Alaska News Nightly: July 27, 2007

Scientists are tracking walrus north of Barrow, to see how they respond to rapidly retreating sea ice. Plus, cruise ship passengers caught sight of an unusal white marine mammal near Skagway earlier this week — it may have been an albino dolphin. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Scientists watching walrus movements as sea ice recedes
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Biologists in Anchorage are getting a daily look at how walrus in the Chukchi Sea are responding to rapidly retreating sea ice. Walrus, especially females, depend heavily on sea ice to feed and care for their young. Scientists hope the study will give them greater insight into how global warming will affect the animals.

Photos and PDF provided by Tony Fischbach, USGS – Walrus Research Program

Alaska suspects merger by Japanese seafood processors is anticompetitive
Casey Kelly, KMXT – Kodiak
The State of Alaska is opening its own antitrust investigation into a proposed merger of two Japanese seafood companies with major processing operations in the state.

Moose population management debated, especially in Tyonek Corporation lands
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
Every spring and summer in Alaska, an undetermined number of moose calves are orphaned when their mothers are killed in automobile collisions or taken by bears. Some Alaskans say that those calves could be rehabilitated and returned to the wild, but state Fish and Game officials fear that putting human-raised calves out on their own could result in higher predator populations. Tyonek Corporation lands, southwest of Anchorage, have seen what they call a “crash” in moose counts and want to take action to protect this important subsistence population.

Bethel chooses to allow cyanide transport through the city’s port
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
The Bethel City Council recently voted against banning cyanide from the city port. For the past two months the Council considered banning any amount of cyanide over 50 gallons from entering the city or it’s port on the Kuskokwim River. The move was in response to the proposed Donlin Creek Gold Mine 200 miles upriver.

BLM hosting Denali Highway volunteer clean-up this weekend
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hoping for a large turnout tomorrow for a clean-up of public lands along the Denali Highway. The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 135-mile gravel road. The BLM’s Marnie Graham says the agency hasn’t been able to keep ahead of the trash on its own. The BLM is offering free camping, a barbeque and t-shirts for volunteers. Volunteers who want to participate in the clean up can sign up at the BLM’s Brushkana or Tangle Lakes campgrounds.

Yakutat’s new “totem trail” grants access to memorial pole and fisheries demo
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska
Work crews in Yakutat recently completed an accessible walkway leading to the first totem pole erected in the community in decades. The pathway will also serve as a fisheries education site.

Albino porpoise — or Pacific white-sided dolphin — sighted in Southeast
John Hunt, KHNS – Haines
Travelers aboard the Chilkat Cruises ship Yukon Queen were treated to a rare sighting last Sunday. A large, white sea mammal was seen near Skagway.