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12/30/14 - Stray bison on Kodiak Island declared off limits for hunting

Trespassing bison on Kodiak safe from hunters               

Friday the Alaska Supreme Court overturned a 2007 Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulation that declared Kodiak's bison herds were feral if they stayed too long outside state grazing lease lands. As feral animals, they could be hunted like wild animals. Kodiak rancher Charles Dorman had unsuccessfully appealed the Board of Game regulation to state superior court in 2010. Last week, the Alaska Supreme Court overturned the lower court ruling, saying the state's definition of “feral” was arbitrary. Plains Bison were brought to Kodiak Island 50 years ago or so as a hardier alternative to cattle, which bears were taking in large numbers. The bigger, stronger bison are better able to fend off bears… and to break through barbed wire fences. State officials say the state still has jurisdiction over and will continue to enforce grazing lease boundaries.  


Financing pulled on Tulsequah Chief Mine upriver from Juneau

A financial backer has pulled out of an agreement to reopen the Tulsequah Chief Mine in British Columbia. Colorado-based Royal Gold, which had agreed to invest $45 million for construction, gave no reason for ending its agreement with developer Chieftain Metals Corporation. Canadian officials report the old mine is leaking sulfuric acid into the Tulsequah river, which empties into the Taku River located ten miles southeast of Juneau. The state Department of Natural Resources says the Taku is the largest salmon-producing river system in southeast Alaska.


Federal Subsistence Office seeks local residents to serve on regional advisory councils

The federal office of subsistence management is seeking applicants for the ten subsistence regional advisory councils that provide information and recommendations on fish and wildlife management proposals to the Federal Subsistence Board.

Carl Johnson is the Council Coordination Division Chief, in the federal Office of Subsistence Management. He says the number of applicants to serve on the regional councils has been dropping over the years.

“So far we have only received a dozen applications for 36 open seats on ten regional councils,” says Johnson. “Historically, for first 10 years of the program,” he continues, “we had a really good number of applicants, an average of 104. For the past 10 years, we've seen a 30% decline, with an average of 70. For the last few years, it's continued to decline.” 

Johnson says reasons for the drop in applications aren’t known. But he wants people to know that the regional councils have an important role in subsistence management on federal public lands. Except in limited circumstances, the federal subsistence board is required to give deference to council input on fish and wildlife proposals. In recent years, Johnson says the board has adopted regional recommendations 90% of the time.

“Most of the people who get on the regional advisory councils stay on them for a long period of time,” says Johnson, “because they realize that once they get on those councils, they have an opportunity to really meaningful influence subsistence management. It's a great opportunity for them to make sure their communities’ and regions' voice is heard. It's a really meaningful and rewarding experience I think

Johnson says Council meetings do involve travel. “What the federal subsistence management program does is it pays for all airfare and lodging for the council members when they travel for their meetings,” says Johnson. “It also provides them a per diem to cover any food expenses or other expenses they have when they travel. Typically the meetings are two days long. So we have them travel the day before the meeting and return the day after so there's about four days travel twice a year.”

Applicants need to be knowledgeable about subsistence and other fish and wildlife uses in their area. The deadline for applications to serve on a subsistence regional advisory council is Jan. 23.


UAF students win competition with idea on how to extract North Slope heavy oil without melting permafrost

Two University of Alaska Fairbanks students have won an engineering competition to come up with ideas for extracting heavy oil from Alaska's North Slope. Heavy oil has the consistency of thick peanut butter. Heating it to ease flow rates would melt surrounding permafrost and destabilize the ground. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Max Martell and Stephen Nemethy III of UAF proposed using sub-freezing fluid, such as liquid carbon dioxide, to keep nearby areas frozen. The team, which included a Purdue University student, will receive a $2,000 prize.