October 1 – 2, 2011

Mostly new, but some old…

Are Guns More Effective Than Pepper Spray in an Alaska Bear Attack?

courtesy of the Alaska Dispatch
by Rick Sinnot

Another bunch of Outsiders suffer a mauling in Alaska. I’m not just referring to the grizzly bear attacking seven teens in late July. I’m talking about the drubbing dished out by Alaskans who believe a gun is the best — some would say only — insurance against a bear attack.

A flurry of swats and biting comments were delivered in response to articles in the Anchorage Daily News. Within days the first article racked up 945 often acidic jabs. Several follow-up articles provoked another 569 shots. Most of the authors used pseudonyms, but many comments appeared to be written by Alaskans.

What provoked the electronic attack? Seven teens ranging from 16-18 years old were in their fourth week of a wilderness backpacking course sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School. NOLS is a highly respected organization that teaches leadership, teamwork, environmental ethics, first aid, and wilderness skills, including bear safety. The group was on the first day of a “student expedition,” which caps the month-long course by permitting the teens to demonstrate what they had learned, without adult supervision. Surprised by a brown bear in the western Talkeetna Mountains, four of the teens sustained injuries. Three members of the group carried a can of bear spray, which none had time to deploy. The teens were not allowed to carry firearms.

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September 20 – 30, 2011

Some new shots, as well as a few older ones that I’m finally getting around to processing.

‘Tougher-Than-Nails’ Hunter Survives Grizzly Attack

courtesy of Anchorage Daily News
by Casey Grove

A moose hunter attacked by a grizzly bear north of the Denali Highway survived the severe mauling Monday after hiking to his camp, traveling by boat downriver to a wilderness lodge then getting an airlift via Alaska Air National Guard helicopter to an Anchorage hospital.

Donald “Skip” Sanford, 65, was hunting about five miles upriver from the Maclaren River Lodge when the bear attacked, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Sanford had been hunting with his son John, 12, his friend Monty Dyson, 47, and Dyson’s son Chad, 22, Dyson said.

Dyson relayed Sanford’s story Tuesday by radio phone from the lodge, which sits on the highway 42 miles east of Cantwell.

Sanford walked away from camp Monday about 2 or 3 p.m. to find a hand-held radio he lost earlier, Dyson said.

Sanford was on a game trail when he saw the bear stand up, Dyson said. Sanford backed up, but the bear seemed to circle around him, Dyson said.

Sanford told rescuers he first saw the grizzly about 75 yards away from him, said Joe Snyder, one of the many people at the lodge who helped treat Sanford and get him out of the wilderness. The bear quickly closed the gap between them, Snyder said.

“He turned around and the bear was about 20 yards away, and it was coming at him pretty fast with its head down,” Snyder said.

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September 1 – 19, 2011

Does Science Back up Alaska’s Policy of Killing Grizzly Bears?

courtesy of Alaska Dispatch
by Rick Sinnot

Four years ago the Alaska Legislature offered Gov. Sarah Palin and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game a special deal: $400,000 to “educate” voters on predator control. The money — spent mostly on a video, glossy brochures and public presentations — was meant to persuade and reassure Alaskans that predator control is essential and effective.

Firmly convinced he’s doing the right thing, the new director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation at Fish and Game, Corey Rossi, is taking predator control to new levels. For the first time since statehood, Alaska has targeted grizzly bears for large-scale population reductions, not by hunters but by agents of the state.

The publicity campaign, Rossi, Governor Sean Parnell and the Alaska Legislature would like you to believe that scientific experts on predator and prey populations — particularly the professional wildlife biologists and researchers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game — unanimously support killing bears to increase numbers of moose and caribou.

But some of those experts have questioned the efficacy and advisability of reducing numbers of grizzly bears in a peer-reviewed article in the latest edition of the Journal of Wildlife Management.

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August 15 – 31, 2011