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AK Beat: Porcupine Caribou Herd hits historic highs

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published March 17, 2014

Porcupine herd population spikes: The Porcupine caribou herd, whose range includes parts of Northeast Alaska, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Canada, has grown to record numbers, according to a report from Canadian Press. "The herd has grown to an estimated 197,000 animals," the report says, "the highest since biologists in Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories began counting in 1972." Those numbers are nearly double those seen in the early 1970s, when concern over the herd's decline prompted the beginning of regular censuses. Still, as the article notes, citing an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist, the high numbers don't mean the need for conservation measures is over: "A decade later, board members and biologists are pleased with the numbers but not ready to declare victory. The population can peak and then come crashing down, said Jason Caikoski, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game."

Punch and drugs land fleeing Wasilla man in jail: A Wasilla man is in jail after allegedly punching an officer during a traffic stop and fleeing into the woods, all while in possession of cocaine, said Alaska State Troopers. Troopers reported that at about 6:22 p.m. Saturday, an officer pulled over a Buick near the intersection of Johnson Road and Schultz Drive. The driver -- who they were later able to identify as 30-year-old Terenty Reutov, of Wasilla, initially gave the troopers a false name, troopers said. He then punched the troopers in the chin and fled into the woods, troopers said. After a half-mile chase on foot in the woods and a nearby neighborhood, he was apprehended, troopers said. Troopers said he was found in possession of cocaine, and that he was the subject of five outstanding arrest warrants. Reutov was charged with fourth-degree assault, resisting arrest, fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, and giving false information. He was taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility. A passenger in the vehicle, 42-year-old Kimberly Yadon, of Wasilla, also allegedly gave police a false name for Reutov, and was charged with first-degree hindering prosecution.

Anchorage police investigate armed robbery: The Anchorage Police Department is investigating an armed robbery in South Anchorage, according to a department release. Police said received a call about the incident, at a house in the 12000 block of Brandon Street, shortly after midnight on Monday, March 17. According to the release, there were "no major injuries" in the incident. In the early morning hours, when police released the initial statement, no suspects had yet been taken into custody.

Big Lake man jailed for shooting into residence: A Big Lake man is in jail after shooting into a house there Saturday night, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers said 38-year-old Paul J. Meixner, of Big Lake, allegedly fired several gunshots into a residence on Moonrise Drive at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, before fleeing the scene in a Ford Bronco. Troopers responded and found Meixner a short time later in the area, where he was arrested on charges of second-degree misconduct involving a weapon and third-degree assault. He was taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility.In battle of billionaires, Begich loses out: The mid-term elections, particularly those for U.S. Senate, where the Democratic majority may be vulnerable, are attracting the attention of the super-rich. And as The Hill reports, the conservative Koch brothers and their Americans for Prosperity PAC have some competition, in the form of Tom Steyer, who the publication describes as "a former hedge fund manager turned environmental activist." Steyer has vowed to make climate change a top issue in the election cycle. But that's unlikely to help Alaska's Democratic Sen. Mark Begich. Begich has been targeted by AFP on the issue of carbon tax -- despite the fact that he hasn't said he'll support one. But he also tends to take stances that win him no friends among the environmentalist community, at least on energy issues. As the Hill notes: "Begich is a top energy Democrat, who sides with his Republican colleague from Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, more often than his party on energy issues. (His support for the Keystone XL pipeline is one example.)." Because of that, The Hill says, Steyer won't be supporting him.

Alaska leads growing home-birth trend: Home births are on the rise in the U.S., according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Alaska is leading that trend. An Associated Press report published in the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald reports that after dipping below 1 percent, home births began to rise again, beginning around 2004, reaching 1.36 percent in 2012. The short article provides limited context and ends on a short speculative note that Alaska's relative lack of rural infrastructure may have contributed to its highest-in-the-nation rate: "Alaska had the most out-of-hospital births -- about 1 in 17. Women in remote locations may not able to get to hospitals in time for delivery."