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FAIRBANKS - Responding to an upswing in brazen riding and deaths, Alaska State Troopers have started using snowmachines to patrol along the Chena River and elsewhere in Fairbanks.
Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said it is the first time a trooper detachment has made a concerted effort to keep tabs on snowmachiners on their own turf.
The patrols began after citizens complained of reckless snowmachiners, who have been cruising down sidewalks and busy roads, he said.
This winter is among the worst on record for snowmachine-related deaths, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
Since October snowmachiners have drowned, died of exposure, been crushed to death by an avalanche, fatally crashed into trees and telephone poles, and had fatal falls. One snowmachiner drove off a cliff.
``We're not out to issue citations. What we want to do is gain compliance for safety purposes,'' said Sgt. Ronald Wall, the trooper heading up the patrols.
Starting as soon as next week the troopers plan to issue citations to violators, with fines up to $300 for those snowmachining on an unregistered vehicle.