Daily Archives: October 5, 2011

Aiming for wolf control — Board of Game to discuss aerial predator control to increase moose numbers

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter Moose populations have declined on the Kenai Peninsula, which biologists attribute primarily to decreased habitat. The Alaska Board of Game has directed the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to draw up a plan for aerial hunting of wolves on the peninsula as a predator-control effort to boost moose numbers.

By Naomi Klouda

Homer Tribune

A first-ever proposal to hunt and kill Kenai Peninsula wolves from the air is one of the management options on the table for discussion when the Board of Game meets in November.

The Board of Game directed the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to come up with management plans that include aerial wolf control. Peninsula moose populations have fallen below both the state’s population size objectives and the harvest objectives for more than a decade, and this has prompted the Board of Game to call for intensive management plans, said Thomas McDonough, of Homer, a Fish and Game biologist.

“Part of the process is for us, the department, to write intensive management plans to present to the board and to the public for comment,” McDonough said.

Fish and Game will have the plan available for public review 30 days prior to the meeting, scheduled for Nov. 11 to 14 in Barrow. The Board of Game is scheduled to vote on what it considers the best management plan at its meeting.

The department conducted aerial surveys in March 2010 on a portion of Game Management Unit 15A. About 41 to 47 wolves were counted at that time, McDonough said.

“The reason we had conducted the survey was due to the chronic decline in moose numbers, which was predicted by the department based on changes in habitat. Fifteen A has a rich history in wildfires that changes the habitat. This greatly benefits moose browse and increases moose numbers,” McDonough said. Continue reading

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Wild water in inlet — Waterspout spotted off Anchor Point

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Robin Lipinski is used to the unusual when looking out over Cook Inlet. Endlessly variable vistas are part of why he lives where he does, about three miles north of the Anchor River, in Anchor Point, overlooking the inlet.

“You never know what you’re gonna see out there, either ship traffic or weather,” Lipinski said.

In his seven years in that spot, or even his time in the Coast Guard, commercial fishing or as a charter fishing operator, what he saw on the water Wednesday afternoon was a first for him.

A 30-foot-diamater waterspout, whirling to life midinlet and sweeping toward shore, gorging itself on water sucked from the surface, spewing spray 40 to 50 feet in the air. If it had been on land, Lipinski figures it was strong enough to rip tin off a roof.

“It was a big white funnel that was hanging off the bottom of the cloud, then you could see it moving toward the east. The water was really just boiling,” Lipinski said. “If there were any little minnows on the surface of the water they went for a ride.”

He had been hanging shingles on his house Wednesday around 3:30 p.m., enjoying a rare period of fall warmth and calm air. Out on the water, however, conditions were not as mild.

“One side of the inlet was sunny, the other side of the inlet where the funnel was coming from was one of those big cumulonimbus clouds — one of those big thunderhead-looking things. It was actually pretty warm, and I think that’s why it formed. I think it was hot meeting cold,” Lipinski said. “It’s this time of year, I guess, when the weather’s changing. It’s winter one day, summer the next.” Continue reading

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Testing term limits — Voter group considers lawsuit against borough

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Under most circumstances, the Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers is all about voter choice and giving the electorate more direct say in Kenai Peninsula Borough government. In the Oct. 4 municipal election, however, there was an item on the ballot that ACT members did not want included — the name of assembly member Bill Smith, representing District 8, Homer.

As far as ACT is concerned, Smith should not have had the opportunity to run for re-election.

ACT members aren’t charging that Smith has done a poor job of his assembly duties, though some think Smith is friendlier to big government than they would prefer. They don’t have anything against Smith personally, per se.

“He’s a nice man but he never met a government program he didn’t think was absolutely wonderful,” said Ruby Denison, of Ninilchik, a founding ACT member. “To his credit, he always shows up to meetings prepared, he knows his stuff, he does his homework, he is well-spoken, but he just thinks wrong. He thinks the government should provide all and we think the government should get out of the way.”

ACT’s biggest grievance with Smith was that he ran for re-election at all. They believe he was ineligible, under the dictates of a term limits initiative ACT sponsored and voters approved on the 2009 municipal ballot. The initiative stipulates that assembly members may only serve two consecutive terms, with any portion of a term considered a term. Smith finished one year of Deb Germano’s three-year term representing Homer after Germano resigned from the assembly in 2007. In 2008 Smith was re-elected for a full, three-year term. ACT’s term limit initiative was approved by voters in 2009.

Under state of Alaska statutes, successful voter initiatives are not to be overturned or substantively altered for two years after the initiative takes effect. The term limits initiative took effect Oct. 13, 2009, and so is protected by state statutes until Oct. 13, 2011.

So how, then, was Smith able to run for re-election to a third consecutive term in an Oct. 5 municipal election?

(Hint: It depends on what you mean by “term.”)

(Warning: Hairsplitting ahead.) Continue reading

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On the path to happier, safer trails — Committee to plan for trails expansions into the future

By Joseph Robertia

Photo courtesy of Heidi Hanson. Heidi Hanson’s bike shows the result of an encounter with an unaware motorist on the Unity Trail near Save-U-More on Kalifornsky Beach Road. A new committee has been formed to consider ways to expand, maintain and increase the safety of trails in the Soldotna area.

Redoubt Reporter

Heidi Hanson, of Soldotna, enjoys feeling the breeze blow through her hair, fresh air filling her lungs, and the natural high that comes from exercising on her bicycle after work and on her days off.

But riding through town is not always such a carefree, beneficial experience, as she found in July.

While on the Unity Trail bike path riding past Save-U-More on Kalifornsky Beach Road, she approached an outlet for vehicles and saw one exiting, so she stopped to let the car pass. She’s learned from experience that it pays to be careful.

“People are in such a hurry to beat traffic that they either don’t look to the right when going to pull out, or if they do see you coming, a lot of times they’ll try to beat you to the path,” she said.

Not wanting to risk being struck, she pulled up on her bike and stopped so that the vehicles exiting could have the right of way. But despite her awareness, the driver didn’t look both ways before pulling out and made a tight turn onto the highway.

“I was sitting at the intersection and he looked to the left, but not to the right where I was. He turned into me and hit my bike. The front end, forks and tire were mangled,” she said.
Hanson was injured, but due to being a defensive biker, she was lucky not to have been hurt worse than she was, she said.

“It was a scary thing. Had it been 6 inches more it would have hit me directly on, but as it was I jumped off. I rolled my knee and ankle and got some road rash, but I was lucky I didn’t get dragged with the bike,” Hanson said. Continue reading

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Grandma bags a ’bou — Clam Gulch hunter finds big-game success

By Joseph Robertia

Photo courtesy of Joyce Snow. Joyce Snow, of Clam Gulch, got her first caribou this hunting season.

Redoubt Reporter

When some people think of a caribou hunter, it is not the image of a 58-year-old grandmother that comes to mind, but Joyce Snow, of Clam Gulch, has been surprising people with preconceived hunting notions for a long time.

“I didn’t get into hunting until my husband asked me to join him on his annual hunt with his brothers around Grand Rapids, Minnesota, back in about 1974. Being the only female in the party at that time, I was not well-received by all of the hunters in the group. Some didn’t believe I’d make it through the first day. But, after a weekend of trudging through prickly brush and falling sleet and snow, I earned their respect. I kept up and worked the drive like everyone else, with no complaints, and five months pregnant to boot,” she said.

Snow was no stranger to shooting sports, even though she hadn’t ever hunted before that trip. Her father was an active and experienced woodsman.

“Growing up in Minnesota, our porch was filled with the huge racks of unlucky whitetail deer that stepped into the crosshairs of my father’s rifle or shotgun. My dad was known for his steady hand and deadly aim. He could knock down an animal at 400-plus yards. I once saw him trimming branches from trees that were too close to the power line with a .22 rifle,” she said. Continue reading

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Old Duck Hunter: Ruff roads — Owners should be prepared to take care of companion dogs on the trail

Photo courtesy of Steve Meyer. Winchester demonstrated the dangers hunting dogs face in the field. Luckily, his cut paw pad wasn’t a serious injury.

By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter

As I watched the blood leaking from the torn pad of my English setter’s front leg I had a nauseated feeling that was foreign to me. Over the years my line of work and my relentless outdoor activities have resulted in some rather gruesome sights. None of that has ever bothered me in the slightest. I am that guy that can eat a cheeseburger during an autopsy. But the sight of my beloved hunting dog hurt was just about more than I could handle.

Those of us who take hunting dogs (or companion dogs) into wild places, far from immediate medical attention, understand there is a risk to our dogs and to ourselves that we accept and go forth knowing that being free in wild places is worth the risk.

We accept that an injury to ourselves or our canine partners is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. I had been thinking about Winchester running the rough mountain terrain, the way only big running setters and pointers do. The odds are an injury is going to happen, sooner or later.

On a recent trip for ptarmigan, Winchester had led us into some extremely rough country with sharp shale rock everywhere. The kind of place that most folks would think no life form would inhabit. But those folks would not know about whitetail ptarmigan.

If there is a game bird that represents the term “wild,” it is the whitetail ptarmigan. These tough birds are the smallest of the three ptarmigan species that inhabit the Kenai, the other two being the rock and willow versions. Whitetails live in places that simply seem incapable of supporting a life form. And they are the longest lived of the ptarmigan species. Nature is a tough one to figure at times. Continue reading

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Drinking on the Last Frontier — Here comes the bride ale

By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell.

As our only child, our daughter, Liana, has just had her wedding on Sunday, you can understand that for the last several months the Howell household has been primarily focused on things matrimonial. Still, it shouldn’t surprise you that, like most things in life, there’s a strong beer component to the history of the marriage ceremony.

This strong influence is reflected in the very language we use. Our word “bridal” is a contraction of the original “bride ale.” A bride ale was a special beer brewed for the occasion, either consumed at the wedding feast or sometimes sold to raise a nest egg for the newlyweds.

Evidently these beers could be quite potent and the celebrations at which they were consumed more than a little boisterous, as there are references in English law books all the way back to 1075 to disturbances and arrests associated with the consumption of bride ales, as well as edicts from the authorities to brewers not to make bride ales of undue strength.

Of course, the association of fermented beverages with marriage doesn’t stop with the wedding ceremony. Our word “honeymoon” developed from the custom of supplying a young couple with a month’s supply of mead (fermented honey) to ensure happiness and fertility. When the wife became pregnant, another special beer was brewed, called a groaning ale. This strong beer was aged for several months as the pregnancy came to term, and then served to the woman in labor and the attending midwives.

When the baby was born, he or she would be washed in this ale. This may seem strange to us, but before modern times, most water sources were dangerously unsanitary. Far better to wash a newborn in ale, a beverage sterilized by boiling and in which no harmful pathogens can survive. Continue reading

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