Daily Archives: June 8, 2011

Dogs, wildlife don’t mix — Llama killed, moose calf rescued from Kasilof sled dog pen

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter, Moose calves have appeared on the Kenai Peninsula recently, making this a dangerous time for pet-wildlife interactions. Dog owners are asked to prevent their pets from roaming, to minimize the risk to their safety, and to that of newborn wildlife.

Redoubt Reporter

Warming weather and extended hours of light are coaxing more activity outside, which can be good, or particularly bad, when animals and people run afoul of each other.

“The warm temperatures are bringing out the roaming dogs, so now is when we see an explosion of outdoor accidents,” said Mary Huhndorf, a veterinarian at Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic.

She has already seen a seasonal uptick in the number of animals coming into the clinic with injuries, primarily dogs hit by vehicles. A dog also arrived last week with a gunshot wound.

“It was brought in after it was shot at a neighbor’s house. The people who shot it didn’t want to, but after the dog had killed six of their chickens, they didn’t know what else to do,” Huhndorf said.

This dog wasn’t the only one shot recently after intruding on another person’s property. Carrol Martin said he shot two dogs Friday after three came onto Martin’s Diamond M Ranch and killed one of Martins’ llamas and a miniature goat.

“We never even found the goat,” Martin said, “and the llama got chewed up pretty bad. He had deep puncture wounds all over his face, neck and body.”

Obama the Llama, as the Martins had named it, was still alive when the Martins found it and called a veterinarian. Despite treatment, the animal succumbed to its injuries later that evening. The Martins tried to track the dogs back to their place of origin. They seemed to live a whopping three miles away. Continue reading

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Bears death tally up to 3

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

As campgrounds begin to fill up and more people take to the outdoors this summer, interactions with wildlife are increasing. The results are not always favorable. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has recorded three human-caused mortalities of brown bears so far this season.

The first was a male shot in Soldotna on May 6 after it was reported to be attempting to kill a dog in an outdoor pen. Although, said Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with Fish and Game, the shooter did say, “There may have been some dog food left in there overnight.”

The other two deaths are the end of a chain reaction of events that began in Sterling on May 13. A hunter made some errors while attempting to legally hunt brown bears, Lewis said.

“This person had a permit, but they were in the wrong permit area and they shot a sow with a cub — which may or may not have been known,” Lewis said.

The sow was illegally harvested, and will count in the tally of human-caused mortalities of bears for the year. Human-caused mortalities can also include bears hit by vehicles, euthanized by Fish and Game, or those shot in defense of life or property, also known as DLP deaths. The May 6 shooting in Soldotna has been classified as a DLP kill.

In the May 13 incident, the cub left behind was a roughly 200-pound, year-old male, rather than a small cub of the year, which is a possible reason the hunter may not have realized it was related to the mother bear. Fearing the orphan may still not be old enough to feed naturally, Fish and Game set out to capture and relocate the animal.

“We set out a live trap, got it, collared it and moved it, and it immediately came right back,” Lewis said. Continue reading

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Variety: Spice of life, appeal of river festival

By Jenny Neyman

Photos courtesy of Rhonda Orth, Kenai Watershed Forum. An artists puts the finishing touches on his wooden salmon figure at the Kenai River Festival last summer. Many favorite activities will return this weekend, with a few new highlights.

Redoubt Reporter

A listener could give themselves a hand cramp from turning the radio dial enough to get the same kind of musical variety offered in this weekend’s Kenai River Festival Rockin’ the River lineup.

Mellow acoustic folk music, rock ’n‘ roll, soulful ballads, fine-tuned harmonies, bluegrass, American big-band standards, blues and oom-pah music will be anchored with a Saturday night performance of electric Alaska funk, from perennial festival favorite performers and some newcomers to the venue.

“I’m very happy with it, we’ve got a good variety this year,” said Allen Auxier, station manager of KDLL, which organizes the concert portion of the festival. It can be stressful getting three days of musicians lined up to play, but once the music starts Friday night, “I get to sit down and watch the bands and I always enjoy it. Whoever is playing, I really do enjoy the variety. It’s always very, very different.” Continue reading

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Growing a cure for summer garden anxiety

By Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Chris Cook, left, directs Amy Christopher, center, and Irene Fandel, right in putting down and watering the first layer of a lasagna bed during a Central Peninsula Garden Club workshop May 28 in Kenai.

I’ve always regarded gardening a little like the ancient Greeks did the weather. It’s a magical occurrence, governed by mysterious forces beyond my ability to understand or control. It may involve large men in short togas who can make matters very good or very bad for you, depending on their short-tempered, capricious whims. All we can do is hope for the best while attempting to follow the enigmatic invocations of the prophets, such as, “prune after bloom,” “partial shade,” “well-draining” and something to do with planting when birch leaves are as big as squirrel ears.

OK, but plant what — anything, or just more birch trees? And what kind of squirrels are we talking about, here? Arctic ground squirrels, with their tiny, folded-back nibs of cartilage that would never keep a pair of sunglasses in place? Or the bushy-tailed red squirrels of Southeast that look like they’ve got sonar arrays sprouting from their heads?

For that matter, does the pruning have anything to do with the ears? Like sacrificing a goat to Zeus to end a drought? (Editor’s note: No squirrels were harmed in the making of this column.)

So when Chris Cook, of the Central Peninsula Gardening Club, asked if I wanted a lasagna bed garden at my house, I told her I probably wasn’t the best candidate. The only circumstance in which I could envision my thumb being green is if I whacked it with a hammer — probably in an effort to construct some sort of trellis or hoop house or composting apparatus — to the point where gangrene set in.

In my brain’s filing system, “gardening,” as a concept, is stuffed in a box with “horticulture,” “hydroponics” and “genetically modified food.” It’s shoved in the dank, cobwebby “Things I don’t really understand” corner, along with bins labeled “advanced physics,” “the poetry of William Butler Yeats,” “why people care about the British monarchy,” “the appeal of Capri pants,” “how to cook an artichoke” and “toilets flushing the opposite direction below the equator.” Continue reading

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‘Deadliest Catch’ Time Bandit hit in Coast Guard sweep

Homer Tribune staff

A man was arrested from the famed commercial crabbing boat, the Time Bandit, after Alaska State Troopers boarded it to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in its investigation.

Michael Lee Shannon, 39, of Wasilla, was a guest aboard the Time Bandit on May 29. He was arrested for disorderly conduct, assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.

According to trooper reports, the troopers’ assistance, along with narcotics-sniffing dog Yukon, was requested by the U.S. Coast Guard for an unspecified cause. The Time Bandit was anchored near Anchor Point beach when troopers and Coast Guard officials boarded it at 1:24 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

The Coast Guard wanted to do an impromptu safety inspection, said David Mosley, Coast Guard spokesman.

During the boarding, a small amount of marijuana was located in the luggage of a guest aboard the vessel, according to court statements of Trooper Aaron Mobley.

“During the contact, a male refused to identify himself on board. It was later determined that the male was Michael Lee Shannon, 39, of Wasilla, who was a guest on the vessel and intoxicated,” the report stated. Continue reading

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Japanese navy visits Cook Inlet

By Naomi Klouda

Photos courtesy of Joe Kashi. Three Japanese navy ships visited Kachemak Bay on Saturday. Here is the Asagiri, TV-3516, a training vessel, formerly the DD-151 destroyer. The current Asagiri carries forward the name of a famous Japanese destroyer from World War II. The name means “morning fog.”

Homer Tribune

Japanese navy ships visited Homer over the weekend, en route to Anchorage and other distant ports for a five-month training mission.

The ships form one squadron, with three vessels called the JDS Kashima, JDS Asagiri and JDS Mineyuki. Aboard were 700 crewmembers and 175 officer cadets, said U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson, Sara Francis. Continue reading

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Stick to the weeds when hunting hardy pike

By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter

Slowly poling the flat-bottom duck boat through the cold morning fog of an Alaska summer dawn, we moved into position just off the edge of a shallow-water reed bed. The stillness of the morning was one of those eerie silences that are all too rare in our modern world. So much so that we sat back and just listened to the birds chirping, talking to each other as they always do at dawn; as if they are having their morning coffee and discussing the day’s events.

But after a few moments we got back to the task at hand, catching one of those hated Kenai Peninsula pike which, were they only illegal aliens, would be left alone.

Moving ever so slowly to remain quiet and not bang the side of the boat, we readied our fishing rods and prepared to drop our topwater plugs (that float on the surface) — mine a white mouse, my fishing partner’s a dark green frog — into the reed bed.

We timed our casts to hit the water at the same time. As my mouse barely hit the water an explosion of spraying water came up and I set the hook, hard. Pike have hard mouths that require a hard hook set, unlike many other fish species on the Kenai. This is only one of the reasons we use braided Berkley Fire Line, a super braid that has virtually no stretch and practically allows one to set a hook in a concrete block.

Sharp hooks are of course always desirable when fishing, but with pike they are a must. My fishing partner, much to her dismay, had no action from her frog hitting the water. And so it goes when trying to catch the relatively rare pike in the peninsula lakes.

Despite all of the press to the contrary, there are very few pike in peninsula waters. Stormy Lake, which has been the focus of an eradication plan, provides pike fishing at its most difficult. Continue reading

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Science of the Seasons: Horsetails here to stay

By Dr. David Wartinbee, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Dr. David Wartinbee. The strobilus on top of a fertile stem of horsetail has some branches below it. This strobilus is mature and open, so spores are being released to be carried by the wind. A nonfertile stem is seen on the right.

During the first couple weeks of June, most Alaska gardeners are getting their gardens planted. Of course, there is much discussion about when to plant particular species, and it depends on who is doing the planting and the microclimate where one is working.

Despite the variations in planting times, one thing many gardeners in Alaska will agree on is that Equisetum, or horsetail, is the worst weed in the garden.

It seems to come up before anything else and it grows until things are about to freeze. The gardener in my family has muttered many curses on the ancestry of these species while weeding.

Speaking of ancestry, Equisetum plants have been around for hundreds of millions of years, and often show up in Carboniferous period coal deposits. Organisms that have survived that long have evolved some pretty good methods of reproducing and coping with the environment, despite the constant extractions by aggressive gardeners. Continue reading

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Almanac: Some body goes missing

By Clark Fair

Redoubt Reporter

State Trooper Wayne Haggerty may have thought a prank was being pulled on him when he arrived at the Ace of Clubs cocktail bar in Soldotna, expecting to find a corpse. According to Leo Creary, he found no body where it was supposed to be, so he went in the bar, which today is the Maverick, to find out what the deal was.

Inside, he looked for and located Paul “Mississippi” Bierdeman, who was having a drink and chatting with other patrons. According to Creary, their conversation was short and to the point.

“Haggerty come in and wanted to know where this body was he’d found, and Paul said, ‘Well, he’s out there in the bed of my truck.’ Wayne said, ‘No, he’s not. I just looked.’ They went out and looked, and sure enough, there wasn’t anything there.”

Although they were concerned at the moment, the problem with the body had actually begun earlier in the evening.

It was midwinter of about 1964 and bitterly cold. Bierdeman, who ran the Laundromat at the River Terrace Trailer Court, had driven south to Homer to tend to some business. On the way back north, he was cruising through the Kasilof area at about 9 or 10 p.m. when he spotted what appeared to be a man sitting on a snowbank along the side of the road. So he stopped to investigate and see if he could lend a hand.

The man was dead.

“The guy was basically froze, sitting there on the snowbank,” Creary said. “I don’t remember who he was. The story was, he was inebriated and he got that far and probably sat down to rest and fell asleep or something.”

Bierdeman lifted the body and set it in the bed of his pickup, and then he drove on to Soldotna to report the death to the authorities. Since few people owned telephones in those days, he pulled into the Ace of Clubs parking lot and went indoors to have a drink and make a call to the troopers.

After Haggerty later demonstrated to Bierdeman that his “cargo” had disappeared, the two men climbed into Haggerty’s patrol car and headed south. They didn’t have to go far — just across the Kenai River bridge.

“Here’s the guy kind of sitting right in the middle of the road,” Creary said. “When Paul had come into town, he’d hit a little frost heave, and the guy just raised up and he drove out from underneath him. And he just sat in the road there for a while.”

Fortunately for the dead man, traffic in those days was not particularly heavy.

Haggerty took charge of the body. Then Bierdeman, said Creary, probably returned to the bar, and for a few days the frozen man was a hot topic in that establishment.

Vandals may have forgotten punch line

When vandals disabled most of the school buses in Soldotna on a cold January night in 1972, they may have thought they were clever, but they had overlooked one obvious drawback to their actions.

On the night of Tuesday, Jan. 11, two individuals parked a vehicle on the far side of the chain-link fence that surrounded the bus lot behind the bowling alley in town. As determined by Soldotna Police Chief Charlie Decker — who examined the clear tracks they had left in the snow at the site of their crime — they cut a hole in the fence and climbed through. They then walked among the buses, cutting off heating-cable connections so that the buses would not start Wednesday morning.

Decker postulated that the vandals might have believed they would be gaining an extra day off from school through their actions. They were correct — up to a point. Since not enough buses could be started the following morning, school in Soldotna was, indeed, canceled.

In fact, since someone in Kenai — Decker thought it might be the same pair — also jerked out the heating cables on one of the buses serving that city’s schools, attendance for some students in Kenai was also disrupted.

Burton Carver, the area bus contractor, said that repairs would cost hundreds of dollars. The police announced that they had a lead and were asking for more information. And the school district reminded students that schools were required by the state to make up missed days, and it was thought most likely that the makeup day would be plucked from an upcoming vacation period — say, Easter or spring break.

Modernity, 1973 style

The central Kenai Peninsula had seen nothing like this before, according to reports in the local newspapers. B&B Independent Bi-Lo Food Stores reopened in grand style in Soldotna on Aug. 9, 1973 — only five months after groundbreaking plans were announced in March, and only four months after the old store became a victim of arson and burned to the ground in April.

The new store, about where The Fitness Place is today, boasted 16,800 square feet of floor space under the roof of the largest clear-span building in Alaska. Other improvements included more than 300 lineal feet of grocery shelves and more than 300 feet of produce, frozen foods and dairy products.

B&B, under the direction of owner/operator Doyle Jowers, would be the first area grocery to offer takeout food. It would also feature a “gossip corner” with a coffee bar, and more than 1 acre of paved parking.

Finally, according to one story, “meat packaging, weighing and labeling (would be) handled on an endless belt machine that is controlled by a computer.”

What would Charles Dickens think?

This is a William P. Frith painting of Charles Dickens’ Dolly Varden character from the novel, “Barnaby Rudge.” The 19th century painting is featured online on David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page.

Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma) — the char that we call a trout — swim throughout the Kenai River system and, along with their cousins the Arctic char, inhabit hundreds of lakes and streams throughout Southcentral Alaska. It is perhaps their ubiquitous nature that causes residents to take their unusual name for granted.

We have Charles Dickens to thank for that appellation, although he never knew anything about the naming since he was dead when the dubbing occurred. Dickens died in 1870, and the first recorded use of “Dolly Varden” as the name for a fish occurred just a few years later.

Dolly Varden — before it was the name of a fish — was the name of a character in the Dickens novel “Barnaby Rudge,” originally published in serialized installments between February and November 1841. Dolly was the attractive young daughter of Gabriel Varden, an honest town locksmith and a key character in the novel, and she was known particularly for her style of dress, which actually spawned a “Dolly Varden fashion craze” in England in the 1870s.

Chapter 19 of “Barnaby Rudge” describes Dolly this way:

“As to Dolly, there she was again, the very pink and pattern of good looks, in a smart little cherry-coloured mantle, with a hood of the same drawn over her head, and upon the top of that hood, a little straw hat trimmed with cherry-coloured ribbons, and worn the merest trifle on one side — just enough in short to make it the wickedest and most provoking head-dress that ever malicious milliner devised.”

Dolly Varden the fish can be equally colorful, particularly at spawning time. The sides of a Dolly Varden range from a muddy gray to an olive green and are speckled with yellowish to pinkish-yellow spots. The belly of a Dolly tends to be white, except during spawning time, when it can transform into brilliant shades from pink to red or from yellow to orange. The pectoral and pelvic fins of the Dolly have white front ridges and range from pale to brilliant pink or orange.

According to several reports, Western pioneers in America found this unfamiliar but colorful “trout” and named it after Dickens’ creation.

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Art Seen: Found-object art makes for fun views

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

Glass artwork by Mary Krull is on display at the Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna.

Brandi Kerley and Nicole Lopez have teamed up to put on a nice little show at Coffee Roasters in the Red Diamond Center on Kalifornsky Beach Road this month. Lopez’s work is in watercolor, and though Kerley has an offering in that medium, she also gives us some well-executed found object paintings. Continue reading

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Plugged In: Pick good printers to look good on paper

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Good photographs look better as good prints, especially large, carefully made prints.

Getting there is the subject of this week’s column.

As we discussed last week, there are a number of good photo printers at prices affordable to most people. Although there are observable differences in the prints made by different models, you’ll be able to make a good-quality print using any of them. Your choice of printer is not a make-or-break decision. However, the inks and printing software used by a particular printer will have a major effect on the appearance of your final print, so choose wisely. Continue reading

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