Humpback found dead near Peril Strait
JUNEAU - The first humpback whale likely to have been killed by a ship strike in Southeast Alaska this year was reported in Peril Strait Thursday by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The whale was discovered floating on Saturday and reported to Alaska State Troopers and to whale biologist Jan Straley, of Sitka, who notified NMFS.
By Sunday, the whale had been located on a beach in Peril Strait and Forest Service employees secured it there so it would not wash out on the tide.
A NMFS biologist, four veterinarians and Forest Service volunteer conducted a necropsy this week, led by Carrie Goertz of the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward.
The whale appears to have died as the result of severe blunt trauma that is consistent with being struck by a ship. The final result of the necropsy is still pending.
NMFS has received a dozen confirmed and possible boat-whale collisions this year. On average, NMFS reports about one humpback fatality per year in Alaska.
Humpbacks are listed as an endangered species.
NMFS law enforcement agents are investigating what vessels may have been traveling in the area that potentially could have been involved in the fatality.
It is illegal to take or possess parts from an endangered species, unless authorized for educational display or scientific research.
Fort Wainwright soldier dies in Iraq
FORT WAINWRIGHT - A second member of Alaska's 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team has died this week in Iraq.
Army Spc. Daniel D. Bartels, 22, of Huron, S.D., died Wednesday of a non-combat related injury in Mosul, Iraq.
No other information was immediately available, but the military said the death remains under investigation.
Bartels was a cavalry scout assigned to the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Wainwright.
The military on Wednesday reported the first death from Alaska's Stryker Brigade. Army Spc. Lucas A. Frantz, of Kansas was killed Tuesday - his 22nd birthday - during a mission in Mosul.
Regulators approve pipeline tariff decision
JUNEAU - Federal energy regulators have upheld a decision meant to end a 12-year dispute between oil producers and refineries over the value of the oil removed from and then reinserted into the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
Thursday's ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted, with slight modifications, a 2004 ruling from an administrative law judge who changed how the pipeline's Quality Bank calculates the different cuts of oil that flow through the pipeline.
The commission varied from the judge's decision in limiting the retroactive payments state refineries have to make to oil shippers based on the new methodology to Feb. 1, 2000.
The administrative law judge had made the decision retroactive to 1993, when the dispute arose, but the commission followed legislation by Alaska Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski that established the 2000 cutoff.
Stevens' spokeswoman, Courtney Schikora Boone, has said that provision was a compromise to ensure the refineries stay in business while the state and the oil companies are compensated.
How much the refineries will have to pay was not immediately known.
Nikiski man charged with illegal guiding
SEWARD - A Nikiski man will be arraigned next month on charges of illegal guiding.
Wally Dean Jackson, 37, was charged with 17 counts, including guiding without a license, outfitting a big game hunt without a license, transporting without a license and misrepresenting himself as a transporter, Alaska State Troopers said.
He's also charged with issuing a bad check, driving with a suspended license and 10 counts of obtaining resident hunting permit tickets or lying on resident license applications.