All posts by Chris Cocoles

Black Bear Attack In Mining Area Under Investigation

ADFG file photo

After two recent fatal black bear attacks in Alaska,  the suspected bruin that mauled the teenager trail race runner who died, was killed by Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials. The other tragedy, which occurred at the Pogo Mine on June 19, is under ADFG investigation.  (that bear was also killed). Here’s the release:

The fatal mauling of a Pogo Mine contract employee by a black bear on Monday, June 19, remains under investigation by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Early reports suggested the attack showed signs of being predatory, but biologists say further examination of events and the bear involved is needed before a definitive conclusion can be reached.

Two Pogo Mine employees were reported attacked by the bear, one fatally, late Monday morning. The surviving employee was rescued by a mine helicopter after calling for help on a radio. Interviews after the incident indicate the bear broke off a subsequent attack on the survivor when the survivor deployed bear spray. The bear was subsequently killed by a mine employee who returned with a rifle. A department veterinarian who accompanied Alaska Wildlife Troopers to the scene to recover the bear carcass identified it as a cinnamon color-phase adult male. A necropsy has been performed on the bear and analysis is pending.

News of two people mauled and killed by black bears in separate incidents on successive days in separate regions of the state has many Alaskans on edge. The first attack occurred Sunday during a popular running event near Bird Creek south of Anchorage. The bear believed responsible for that attack was killed by department staff on Tuesday.

Wildlife managers generally divide bear attacks on humans into defensive and non-defensive (which includes predatory) categories. While bear attacks of any kind are relatively uncommon, predatory attacks on humans are rare. Of 207 bear attacks on humans recorded between 1980 and 2014 in Alaska, three were categorized as fatal predatory black bear attacks, according to retired state wildlife biologist John Hechtel.

Ranging from Florida and Texas north to the Brooks Range, black bears are North America’s most common bear species. Alaska’s black bear population is estimated to be at least 100,000. Black bear hunting is allowed in the Pogo Mine and Bird Ridge areas.

Bears may approach people out of curiosity, to test dominance, because they are food-conditioned or, rarely, because they are predatory. Interagency bear safety experts recommend people hiking, running or biking through bear country to carry a deterrent such as bear spray, or a firearm adequate for killing a bear. It is critical the deterrent be immediately within reach, where it can be quickly and easily accessed in the event of a sudden encounter.

When a bear is encountered at close range, people are advised to stand their ground, ready their deterrents, group up, and watch the bear. Stay firm and talk to the bear in a firm but calm voice. Don’t play dead, run, or panic. If blocking the bear’s path, try to move out of its way. If the bear continues to approach, follows, or is intent on a person, assert your dominance and become more aggressive. Don’t retreat. Shout, make yourself look large, use your deterrent or, if you don’t have a deterrent, throw rocks or sticks in an effort to drive off the bear. If the bear attacks, fight with anything you have, concentrating on the animal’s face or muzzle.

For more detailed information on how to respond in a bear encounter, visit http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livingwithbears.bearcountry.

Black Bear Suspected In Fatal Attack Killed

Black bear file photo by ADFG.

Earlier this week, news broke about a fatal black bear attack on a teen running in a trail race near Anchorage.  The bear suspected in the mauling was killed. 

Here’s the Alaska Department of Fish and Game release:

(Anchorage) — A black bear believed responsible for Sunday’s fatal mauling on Bird Ridge was among four bears shot and killed Tuesday evening by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Small aircraft were used to locate the animals Tuesday after a ground search on Monday was unsuccessful.

An adult male black bear killed last night had a recent wound to its lower jaw and has been tentatively identified as the animal suspected in the Bird Ridge mauling. The bear at the attack scene on Sunday was shot at by a Chugach State Park ranger and thought to have sustained a wound to the head. A necropsy on the bear is planned and samples have been collected for analysis.

Three other lone adult black bears were shot in close proximity to the site of the attack in an effort to ensure the correct bear was killed. Extremely steep, rugged, brushy terrain made the use of tranquilizer darts impractical. In addition to a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter used by the department, Alaska Wildlife Troopers also planned to search for the bear, but were delayed when their helicopter was called to another matter.

Anchorage Beats Out Austin As “America’s Most Adventurous City”

Men’s Health magazine named Anchorage America’s most adventurous city in a recent poll. (FRANK K./WIKIMEDIA)

From its spectacular setting on Cook Inlet, the abundance of wildlife within the city limits and close proximity to high-adrenaline activities, Anchorage gets the honor of being named America’s No. 1 “Most Adventurous City” in a ranking determined by Men’s Health magazine.  You can see the full descriptions for the Top 10 at the above link (the 100 that were ranked from best to worst are below). Anchorage beat out a top five of Austin, Texas, Madison, Wis., Minneapolis and San Diego, so that’s quite a distinguished list Alaska’s largest city bested in the competition.

Here’s the release from Men’s Health (h/t to Jourdann Lubliner, the magazine’s associate director of public relations, for the info):

With resident bears, almost a million acres of parkland and a very high ratio of recreational businesses to total businesses, Anchorage, Alaska, debuted No.1 on the list. Austin, Texas. ranked No.2, with 227 miles of trails and 20,714 acres of green space across 300 different parks. Madison, Wis. took the No.3 spot -its residents’ overall activity levels rank high and the city touts the 3,359-acre Lake Monoma, surrounded by pristine biking and running trails.

To determine the rankings, Men’s Health studied the following criteria:

  • Percentage of people participating in various sports in the past 12 months (GfK MRI), such as archery, backpacking, canoeing/kayaking, horseback riding, snorkeling and more
  • Percentage of people meeting activity guidelines (CDC)
  • Percentage of people who engage in vigorous activity five or more days a week (CDC)
  • Ratio of parkland to city size (The Trust for Public Land)
  • Recreational business counts percentage (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Recreational household expenditure percentage  (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Recreational Consumer Price Index (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

MOST ADVENTUROUS CITY #1: ANCHORAGE, AK

This city is truly wild, with resident bears and almost a million acres of parkland. In fact, a whopping 84 percent of Anchorage is parkland. In addition to the sprawling wilderness, Anchorage scored 99 out of 100 in our Metrogrades assessment of residents participating in outdoor sports and activities. The city also had a very high ratio of recreational businesses to total business within the city. People here can hike, fish, kayak, and mountain bike in their backyard.

Get to know your own environment better by booking a specialized guide, suggests James Minton of Visit Anchorage. You’ll enjoy any area a bit more if you hike with a historian, photographer, or biologist, he says. They may tell you to kayak through a sea of icebergs to get to Spencer Glacier, where you’ll attach crampons to your shoes and hike around the area. Or, head to Chugach State Park, one of the largest in the US, where you’ll find popular trailheads for hiking, biking, and ATVing.

America’s Most to Least Adventurous Cities:

1.     Anchorage, AK
2.     Austin, TX
3.     Madison, WI
4.     Minneapolis, MN
5.     San Diego, CA
6.     Raleigh, NC
7.     Virginia Beach, VA
8.     Boston, MA
9.     Seattle, WA
10.  Fargo, ND
11.  Portland, OR
12.  Burlington, VT
13.  Chesapeake, VA
14.  Sioux Falls, SD
15.  Denver, CO
16.  Phoenix, AZ
17.  Lincoln, NE
18.  Jersey City, NJ
19.  Aurora, CO
20.  Fort Worth, TX
21.  Bakersfield, CA
22.  St. Paul, MN
23.  Salt Lake City, UT
24.  Colorado Springs, CO
25.  Columbus, OH
26.  San Jose, CA
27.  Lexington, KY
28.  Omaha, NE
29.  Washington, DC
30.  Manchester, NH
31.  Providence, RI
32.  Riverside, CA
33.  Charlotte, NC
34.  Dallas, TX
35.  Plano, TX
36.  Albuquerque, NM
37.  San Antonio, TX
38.  Houston, TX
39.  San Francisco, CA
40.  El Paso, TX
41.  Nashville, TN
42.  Boise City, ID
43.  Billings, MT
44.  Anaheim, CA
45.  Des Moines, IA
46.  Laredo, TX
47.  Reno, NV
48.  Los Angeles, CA
49.  Durham, NC
50.  Lubbock, TX
51.  Kansas City, MO
52.  Oakland, CA
53.  Chicago, IL
54.  New York, NY
55.  Corpus Christi, TX
56.  Tampa, FL
57.  Wichita, KS
58.  Atlanta, GA
59.  Cincinnati, OH
60.  Jacksonville, FL
61.  Cheyenne, WY
62.  Oklahoma City, OK
63.  Orlando, FL
64.  Sacramento, CA
65.  Indianapolis, IN
66.  Fort Wayne, IN
67.  Little Rock, AR
68.  Bridgeport, CT
69.  Tucson, AZ
70.  New Orleans, LA
71.  Las Vegas, NV
72.  Portland, ME
73.  Norfolk, VA
74.  Louisville, KY
75.  Honolulu, HI
76.  Milwaukee, WI
77.  St. Petersburg, FL
78.  Columbia, SC
79.  Fresno, CA
80.  Richmond, VA
81.  Greensboro, NC
82.  Tulsa, OK
83.  Toledo, OH
84.  Stockton, CA
85.  St. Louis, MO
86.  Philadelphia, PA
87.  Pittsburgh, PA
88.  Charleston, WV
89.  Winston-Salem, NC
90.  Baltimore, MD
91.  Baton Rouge, LA
92.  Buffalo, NY
93.  Newark, NJ
94.  Miami, FL
95.  Cleveland, OH
96.  Wilmington, DE
97.  Memphis, TN
98.  Detroit, MI
99.  Jackson, MS

100. Birmingham, AL

Nushagak-Mulchatna River Kings’ Limit Reduced

 

Anglers fish for salmon on the Nushagak River. The Nush-Mulchatna River drainage king salmon bag and possession limits are being reduced. (Brian Lull)

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: 

The bag and possession limits for king salmon 20 inches in length or greater in the Nushagak-Mulchatna River drainage are reduced from two per day, only one of which may be greater than 28 inches in length, to one per day, any size. In addition, the annual limit of king salmon 20 inches or greater in length from the Nushagak-Mulchatna drainage is reduced from four fish to two. The limit for king salmon less than 20 inches remains at five per day, five in possession, no annual limit. These restrictions are effective beginning 12:01 a.m., Friday, June 23, 2017.

Up to two king salmon recorded before Friday, June 23, on the harvest portion of an Alaska sport fishing license or harvest record card do not count against the two king salmon 20 inches or greater in length that may be harvested on or after June 23.

These restrictions are made in accordance with 5 AAC 06.361 Nushagak/Mulchatna King Salmon Management Plan as adopted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. To ensure that the projected spawning escapement does not fall below 55,000 fish, the plan directs the Department to restrict the king salmon sport fishery in the Nushagak River when the Department projects the total inriver run will be less than 70,000 fish. Through June 19, approximately 18% into the run, an estimated 2,621 king salmon have passed the Portage Creek sonar. Therefore, the Department is unable to project at this date that the inriver run of king salmon will exceed 70,000 fish. Due to the low in river projections, a conservative approach is warranted to slow down the Nushagak sport harvest.

The Department will continue to monitor the king salmon escapement and may liberalize this restriction or further restrict the sport fishery as specified in the management plan. For more information, contact the area office in Dillingham at (907) 842-2427, or the Dillingham Sport Fish regulation recorder 907-842-REGS (842-7347).

229-Pound Halibut Takes Lead In Homer Derby

Dominique Brooks of Maryville, Tennessee fishing with Alaska Coastal Marine and Capt. Chris Andrews on the Nautilus 2 caught this 229.0-pound halibut. The derby ticket was sold by Central Charters. (Facebook/Homer Chamber)

Check out the above 229-pound halibut that was leading the Homer Halibut Derby.  The derby continues through Sept. 15, so there’s plenty of time for anglers to get in on the fun and prizes, and there are plenty, as the Homer Chamber of Commerce explains here:

 

  • Jackpot Prize for largest fish of season – $10,000 + $0.50 per ticket sold
  • Major Tagged Fish Prizes give a chance to win the $10,000 cash from the Homer Chamber of Commerce or $50,000 in Cash from GCI.
  • Tagged Fish Prizes include over 75 fish worth $1,000, $500 or $250. All tagged fish winners receive an immediate cash prize plus are then eligible to win the 2 major tagged fish prizes of $10,000 & $50,000, announced at the 9/20 Jackpot Halibut Derby Gala!
  • Released Fish Prizes: Catch and release a halibut measuring 48 inches or more and be entered to win $1,000 at the Jackpot Halibut Derby Gala.
  • Kids prizes: 12 years & under end-of-season drawing at the Jackpot Halibut Derby Gala.
  • Catch a Lefty: Catch a left-handed halibut and win $100.
  • Value-added coupons provided with every derby ticket sold from Kachemak Gear Shed & McDonald’s

 

 

Black Bear Fatally Attacks Teen During Trail Race

(JEFF LUND)

 

 

One of the thrills of being in Alaska’s untamed wilderness areas also represent an equal amount of danger, even in the close vicinity to the state’s largest city. Near Anchorage, a 16-year-old boy competing in a trail race was killed during an attack by a black bear. 

Here’s KTUU with more:

Alaska State Troopers have identified the victim of Sunday’s bear mauling at Bird Ridge as 16-year-old Patrick Cooper of Anchorage.

Dozens of runners, including the teen, toed the starting line that morning for the mountain race that begins at the start of Bird Creek Trail, and meanders through heavily wooded terrain. As for the ascent, that’s a 3,400-foot vertical climb that spans three miles for adult racers and half that for juniors, those who are 17 and younger taking on the mountain.

Challenging terrain, but in those three decades, many said the territory had never proven to be a big problem.

That all changed shortly after noon Sunday.

“I’ve been running in the mountains for 30 years,” said Brad Precosky, a director of the race. “People come down off the trail and say they’ve run into a bear. Sometimes that means nothing; other times, it’s really serious. Like this.”

Such a tragedy; condolences to the young man’s loved ones.

Update: There’s been another fatal bear attack in the state:

 

Hang In There, Dad And Happy Father’s Day

My dad sometimes scoffs at posing for pics so I had to sneak this one in when I visited him with my dog, Emma. Happy Father’s Day, Dad! (CHRIS COCOLES)

My dad hates anyone talking about him or bringing attention to him, so I’ll keep this short and to the point. Happy Father’s Day to my pop, who is on injured reserve right now but on the mend. I’ll see you soon!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

 

 

Pebble Partnership, Alaskan Native Organization Team Up

l (CHRIS COCOLES)

 

In today’s episode of, “As the Mine Turns,” Pebble Partnership and ASRC (Arctic Slope Regional Corp.) Energy Services Alaska agreed to partner up toward the controversial Bristol Bay-area mine. Opponents of the mine were quick to question the ASRC group’s motives, according to the Alaska Dispatch News.

Here’s ADN’s Alex DeMarban with more:

The Pebble Partnership announced Tuesday that it has contracted with ASRC Energy Services Alaska, an ASRC subsidiary, to increase contracting opportunities for Alaska Native village corporations with land holdings near the controversial gold and copper project in Southwest Alaska.

After signing a settlement with the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency in May that ended a lawsuit over EPA’s effort to restrict the project, Pebble is moving ahead with plans to seek state and federal permits for development. That phase, plus construction and operation if permits are acquired, could open new possibilities for contracts, training and local jobs, said Mike Heatwole, a Pebble spokesman.

AES was chosen because it has experience working with Native village corporations to boost business opportunities associated with North Slope resource development, Pebble said in a statement.

“We want to maximize the opportunity for folks in the region, and this is one way is to enhance the business relationships we have with villagcorporations,” said Heatwole.

Alannah Hurley, executive director for Pebble opponent United Tribes of Bristol Bay, said Pebble wants to “divide and conquer” communities in a region where people polled on their opinions have shown strong opposition to the project.

She said ASRC, the Native corporation for communities from the oil-rich North Slope, hundreds of miles north of Bristol Bay, was out of line.

“No one from Bristol Bay has ever told the people of the North Slope how to develop their resources,” Hurley said. “It’s tragic ASRC cannot extend us the same courtesy and respect.”

$50 Million To ADFG From Fish & Wildlife Restoration Programs

 

The following press release is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it will distribute $50 million to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs.

Nearly $33 million will be for wildlife research and management, public access to wildlife resources, and hunter education programs and shooting ranges, a 12 percent increase from last year. More than $17 million will be for sport fish research and management, public access to waters for recreational boaters and sport anglers, angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation programs, and sport fish hatcheries.

“The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs are the lifeblood of fish and wildlife conservation in Alaska and absolutely essential to the successful pursuit of our mission,” said Commissioner Sam Cotten. “Since the inception of these programs, the funds have allowed our biologists to manage the fish and game species in our state to provide sustainable food resources and recreational opportunities for generations to come. We are thankful to Alaska’s anglers, hunters, and trappers for contributing to conservation in such a significant manner.”

Pittman-Robertson funds are critical to Alaska’s wildlife management programs, supporting projects that range from estimating moose numbers to ensure sustainable populations and maximize hunting opportunities to the use of DNA methods for counting brown and black bears, deer and other wildlife. Wildlife habitat enhancement projects such as those currently underway on the Kenai Peninsula, Tanana Valley, and Matanuska-Susitna valleys are also largely paid for with Pittman-Robertson funds.

The recent reintroduction of wood bison to their former range in Interior Alaska could not have been done without Pittman-Robertson funds and the state’s Hunter Information and Training Program relies on these funds to provide its Basic Hunter Education, Bowhunter, and Muzzleloader certification courses and maintain public shooting ranges.

The Division of Sport Fish leverages their Dingell-Johnson funds to support a wide range of research and management projects from the Kenai River sonar that is used to count returning king salmon to sheefish and Arctic grayling projects in the Interior. Sport anglers in Southcentral and Interior Alaska benefit from the Division’s two state-of-the-art sport fish hatcheries that provide fish for stocking in over 290 freshwater lakes, streams, and saltwater locations.

The Division partners with communities across the state to provide or improve angler access like the replacement of the aging Homer boat ramp in 2016. In addition, the angler education program is supported with Dingell-Johnson funds. The program encourages kids and families to both learn and participate in sport fish activities, continuing a history of introducing new anglers to the joy of sport fishing.

“We are happy to partner with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on behalf of sportsmen and women,” said Greg Siekaniec, Alaska Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife in Alaska. A lot of great work has been accomplished over the years. Just this past December, the Department’s Statewide Access program was awarded the national Boating Access Excellence Award. If you get out to the Susitna landing this summer, it is one great example of a boating access project that has been supported by Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program funds. The landing protects the stream bank, which helps keep the Susitna River healthy and the fish coming back and provides thousands of anglers access to hot fishing spots.”

 

Kenai Moose Hunters Will First Need Antler Configuration Orientation

Photo by Kristine Sowl, USFWS

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Hunters hoping to harvest moose on the Kenai Peninsula this fall must first complete an online moose antler configuration orientation approved by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The new regulation, adopted by the Alaska Board of Game during its February meeting, affects moose hunters in Game Management Units 7 and 15 (Kenai Peninsula, Kalgin Island, head of Turnagain Arm) and goes into effect July 1, 2017.

“It’s important to know the rules and regulations of the area you plan to hunt,” said Jeff Selinger, Kenai area wildlife biologist. “Hunters need to review the criteria that make an animal legal for harvest before they enter the field.”

The Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee proposed the measure to help reduce the number of sublegal bull moose taken by hunters on the Kenai Peninsula. During the general moose season in Units 7 and 15, bulls with a spike antler on at least one side or those with antlers spanning at least 50 inches or having a minimum of four brown tines on at least one side are legal to harvest. Moose with fork antlers remain illegal in these units under general season harvest.

Hunters who complete the 19-question online orientation will be emailed a certificate of completion that can be printed and carried in the field while hunting moose in Units 7 and 15. The orientation is available now at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=quiz.moose_identification_intro .

“We encourage anyone planning to hunt moose anywhere in the state—even longtime moose hunters—to take the orientation,” said Director Bruce Dale. “I took it and found it very informative.”

Before taking the orientation, hunters are encouraged to review the “Is This Moose Legal?” video and the information provided in “Identifying a Legal Moose” and “More on Moose and Moose Hunting” at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=moosehunting.resources .