Alaska News Nightly: March 12, 2012

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Coastal Management Supporters Work To Reinstate Program

Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska

Even though Alaska has thousands of miles of shoreline, it’s the only state without a coastal management program. It expired last year after the state legislature and the Parnell administration failed to reach a compromise on how much input communities should have over nearby projects on federal lands. Supporters of coastal management are working on two separate ways to reinstate the program.

Dallas Seavey Hanging On To Small Lead

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Dallas Seavey is hanging onto a narrow Iditarod lead. He pulled into the Elim checkpoint at a little before 4pm this afternoon. Aliy Zirkle joined him there soon after. Just a mile or two separated them on the run from Koyuk. Aaron Burmeister, Ramey Smyth and Pete Kaiser are chasing the leaders.

By this afternoon, more than half of the 57 remaining mushers had reached Unalakleet, the place where jockeying for position traditionally begins. Among the middle of the pack was former front runner and champion Lance Mackey. He looked broken.

He’s further back in the race than he was at this point last year, when he finished 16th, and he’s leaving with nine dogs, one of whom has a minor injury, but he’s too stubborn to drop the dog.

Mackey’s lead dog has been in heat since the restart and is driving the rest of his dogs wild. Mackey says he’ll finish this race with her, but after she delivers the litter he might have her spayed.

Mackey isn’t the only musher having trouble with dogs in heat. Colorado musher Lock-lan Clark scratched back in Galena because too many of his females were in heat and he was down to a six dog team. Thus far he’s finished five Iditarods and scratched three. Looking at the standing board, he says that at this point in the race, the leaders are making key strategic moves.

For example, Ken Anderson and Mike Williams decided to fly through Shaktoolik instead of taking a multiple hour rest like many of the others.  Another frequent strategy is to go straight from Koyuk to White Mountain, though the terrain after Elim could pose some problems if your team isn’t up to it.

Brent Sass is the top rookie in this year’s race so far. The Fairbanks musher is attempting to complete his first Iditarod after running the Yukon Quest six times.  He has often found himself surrounded at checkpoints by Iditarod champions like Lance Mackey, Martin Buser and Rick Swenson.  And he says he’s trying to seize every opportunity to learn from them.

At White Mountain the mushers are required to take an 8-hour break before the last push to Safety then Nome.

‘Super Tuesday’ Practices Drawing Criticism

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Alaska’s Super Tuesday events infused the state’s Republican Party with new blood. Young voters registered in large numbers to vote in the 2012 Presidential Preference Poll and to participate in district conventions. But, many are not feeling a warm welcome from party veterans and some are even alleging rule-breaking in Super Tuesday’s process.

Confiscated Fishing Vessel To Be Sold

Stephanie Joyce, KUCB – Unalaska

Five months after its seizure, the stateless fishing vessel Bangun Perkasa is still tied up at the dock in Unalaska – but not for much longer.  Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge formally declared the vessel unclaimed.  Now the government will seek forfeiture so the Bangun Perkasa can be sold – either for scrap or at auction.

Game Board Votes Down Bear Snaring Proposal

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The state game board voted down a bear snaring proposal before adjourning from a week-long meeting in Fairbanks Friday. The state proposal, which would have allowed black bear trapping in areas of the interior, to reduce predation of moose, was unanimously rejected by the board.  Board Chairman Cliff Judkins says he wants to see the results of ongoing experimental bear snaring programs in 2 other areas before deciding whether to expand the practice.

Judkins says the chance for catching non-target cubs and grizzlies is problematic. He says public safety is also a major concern. The proposal to expand the practice drew major outcry from many Alaskans, who say snaring is inhumane, unethical and not backed up by science.  The Alaska Center for the Environment issued an anti-snaring petition signed by over 3,300 people at the start of the game board meeting in Fairbanks.

Galena Students Get New Twist On Subsistence Wood Harvesting

Jeremy Scott, KIYU – Galena

Students at the Galena Interior Learning Academy are getting a field lesson in a staple of rural Alaska living.

Students are set to gather timber from the Yukon River this summer through a new subsistence wood harvesting program with a medieval twist.

Family Of Susan Butcher Travel Portion Of Iditarod Trail

Laureli Kinneen, KNOM – Nome

As the leaders in the 2012 Iditarod race travel along the coast, three teams are on their own journey. Dave Monson and his two daughters – 16-year-old Tekla and 11-year-old Chisana – the family of the late Susan Butcher, are traveling along the last portion of the trail.