Alaska News Nightly: April 21, 2008

It’s official: Mark Begich is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by legendary legislator Ted Stevens. Meanwhile, Cook Inlet belugas remain in endangered species limbo as the Fisheries Service considers their evidence and options. Plus, Juneau looks to change its power consumption ways in the wake of the city’s catastrophic power outage. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Begich officially announces run for U.S. Senate
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich formally declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate this afternoon.

Regulators want 6 more months to decide beluga whale endangered status
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) says it will take up to 6 months longer to decide whether Cook Inlet beluga whales should be listed as endangered.

Juneau blackout may have energy conservation silver lining
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
City leaders in Juneau believe the city’s power emergency is an opportunity to become more energy efficient. And so they’ve begun a process of coming up with conservation measures — not only to lessen the impact of high electricity rates but also change the way the city does business.

Beak deformities affecting Alaskan birds, puzzling scientists
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
A syndrome affecting Alaskan birds is being seen with more frequency in the northwestern U.S. Birds with “long-billed syndrome” have misshapen and overgrown beaks. It’s been a problem in Alaska for more than a decade and scientists are asking for help noticing cases.

Hatchery salmon returns may offset low wild fish quotas in 2008
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Southeast fishermen disappointed by low Chinook quotas and bag limits in the coming season will be glad to hear this: hatchery returns of king salmon this summer in southeast Alaska are expected to be among the highest ever. Unlike wild stocks, Alaska-produced hatchery Chinook are not counted against the annual quota set by the Pacific Salmon Treaty. If the hatchery forecasts hold up, both sport and commercial fishermen could see more kings than usual in this season’s spring fisheries.

Army medical helicopter crash under investigation
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
Army Alaska officials are looking into why a medevac helicopter caught fire Saturday at Fort Wainwright. The crew managed to escape before the aircraft was consumed by flames. Fort Wainwright spokeswoman Linda Douglass says they don’t yet know what caused the fire.

Anchorage unveils daily crime map
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Anchorage residents who want to track crime in their neighborhoods now have a new way to do it. The city recently unveiled a new map on the municipal website that shows a daily crime report.

Tlingit and Haida assembly elects new president in landslide vote
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Delegates to southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization have elected Bill Martin of Juneau as their president. Martin won 75% of the vote.