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Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, February 03, 2005

Judge rejects bid to halt wolf control

ANCHORAGE - A Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied a request from animal rights advocates to halt Alaska's aerial wolf control program until the issue goes to trial in May.

Friends of Animals and others are suing the state over a game management program they call a slaughter. The wolf program aims to boost moose populations in five areas of the state.

In her 15-page decision, Judge Sharon Gleason said the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the elimination of as many as 610 wolves this year would cause irretrievable damage to the species.

Alaska wolf populations are estimated at 8,000 to 11,000 animals. About 1,500 are killed every year, mostly by trappers.

"The plaintiffs have made it quite clear that to them, the practice of killing wolves from airplanes to enhance moose populations for human consumption is a practice they find morally and ethically repugnant," Gleason wrote.

"But ... the fact that the state's aerial wolf control programs are in direct contravention to the plaintiffs' beliefs is not, under the law, a factor that is considered an 'irreparable injury' in determining whether preliminary injunctive relief is necessary."

Priscilla Feral, president of Darien, Conn.-based Friends of Animals, said the group has not decided whether it will appeal the ruling. But it will continue its long-running boycott of Alaska tourism to protest the wolf program.

City seeks back sales taxes from gift shop

JUNEAU - A gift shop in the Mendenhall Mall owes Juneau more than $18,000 in unpaid sales taxes and interest, a civil action filed in Juneau Superior Court alleges.

The complaint alleges that Sarah Graves, doing business as Mystic Mountain Gifts, owed the city $18,058 as of Friday. It alleges that while Graves was properly registered with the sales tax office and remitted some of the sales taxes due the city, she did not remit all of the sales taxes due between February 2002 and September 2004.

Graves could not be reached for comment Wednesday. She was out of town, according to people working at her store.

In the last major sales tax case filed by the city, partners from two local cab companies - Juneau Taxi and Tours and Metro Taxi - agreed last year to pay the city $132,000 in uncollected sales tax and interest for taxes that went unpaid to the city between November 2001 and March 2004.

Police extend deadline for citizens academy

Juneau - The Juneau Police Department will wait for more applications before beginning the next session of its Citizens Police Academy.

The deadline for the academy was Jan. 12 but only nine people applied, Assistant Chief Gregory Browning said.

"We are hoping to get as many as 17, as we did last year," Browning said.

The program, which starts Feb. 16, consists of a series of three-hour classes and demonstrations held every Wednesday evening. Topics range from arrest law to traffic enforcement. Participants also have an opportunity to ride with an officer.

"The academy provides a good source of communication between the community and the agency," Browning said.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

People interested in applying can call Chris Ullrich at 586-0674 or visit the police department's Web site at http://www.juneaupolice.com.

Rep. Berkowitz to introduce ethics bill

JUNEAU - House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz plans to introduce legislation he says would close a gap in Alaska's ethics laws.

But the heads of the House and Senate judiciary committees say the bill to which Berkowitz would attach an amendment is too important to carry such a "political football."

Berkowitz's announcement comes a week after a report concluded that Attorney General Gregg Renkes' stock in KFx Inc. wasn't significant enough to be considered an ethics breach. KFx stood to benefit from an international coal deal between Alaska and Taiwan that Renkes helped put together.

Berkowitz's proposed amendment addresses the question of how much stock a public employee can own while taking official action that affects that company. It would limit ownership to the lesser of $5,000 or 1 percent of a business.

"We have an opportunity to deal with it, so let's deal with it," said Berkowitz, D-Anchorage.



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