Hunters strike deal after getting stuck in the tundra

Agreement: Men have to help educate military personnel about living in Alaska

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2007

FAIRBANKS - The owners of the two pickup trucks that got stuck in the tundra off the Dalton Highway while caribou-hunting last year have agreed to tell other military personnel not to do what they did as part of a settlement reached with the Bureau of Land Management.

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District manager Bob Schneider with the bureau in Fairbanks said the settlement was signed by the truck owners on Nov. 1.

"One of the terms of the settlement was that the folks involved have agreed to participate in an education and outreach effort focused on military personnel in Alaska," Schneider said.

The owners of the trucks, whose identities have yet to be released, are stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage.

The deal also included a financial settlement, though Schneider declined to reveal the amount the truck owners will have to pay. Schneider said "all the particulars" of the deal will be released on Dec. 3.

The two trucks, a Ford F150 and a Dodge Ram 1500, were stuck in the tundra about 350 miles north of Fairbanks for more than six months after the hunters bogged down on Sept. 8, 2006, trying to retrieve three caribou they had shot five miles from the road.

Rather than pack the animals out as they were required to do, the hunters attempted to drive the trucks to the caribou through the Dalton Highway Corridor, which is closed to motorized vehicles. One of the trucks got stuck about a half mile off the road while the other made it 4½ miles before getting mired in the boggy tundra.

After three unsuccessful attempts to dislodge the trucks, the hunters finally used jackhammers and rotary drills to dig the trucks out of the frozen ground in late March and early April. The incident attracted statewide attention and the bureau was flooded with phone calls from the public, some of whom offered suggestions on how to free the trucks and others who questioned military members' attitudes toward Alaska. It was the latter calls that prompted the BLM include the outreach program as part of the settlement, Schneider said.

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