Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sea otter with parasite released back into the wild

ANCHORAGE - A sea otter that may have been the first in Alaska to have a parasite that has harmed sea otters in California was released Friday back into Resurrection Bay.

The sea otter, named Uno, was found with antibodies to toxoplasma, a protozoan parasite, according to veterinarians at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, where the sea otter was nursed back to health.

The adult male sea otter was first observed on the shore near a popular skateboard park on Jan. 29. He was suffering from a fractured paw, a fractured rib, and also was found to have the deadly parasite.

Toxoplasmosis causes symptoms of meningitis or encephalitis in sea otters and other animals. It causes swelling of brain tissues and neurological signs such as seizures and stupor.

The sea otter may have acquired it from eating clams contaminated with parasite eggs. The likely host is cats.

Dog killer from Anchorage sentenced to 30 months in jail

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man was sentenced to 30 months in jail for forcing his way into a woman's home and stabbing and killing her dog.

Tommie Earl Smith, 20, was convicted early this year of torturing and killing the dog after breaking into the woman's home. The woman fled to safety but her dog remained inside with Smith.

Smith was sentenced Friday. He also was ordered to pay more than $25,000 in restitution to the dog's owner.

Smith was convicted in January of burglary, assault, destruction of property and cruelty to animals. He stabbed the German shepherd dog multiple times.

Superior Court Judge Phillip Volland said the case presented a difficult sentencing decision because Smith's behavior on Feb. 27, 2004, was inexplicable. Smith's attorney said his client was under the influence of powerful cold syrups at the time.

Retired float camp becomes nonprofit lodge for disabled

KETCHIKAN - A former floatcamp that was home to loggers and their families for many years is being turned into a nonprofit lodge for disabled veterans and children with disabilities.

A Ketchikan group is renovating the former floatcamp to give an Alaska adventure to people who otherwise might not ever experience one.

Alaska Coastal Discoveries, Inc., headed by president Steve Dempsey and vice-president Clark Stosich, has taken over a portion of the old Gildersleeve logging camp. The camp is anchored in Dora Bay off Prince of Wales Island.

With the help of two teams of AmeriCorps volunteers, they plan to transform the mossy, crumbling walkways into wheelchair-accessible decks and renovate loggers bunks into cabins fit for people with physical disabilities.

The Gildersleeve family donated the camp to Alaska Coastal Discoveries.

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