State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Hunters bag two relocated bears

FAIRBANKS - At least two hunters have benefited from the state's predator control project aimed at protecting moose calves near McGrath.

Two of the 81 black bears biologists caught and moved from the McGrath area have been killed by Interior hunters elsewhere.

Research coordinator Pat Valkenburg said both bears were shot at bait stands, one near Livengood, about 80 miles northeast of Fairbanks, and another near the Rex Bridge on the Parks Highway, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks. Another McGrath bear was wounded at a bait stand on the Rex Trail.

Biologists caught and moved 90 McGrath-area bears in three weeks - 81 black bears and nine grizzlies - to increase the number of moose for local hunters. Bears were darted from helicopters or caught in traps and dropped off at remote airstrips.

So far, six of the 55 moose calves biologists are tracking with radio collars have died, four killed by bears. Last year, 10 of 85 radio-collared calves had died as of June 2 and approximately 60 calves were killed in the first month.

"Statistically there isn't much difference between this year and last year at this point," Valkenburg said.

Wolves, which killed more than 30 percent of newborn calves during last year's study, have yet to kill a single radio-collared calf. That will likely change, Valkenburg said.

"Wolves have so many other things they can eat at this time of year," the biologist said.

Boat crash kills young man from North Pole

NORTH POLE - A North Pole man died Saturday night after the boat he was riding in collided with another on the Chena River.

Jack G. Sims Jr., 19, of North Pole, was riding in an 18-foot aluminum boat operated by Gabriel Acker Jr., 33, also of North Pole, Alaska State Troopers said.

The two were traveling downriver when another boat, operated by Anthony H. Fazio, 49, of North Pole, was going upriver.

The boats rounded a relatively sharp bend in the river, troopers said, and both drivers took evasive action in the same direction.

Sims was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Acker was taken by a family member to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with injuries.

Troopers are investigating. They said alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the accident.

Prince of Wales car crash leaves 5 injured

ANCHORAGE - A single-car accident on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska left five people injured, with three in serious condition, Alaska State Troopers said.

The accident happened early Saturday night at mile 1 of Hydaburg Road.

Yvonne Denny, 35, of Hydaburg, lost control of her sedan and drove off the road, rolling the car several times, troopers said. Denny and two of the passengers were ejected from the car.

Denny, Charmaine Charles, 29, of Hydaburg, and Roseann Bell, 46, also of Hydaburg, were taken to the Hydaburg Health Clinic and then flown to Ketchikan General Hospital.

Two other passengers, Lee Charles Jr., 46, of Hydaburg, and Joseph Volpi, 22, of Ketchikan, were treated and released at the Hydaburg clinic.

Alcohol and speeding were factors in the accident, said troopers, who continue to investigate the crash.

Police seek woman in string of burglaries

FAIRBANKS - Police are looking for a woman believed to be responsible for up to 20 burglaries in the Fairbanks area since April.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Katherine Larson, 30, who has no known address. So far she is charged with two burglaries. Officer Pearl Turney said more charges could be filed pending results from the state crime lab.

Turney said homeowners have caught Larson in several residences, either when they were awakened in the night or after coming home. Each time she talked her way out of the situation, Turney said.

On April 30, a man returning home from work found Larson in his house. She claimed she was looking for her boyfriend, Turney said.

The homeowner let her leave but discovered drawers had been ransacked and several containers of change had been dumped into a canvas bag on his bed. He called police and a criminal complaint was filed charging Larson with two counts of burglary.

Other homeowners also have confronted Larson and picked her out of a photo lineup afterward, Turney said.

"Even though she has been caught several times in a residence, she continues to burglarize," Turney said. "I think it's worked to her advantage to be a female."

Man charged with firing shots into bar ceiling

FAIRBANKS - An Eielson Air Force man was arrested for pointing a gun at people at a Fairbanks bar, then firing five rounds into the ceiling early Sunday morning, Fairbanks police said.

Airman Daniel Hassler II, 24, an equipment operator in Eielson's vehicle operation unit since November 2000, was charged with one count of felony assault and misconduct involving a weapon.

Fairbanks, North Pole, university and airport police, along with Alaska State Troopers, descended on the Area 51 nightclub to calm down about 200 unruly bar patrons outside the bar after the shooting. No one was hurt in the incident.

During a brief chase, Hassler threw his weapon into a garbage can, police said. When an officer caught Hassler, he did not comply with orders to get down on the ground and was subdued with a stun gun, police said.

Hassler told police he had been drinking and was trying to break up a fight. Witnesses disputed his version of the incident, said police Lt. Dusty Johnson.

More than a dozen officers responded when the crowd outside became unruly.

"It appeared that they were attempting to keep security from catching this person and one of them kind of charged at my police officers," Johnson said.

Anchorage woman arrested for hit-and-run

WASILLA - An 18-year-old Anchorage woman was charged with felony hit-and-run after she forced a Wasilla Police Department vehicle off the road and sideswiped two other vehicles, Alaska State Troopers said.

Brie Bliss was arrested Saturday afternoon and also charged with assault, felony eluding, driving while intoxicated and consuming alcohol as a minor.

Bliss was driving a Mitsubishi sport utility vehicle near mile 49 of the Parks Highway when she forced a patrol vehicle off the road, troopers said. She then sideswiped another car as well as a Wasilla Police vehicle, troopers said.

Bliss was at Mat-Su Pretrial Facility pending $5,000 cash-only bail and court-approved third party. Total damage was estimated at $10,000, troopers said.

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