end of this year.
And both say they’ll be ready for a quick transition.
A young brown bear cub was recently found near Platinum and turned into the Fish and Game office in Bethel. The bear was a tiny male, 9 pounds in all. It was reportedly being chased by some dogs so Jay Bitney picked him up to try to keep him safe. Bitney had been in the area for work, crushing gravel.
On June 3, he contacted the Alaska State Troopers about the bear and they sent out a wild life enforcement officer to the village.
Unfortunately, it was soon learned that the bear had to be euthanized. Bear cubs are not desired by most zoos, according to Phyllip Perry, area management biologist for the state. He found that out after checking with Fish and Game office in Juneau that works with zoos and other animal facilities for possible placements of wild animals.
“At that point we were told that there are not any zoos in the U.S. that are requesting a single brown bear cub that was a male,” Perry said.
Perry says that’s in part because it takes a lot of work and funding to keep a brown bear in captivity which can live up to 25 years old.
Even though this cub was just 9 pounds, he was born in the winter time in a den where he stayed with his mother until Spring. It is unknown what happened to his mother as she wasn’t seen in this case. Perry says in all cases, it’s best for people to play it safe if they ever do come across bear cubs or even baby moose this time of year, and ask the important question, “where’s mom?”
Perry says this time of year, she is usually close by.
“Mom is going to be very defensive, so most people’s instinct is, at that point, to back away,” Perry said. “You don’t want to run away but you want to slowly and deliberately leave the area.”
The Federal agency responsible for commercial fisheries in the Bering Sea have made, what some consider, a landmark decision Monday, June 3rd. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, or NPFMC, has decided to consider classifying the Bering Sea Canyons as a wildlife preserve.
The NPFMC is conducting its meetings in Juneau this week. The Federal agency is comprised of 15 members from Alaska, Washington State and Oregon. Alaska’s Governor nominates five candidates to serve on the Federal fisheries council.
Marine biologist, John Hocevar, is the Ocean’s Campaign Director for Greenpeace. Hocevar is in Juneau and says the NPFMC’s decision to consider naming the Bering Sea a wildlife preserve took a lot of time.
“And after 10 years or so, the council is finally considering whether to protect the largest under water canyons’ in the world, out in the Bering Sea,” Hocevar said.
The Federal council will review the available science on the Bering Sea Canyons, and decide whether or not to start a scoping process.
“So that could range from, really from just about nothing at all, all the way to fully protected marine reserves,” Hocevar said. “Which would be closed to fishing, and this could be very helpful to not just the ecosystem but for the long term sustainability of fisheries in the Bering Sea.”
Hocevar says environmental groups and Tribal Governments including the Alaska Federation of Natives, and the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council have been lobbying NPFMC governing body to protect the Bering Sea from over-fishing for over ten years. Hocevar outlined some of the options the Federal agency could take.
“They could range from status-quo, doing nothing at all, all the way up to actually creating some really meaningful protections,” Hocevar said.
Lots of research will be needed not only to the ecological effects, but also the economic effects, the marine wildlife preserve designation would cause in the Bering Sea.
Hocevar says Greenpeace started its global environmental advocacy here in Alaska in 1971 when they stopped nuclear testing out in the Aleutians. Since then, Green peace has traveled the Alaska coast asking communities what kinds of changes they are experiencing.
“They were seeing fewer fish, they were having a harder time with subsistence as well as commercial fishing, and more than anything we heard that they would really like it if we could help them get the big factory trawlers farther off their shores, which led us specifically to the canyons,” Hocevar said.
Since then, Greenpeace has been the first to document and see the Bering Sea Canyons. Scientists have since nicknamed the Bering Sea Shelf as the “green belt” due to its high productivity.
“It was very interesting to hear that only a small percentage of the catch was coming from these canyons,” Hocevar said. “So it’s high enough that there is a threat to these fragile coral and sponges but not so high that it will be costly to move out of the canyon.”
Hocevar says the Pollock fishery currently uses less then four percent of the canyons. He added that the Chairman of the NPFMC felt the council had enough information to make a decision on whether or not to designate the Bering Sea Shelf as a Marine Wildlife Preserve. That vote is expected on Monday, June 10.
An open call for vessels that could fill in for the Tustumena ferry has ended, and the state came up empty-handed.
The Department of Transportation was looking for ships that could carry passengers and vehicles between Homer and Kodiak, and other communities in the Kodiak region, in early July while the Tusty wraps up repairs. Only one company responded — Bering Marine Corporation of Anchorage. DOT spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says the vessel they offered wasn’t licensed to carry passengers, so it didn’t meet the state’s requirements for the route.
This means there will be no ferry service to Homer, Kodiak, and the Aleutian Chain until late July, when the Tustumena is finally scheduled to come out of drydock.
A man overboard from a fishing vessel in the Copper River Delta could not be revived when he was pulled back aboard Monday. He’s identified as Cornell Perry Bean Junior, 40, of Kake, who went overboard from the “Esperanza.” They say he was only in the water for about ten minutes.