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AK Beat: Celebrity site reports 'Ultimate Survival Alaska' star wanted on criminal charges

Alaska Dispatch News

'Ultimate Survival Alaska' star said to be wanted: Celebrity gossip website TMZ reports that "Ultimate Survival Alaska" star Tyler Johnson, 37, is wanted for "getting drunk, stealing a car, then suffering a horrific accident that should have killed him." Although the events described by TMZ took place in Anchorage, Alaska State Troopers and the Anchorage Police Department said no such incident took place in Alaska's largest city. There is, however, a Tyler Johnson the same age as the Tyler Johnson who appeared on two seasons of the reality survival show wanted on charges stemming from a similar incident that took place near Homer, about 200 miles south. Troopers report that at about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 4, Anchorage resident Tyler D. Johnson, 37, crashed a red Toyota sedan at mile 165 of the Sterling Highway. A trooper dispatch said Johnson was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown through the car's windshield. Johnson was pinned under the vehicle until first responders were able to extricate him and take him to South Peninsula Hospital for treatment of "possible major injuries." Homer Police Chief Marc Robl said that Johnson was able to leave the hospital before officers could contact him. A warrant was issued for Johnson's arrest on Aug. 11, for vehicle theft 1 (a Class C felony) and DUI. Johnson remains at large. Update, Aug. 16, 11:10 a.m.: Nat Geo channel Spokesman Chris Albert said that Johnson will appear in the upcoming third season of "Ultimate Survivor Alaska." The show wrapped shooting in Alaska about three weeks ago, before the Aug. 4 incident, according to Albert, who said the show's staff has not heard from Johnson since then. "At this point we know about as much as you do," Albert said. "I hope he turns himself in."

Are hybrids -- such as polar/grizzly bear offspring -- a bad thing? Conventional wisdom suggests that when an endangered species -- such as a polar bear -- mates with a close relative -- such as a grizzly, or brown, bear -- the resulting hybrid speeds the endangered party to the affair along the path to extinction more quickly. In fact, creatures like the one described -- called pizzly or grolar bears -- already exist. But perhaps hybridization isn’t as bad as biologists feared, a possibility the New York Times explores in a lengthy Sunday magazine piece titled “Should You Fear the Pizzly Bear?”. One problem, as former Alaska scientist Brendan Kelly, now chief scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, tells the times, is that a key term doesn’t quite mean what we often think: “The dirty secret of biology is that the fundamental unit of science — i.e., species — in fact can’t be adequately defined.” The Times takes, as an example, the bears of Southeast Alaska’s Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof Islands. The ABC bears look like brown bears and are classified as such -- but share significant portions of DNA with polar bears. Such hybridization can preserve genetic legacies -- as they have with the wolf genes conserved in the DNA of coyotes in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. Are those upsides worth the loss of distinct species, the Times piece asks?

KUAC receives $20,000 in grant funding: The Fairbanks North Star Borough approved a $20,000 grant to public broadcasting station KUAC during a Thursday evening Borough Assembly meeting, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports. KUAC is facing budget cuts of $170,000. Five of the seven present assembly members voted in favor of the ordinance.

Mount Polley Mine lays off workers, sparks First Nations opposition: Fallout from the Mount Polley Mine tailings dam breach continues, with the mine laying off 42 workers in the wake of the disaster, the CBC reports, while First Nations groups have stopped two other British Columbia mining projects involving the company, Imperial Metals, that owns the mine. One group said is was kicking the company off lands where it was conducting exploratory work for a proposed lead-zinc mine, while another blockaded a gold and copper mine in the province. Meanwhile, industry site Mining.com has published a graphic allowing readers to toggle between before and after satellite photos, showing the visible damages to downstream waterways caused by the massive spill, which allowed more than 1 billion gallons of waste and wastewater into streams in the Fraser River watershed.

Begich stakes out liberal abortion rights stance: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, sometimes known for taking more conservative stances than fellow Senate Democrats, is taking a more typically liberal stand on abortion, reproductive rights, and similar issues in an effort to attract votes from centrist and independent women voters, reports The Hill. “Most of Begich’s endangered peers hail from the South and benefit by treading lightly on social issues like abortion. But Democrats say that, in other Western states, Republicans and independent voters have a more libertarian streak that could make Begich’s strategy a savvy one,” The Hill writes. But it also notes that Republican groups have been quick to use the issue to attack him: “"Democrat Mark Begich is so far outside the mainstream that, not only is he comfortable with late-term abortion, he's actively politicizing it and using the issue to raise political cash," a National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson told The Hill.

Researchers: Human contributions to climate change have accelerated: Two-thirds of mass loss in the world’s glaciers is attributable to human impacts on the climate, says a study published online Thursday in Science magazine. Over the long span of time that started in the mid-19th century and ended at the beginning of the 21st century, manmade environmental changes accounted for only about a quarter of the glaciers’ mass loss, with the remainder attributable to natural causes, said the study, by scientists from the University of Innsbruck in Austria and Trent University in Canada. But the “anthropogenic signal” jumped to 69 percent in the 1991-2010 period, the study said.