Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska - Bear Injures Australian Tourist

Recently uploaded footage from the Associated Press Archive shows the infamous July 30, 1994 mauling of an Australian tourist by Binky, a polar bear housed at the Alaska Zoo.Twenty-one years ago, Australian tourist Kathryn Warburton decided to climb over two fences surrounding the polar bear exhibit for a photo opportunity. Binky proceeded to attack Warburton, and in the footage bystanders are seen trying to beat the polar bear away as it bites and claws at her leg.Warburton survived the attack, though she suffered a broken leg and lost a shoe. Speaking from the hospital a few days after the attack, she called her intrusion into the polar bear exhibit's perimeter "the dumbest thing I've ever done."The story took off internationally, and an image of Binky with the shoe hanging from his mouth was featured on a popular T-shirt.Six weeks later, Binky mauled a teenager who snuck into the zoo late at night and got too close to the polar bear cage.The polar bear exhibit was later changed to prevent tourists from jumping the fences. Binky died in 1995.To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News contact Tara Young at tara(at)
Colleen Mondor

Bush Pilot's View: Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness

In this National Park Service video, pilot Lynn Ellis flies through Wrangell-St. Elias Park and Preserve, the largest national park in the U.S., providing a deeply personal narration along with views of truly stunning scenery. Ellis is uniquely positioned to show off the park; he grew up in the Wrangells, living and working there from the time he was a small child.In oral histories collected by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Project Jukebox, Ellis's mother, Lorene Ellis, and two of her sons shared their experiences living at the end of Nabesna Road, about 42 miles into the Wrangell Mountains. The family purchased Devil's Mountain Lodge in 1957 after moving to Alaska from Texas three years earlier, and Lorene and Bill Ellis raised their four sons living a subsistence lifestyle there. Bill Ellis became a guide and bush pilot and his sons, to one degree or another, followed in his footsteps. Kirk Ellis and his family still operate Devil's Mountain Lodge, providing hunting and guiding services.Lynn Ellis began flying when he was 16 and operated a Gulkana-based air taxi service for a time. He now works for the National Park Service, flying search-and-rescue operations and transporting rangers, biologists and maintenance crews through all areas of the park as they conduct wildlife surveys and other activities.Ellis' deep love for the backcountry -- and specifically Wrangell-St. Elias -- is evident in this video. Flying over its 13.2 million acres, which include the country's largest wilderness area, he has a perspective on the mountains and wild spaces that few people will ever experience. His Alaska is the one of countless magazine articles and TV shows. But mostly, as he makes very clear here, it is his home.Oral histories collected by Project Jukebox on Wrangell-St. Elias are available online. They include interviews with Lorene, Kirk and Cole Ellis and many other longtime area residents.Contact Colleen Mondor at
Mike Campbell
The Inside the Slide Trail lies within the maze of social trails at Earthquake Park.  It’s a half-mile long and just freshened up by Youth Employment in Parks (YEP) with 10 new interpretive signs explaining the impact of the 1964 earthquake on that part of west Anchorage, especially the massive earth slide that stretched for about a mile.   
Shelby Lum
The Alaska Challenge, which bills itself as "The Longest, Toughest Handcycle Race in the World," began Tuesday with a time trial that started at Lake Hood and finished at Kincaid Park. The 250-mile race is broken into eight stages from Anchorage to Denali Park and is set to finish July 27 with steep climb through Hatcher Pass.  
Alaska Dispatch News
GeoFORCE Alaska is a summer geoscience outreach program run by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The UAF College of Natural Science and Mathematics recruits high school students from Alaska villages to participate in field trips around the state and in the Lower 48 to learn about geology hands-on. The experience can be transformative, participants say.Jerry Brower from Nuiqsut said the program gave him a new understanding of the world around him. “In the Native culture, nature is very important, it’s the key of life. But I didn’t actually understand why this happened or why that happened. Why I got stuck on this turn on the river but not this turn. But now after GeoFORCE it opened my eyes to why things happened.” To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News contact Tara Young at tara(at)
Kamala Kelkar
Base Kodiak -- located some 250 miles southwest of Anchorage -- is the closest Coast Guard base to the Arctic. But close is a relative term; the base is 956 nautical miles south of Barrow, the largest and northernmost community in the U.S. Arctic.
Kamala Kelkar
As the thawing Arctic Ocean opens to vessel traffic and economic activity, the Coast Guard is being tasked with shouldering more responsibility for overseeing the U.S. portion of it. To boost Coast Guard presence in the region, the Alaska district has been conducting annual Arctic Shield campaigns.
Zaz Hollander
High school students help out on an archaeological dig across the street from the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station during the first two weeks of July 2015 in Talkeetna. 
Elissa Brown
Sitka sea salt is world class, and Darcy and Jim Michener are introducing the flake-style mineral to the world's diners.
Loren Holmes
Every few months, the contents of the Anchorage Police Department’s evidence locker and lost-and-found drawers go up for auction, and you never know what you'll find.
Shelby Lum
The Hammerman, Anchorage’s only off-road triathlon, celebrated its 15th anniversary by drawing a record crowd of 147 participants to Kincaid Park.
Loren Holmes
Hyder sits at the southeast corner of the Last Frontier, cut off from the rest of the state but connected by road to nearby Stewart, British Columbia. The ties between Hyder and Stewart run deep, spanning a century of cooperation that has made this one of Alaska's most unusual communities.