Alaska Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, April 21, 2005

Hunter kills another Toklat pack wolf

FAIRBANKS - A hunter has killed another wolf from the Toklat pack, a group regularly spotted in and near Denali National Park.

The alpha male of the pack, also known as the East Fork pack, was legally shot a few miles south of Cantwell in the Pass Creek area.

It was the third Toklat wolf to be killed in two months, including the alpha female, which was caught in a trap in February just outside a buffer zone established to protect the wolves after they traveled outside the park.

The death leaves the pack with six young wolves remaining, all born in 2003 or 2004. Wildlife advocates say the death could mean the end of the decades-old Toklat pack, first studied by the Adolph Murie in 1939.

"It represents a complete social breakdown," said Gordon Haber, a wildlife biologist who studied Toklat wolves for almost 40 years and is supported by an animal rights group, Connecticut-based Friends of Animals. "All the key wolves are gone."

He said the wolf death likely will reduce the number of wolves tourists see in Denali Park. While there is little doubt another pack of wolves will colonize the area if the remaining Toklat wolves split up, they probably will not display the same tolerance of tourists that the Toklat wolves did, he said.

Man mauled by bear also was attacked as a teenager

ANCHORAGE - A Soldotna man mauled by a bear is facing a long convalescence - for the second time.

Scott MacInnes, 51, who was thrashed by a grizzly bear Monday, also was mauled as a teenager.

MacInnes was in the intensive care unit of Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna on Tuesday.

He was attacked Monday morning as he jogged with his dog on a subdivision road about a mile from his home.

MacInnes told Alaska State Troopers he turned a corner and saw the bear. The bear was with at least one cub and may have been protecting a moose kill.

MacInnes ducked behind a tree but the bear charged from about 30 feet away and mauled him, slashing or biting his leg, neck, face and abdomen.

MacInnes was able to walk to the home of a neighbor, who called troopers shortly before 8 a.m.

A geophysicist and former Anchorage resident, MacInnes was mauled by another grizzly along the Resurrection Pass Trail in 1967, according to bear-book author Larry Kaniut and U.S. Geological Survey bear biologist Tom Smith. Smith has begun keeping a catalog of Alaska bear attacks.

MacInnes was weeks away from starting high school when the bear jumped him and buddy Mike Moerlein of Anchorage near American Creek. Moerlein, who drowned in 1984 after his skiff overturned in Cook Inlet, was credited with saving MacInnes' life in that attack.

Guardian Flight to open Ketchikan office

KETCHIKAN - Guardian Flight, a Fairbanks-based medical transport company, is opening a Ketchikan branch.

The company plans to hire about a dozen full-time employees, including medical care personnel and pilots. The branch is expected to open May 1.

Guardian Flight already has branches in Fairbanks and Sitka.

Spokesman Michael Pittman said the business saw a need for a Southeast base to serve the Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Metlakatla, and other remote areas. Local physician Ernie Meloche, who is an emergency room doctor at Ketchikan General Hospital, will be the medical director for the new branch. Meloche will continue his work at the hospital.

Meloche, who also is a pilot, said Guardian Flight will have a Lear jet based in Ketchikan. A crew consisting of pilots, paramedics and at least one nurse will be on-call at all times, Pittmann said.

Teen arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot students

PALMER - A 17-year-old Palmer High School student was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot students Wednesday on the sixth anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

Twelve students and one teacher were killed in 1999 by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at the suburban Denver high school. It was the nation's deadliest school shooting.

Police initially learned of the Palmer High School threat Monday night after an anonymous tip was phoned in to a hotline. The person named a specific student and said the student planned to bring a gun to school Wednesday and shoot other students, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Palmer High School Principal Wolfgang Winter said the student was suspended. Police and school officials declined to release the student's name.

"We made a determination that the student had indeed made a credible threat on campus," Winter told KTUU-TV in Anchorage.

About half of the school's students stayed home Wednesday. The student was monitored Tuesday and then put on emergency suspension after two other students told school staff that he threatened them personally. Another student reported overhearing the student making threats.

Senate bill shields subcontractors from municipal taxes

JUNEAU - The state Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would close what some call a loophole in state law that allows cities to tax subcontractors working on state projects.

State law prohibits cities from taxing contractors working on state projects such as road and airport maintenance, but subcontractors hired by those contractors are not specifically shielded from taxation for the work they perform.

Sen. Charlie Huggins, R-Palmer, said the city of Nome sent an Anchorage electrical subcontractor a bill for about $25,000 in 2002 after the company completed a job upgrading runway lighting at a Nome airport.

Paul Lantz, project manager for Dimond Electric, said his company received the bill from the city with no notice. He spent $10,000 in legal costs fighting the city, but was unsuccessful.

Lantz said his company would have included the tax bill in the cost of the contract had it known it was going to be charged the city's 4 percent sales tax in 2001. That means the state would pay the municipal tax costs for future subcontract work without a change in the law.

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