Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, November 07, 2004

Marijuana, suspected drug money seized

JUNEAU - Authorities seized about five pounds of marijuana and $29,000 in suspected drug proceeds from a residence on North Douglas Highway last week, but no arrests were made.

Alaska State Troopers reported that SEANET - the Southeast Alaska Narcotics Enforcement Team - working with Juneau police located the items during an investigation into the importation of marijuana from Seattle via barge lines. Investigators also reported finding evidence of marijuana distribution.

The investigation continues, according to trooper reports.

Protests resume with 'howl-ins'

ANCHORAGE - A Connecticut-based animal rights group is again taking aim at Alaska with more than two-dozen "howl-ins" planned from New York to Alaska.

Friends of Animals is hoping to put a stop to a state-sponsored wolf-kill program by targeting Alaska's $2 billion-a-year tourism industry.

A similar campaign last year didn't stop an estimated 1.4 million summer visitors coming to Alaska, up 100,000 to 150,000 from the previous summer, said the Alaska Travel Industry Association.

Friends of Animals blames Gov. Frank Murkowski for allowing predator control programs to flourish since he took office in 2002. Under the programs, wolves are either shot by pilots and hunter teams from planes or killed after the plane lands.

The governor has said the programs are needed to reduce predators and make sure that rural Alaskans have enough moose to eat.

The Darien, Conn.-based group had better success about a decade ago when 53 howl-ins in 51 cities provoked then-Gov. Wally Hickel to order a moratorium on a similar wolf program.

Friends of Animals organized more than 150 protests last year.

The group, along with the Last Resort Animal Sanctuary of Sitka, will again ask people to sign postcards to be sent to the governor pledging to boycott travel to Alaska.

Protests also are planned this weekend for California, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Protests are planned for Washington, D.C., and New York City later this month and in early December.

Friends of Animals has placed advertisements calling for the tourism boycott in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and Mother Jones Magazine.

Fire officials critique record season

FAIRBANKS - Fire officials acknowledged that information flow, agency coordination and public involvement in planning may have come up short in this year's extraordinary fire season.

State and federal fire officials in Two Rivers on Thursday held the first in a series of public meetings assessing the season that burned a record 6.5 million acres and estimated to cost $100 million or more.

About 40 people - all but about 10 who were state and federal officials - turned out for the meeting in the community where homes were threatened by the Wolf Creek Fire, which reached the outskirts of the Chena Hot Springs Resort. Nearby residents along the Steese Highway and in subdivisions north of Fox had to evacuate ahead of the approaching Boundary Fire.

Fire officials acknowledged the flow of information could have been better.

Other areas identified for improvement included getting more public involvement and participation in the planning end of fire management and coordination with non-fire agencies such as Alaska State Troopers, the state Department of Transportation and the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Control.

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