Archive for the ‘Grizzly bears’ Category

Predators, Not An Easy Answer!

March 31, 2011

(Editor Note: This is the third in a series of posts concerning predators in at least one part of rural Alaska. The first was Buckled Ice….” which covered some of the difficulties of traveling to an area Advisory Committee, the second A Rogue Grizzly, What It Cost us!”covers the Christmas Eve event that gave one family still more motivation to be involved in ‘the process’ of game management in Alaska. )

The Alaska Peninsula

In the days and weeks following the brutal attack in our yard by the ‘rogue’ Brown Bear we struggled to try to figure out why this unusual event happened. If  it had happened any other time but during a lengthy cold spell, with good snow cover and  in the winter, it would have been tragic but maybe not as alarming. Occasionally, we  have sightings of bears in the winter but they usually have been driven out by warm/wet weather and are looking only to den up again and stay away from villages. Any starving bears  would most likely not denned up to start. Bears as a whole, even out here in the ‘bush’, prefer to stay away from humans. They do not come into town, as has been known in larger cities, as there are no garbage cans or food left out for the easy pickings. They will venture nearer village areas when human activity is low to pull fish out of nets in the summer, but usually they avoid direct contact with human and even dog encounters. As a whole they avoid dogs like the plague because of the barking and nipping dogs tend to do.

At Christmas Eve  dinner the evening of the attack with the rest of our small village we, of course,  discussed the totally out-of-character, brutal attack on our dog by this bear. We talked about how one resident had been ‘mock’ charged by bears twice this past summer, once from behind. In every bear encounter we in the village  had, were either ones the bear made moves to get away, or allowed the human to get out-of-the-way.  None of us felt we were stalked for the sake of killing outright, as did the bear that killed our dog.

We came to find out a few days later that a bear had been spotted south of our village, surrounded by wolves. This drew concern as we wonder if the wolves that were lately being driven away from villages had taken to looking for bears in dens, as a food source. If they were successful this would happen more. There was also concern about if this bear had some illness like rabies. ( A quick internet search showed that although it happens, in Brown/Grizzly it is rare) We still had to wonder why he was not just looking to re-den up, or head  south where there were easier and more plentiful game to be had.  He had an adequate fat layer and coat that lead all of us to believe he had been denned up.

The state of Alaska admits it does not have good ‘numbers’ on a variety of fronts in regards to game and one of those is how many nuisance bears are killed each season. They are aware that the vast majority, many figure roughly 90%, of nuisance killings are not reported. Most have to agree that the regulation that requires whomever kills the bear to skin it and along with the skull ship it to the Fish & Game office.  NO one has time or the inclination to do this  time-consuming job especially when they are pushing to put up their food stores for the winter or make the majority of yearly income in a few short weeks. (Most nuisance bears happen in the spring and summer, with very few in the fall.)

Not doing this task of skinning  will usually result in a ticket issued, and a large fine. It is considered wanton waste of an animal by the state, and thus the penalties.

Presently what happens most often with nuisance bears is either they are shot badly enough to go off and die somewhere, usually a gut shot, or they are killed outright and disposed of in a river or pulled out into the bush. This leads to the added burden of orphaned cubs that either starve to death or  are killed by other bears in the area. They also many times must also be killed by a resident as they become an issue unto themselves.

People in the villages stay quiet about this as a whole. All of this leads to virtually no reporting of the issue to troopers and Fish & Game.  This is one of the missing factors in good management, a lack of good numbers. A change/modification in the regulation for skinning appears to be a good start.

Two orphaned cubs left to starve after the mother 'disappeared'

On top of this issue you have increased populations of wolves that are starving. There is plenty of evidence from sightings, trappers and those who hunt them and of course the death of the teacher from a starving pack. (Update: from recent discussions with trappers the general population seems to have taken a good hit this winter and we are seeing  less wolves overall. Also those trapped have not shown drastic signs of starving, as was seen the last few years)

Wolves in this area have been gaining not only numbers to the best of everyone’s understanding but at the same time our caribou herds have crashed and more pressure is being put on our dwindling moose population. We had the horrific death last year of a local school teacher by wolves. The pack that attacked her was starving, chased her down and killed her. (In the past we had a healthy trapping group that used airplanes to access hard to reach areas. That is no longer, thus the numbers of wolves have slowly increased)

Our area, the Alaska Peninsula, has been managed for years for outside hunters, and for trophy sized bears. This is an issue that has been in the making for YEARS and is going to take some time to get back into balance.

In the view of many, and which has happened in many areas of Alaska, all this ‘management’ for hunters has caused populations to become greatly out of balance.

There is evidence that the caribou herds grew so large they overgrazed the area, and then a number of added factors lead to the numbers crashing in the last 10 years.  Then through a variety of policies the area had little to no way to reduce the Brown Bear population, which is usually through being easily able to get rid of the bears that hung around villages. At the same time outside hunters were coming in and killing the largest bears. (Large male bears, boars, are some of the best birth control as they kill cubs and younger weaker bears helping greatly to keep the population in a better balance).

For some time now the Lower Bristol Bay Advisory committee, our local arm of access to the Game Board, has been working to make suggestions on either hunting restrictions, a predator program or changes in the regulations to get in front of the issue of game being in a better ‘balance’.

This year the state actually submitted a proposal to allow for any ‘nuisance bear’  to be killed within 5 miles of a village with the hopes of reducing those bears that cause issues. Amendments have been offered to modify the skinning requirement. There are a number of other proposals to change dates of and/or lengthen bear hunts to hopefully result in a better number taken. 

Various wolf programs have been already taken on in small ways to reduce those populations. (Since the death of the teacher monies have been ‘found’ to offer trapping workshops so local trappers can learn to be more efficient and humane while reducing numbers)

Our hope is that during this time we had before the Game Board the subject was listened to and the changes that were agreed upon by the board can be implemented.

It also appears that residents, local hunters, game managers, lodge owners and guides need to come together to draft at least area suggestions/plans of how best to understand and manage the game we all rely on.  Resources can be managed more efficiently, locals can help with numbers and spotting of animals, once trained and we can be creative in how best to accomplish balanced goals. It is so much easier to just complain of lack of budgets, no one listening, or a variety of other whines but harder to find common ground to work toward solutions.

There are a number of entities, from the federal and state governments, tribes/cities to residents that need to find a way to coordinate research, animal surveys, reporting and other input needed to accomplish the goals worked out with the needs of all.

We should hear in the coming weeks how all the changes that were agreed to by the board will be implemented and if they will have any impact.

A Rogue Grizzly, What It Cost Us!

March 4, 2011

March 4, 2011

(Editor’s note – This is the second post in a series that deals with some of the impact of the state’s game ‘management’ practices. The first post “Buckled Ice…..” spoke of some of the obstacles in attempting to be involved in the discussion)

WARNING THIS POST IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART!!

First – let’s correct the misuse of the word Grizzly.

Alaska calls the same bear a “Brown Bear”, not a Grizzly.

We are dealing with the issue of predators, how they impact those of us who LIVE in the areas affected by some of the state’s  management practices and what it costs, at least for some of us!!!

The Alaska Peninsula is that skinny part of Alaska that leads down to the Aleutian Islands and has Bristol Bay on the west side of it. The State Board of Game rotates on a 3 year schedule through the various areas of the state. Our area runs the 4th through the 10 this month. This is also the area where the young teacher was attacked and killed by the wolf pack last year despite years of us being told wolves do not attack people. (Unfortunately these meeting are  not held in the areas affected so residents can speak to the issues, but  in Anchorage or, like this year, a suburb of Anchorage! This effectively greatly limits our rural voices being heard in person.)

We, a group of villages, in this ‘game area’ will be trying to get the attention of the Game Board these few days to present our side of the past years’ ‘management’ of predators and how we have paid for that ‘management’.

That isn't blood from the bear!

All of this came right to our yard in a different, but just as brutal and upsetting way on Christmas Eve, just a few months ago.

My family and our two dogs returned on Christmas Eve from our local airport and collecting our mail. It was a cold day, in the negatives, and with a good snow cover. There was a gentle wind from the north. The weather had been this way for a good month or so and we were in winter mode of watching for wolves in the wee hours. We were not worried about Brown bear as they had been denned up for probably close to two months.

We got out of the car in our driveway and one of us started packing mail and packages into the house while the other walked the opposite direction to check our generator, about 150 yards away. The dogs were in the yard between us just generally sniffing around. The yard is cleared and no brush is around for some distance. Generally this is an area that wild animals avoid as they are totally exposed and near humans. The village we live in, as a whole, is pretty active year around.

On my second trip into the entry to drop mail our one dog that is the ‘warning or alarm’  animal started barking loudly with her ‘serious danger’ bark. I raced out near her and called for our second dog, who had been there just minutes ago. I heard a kind of weird/odd snarl sound but nothing else. No second dog and the other one racing to the side of the yard near a gentle slope.

I yelled and my spouse ran toward the area I thought I heard the sound come from. Then came the scream to get back, a bear had just killed our dog!! My heart took a twist and my stomach dropped. This doesn’t happen in a village and definitely not this time of year!!

The one that shed all the blood in the above picture!

I can’t tell you the shock in his voice or his frantic run to the house for a gun. Our other dog was now trying to charge that area and yet keep me safe, just yards away.

Upon getting the gun we ran toward where the bear and dog were. From just  a few feet away he   dispatched  the bear immediately.

This bear  showed NO FEAR. I can’t stress this enough…bears do not like humans and REALLY do not like guns. They always turn and run when they hear the click of a gun. We have heard of hunters who stumbled upon a bear in the middle of feeding and been ‘barked’ at but they usually will show sign of wanting to get away when they hear a gun ‘click’.

The dog was dead except for the last futile convulsion her body was going through. She had died in seconds as he jumped her from behind, broke her back and then crushed her skull. She did not have time to yip or even whine.

The dog that HATES bears never got a chance to bark a warning. She most likely saw him or smelled him once he got close to her, as the wind was blowing towards him and away from our dogs.

This bear not only killed our dog but stalked and raced to kill her. We were able to trace his prints back in the fresh snow and see where he planted his paws and started the race to kill her.

Our surprise, as well as all others who have lived here all their lives, came on two fronts. First that we had a Brown bear , called a Grizzly in the lower 48, out this time of year when the weather had been so cold and we had so much snow cover. No one we have talked to since this happened can recall this happening during their life time.

The second surprise was that he stalked her and came into a definitely human area to kill. He was not surprised, there was no food to protect, there were no cubs to protect, we did not have food to entice him in, it was just plain bizarre on many fronts.

After the first round of shock we realized we were equally as close to the original spot the bear started from and within obvious sight of him, or at least smell, as the dog he killed. Had he chosen to go straight instead of veering to the left it would have been me; going to the right, he would have had gotten my spouse.

We KNOW that this bear would not have mauled us but killed us just like the dog, and the ability for one of us to help the other would have been futile …

When that realization sets in  you change how you walk out your front door in this part of the country, even in the relatively ‘safe’ winter.

(The next post will look into why things might have gotten to this point)

Buckled Ice, Overflow, and Other Obstacles

February 16, 2011

Heading across overflow

Feb 16, 2011

One of the things that most Alaskans feel is a positive about our state is the ability for its citizens to get involved in the ‘politics’ of the state and stand the chance of actually having an impact if so desired.

Predator controls, aerial wolf shooting , a teacher killed by wolves, bear maulings, coupled with subsistence issues have all made the headlines in the past. All of these issues get dealt with, or ignored, by our state Board of Game, part of the state’s Department of Fish and Game. The Board members are appointed, once they voice an interest, by the Governor and then confirmed by the legislature for terms that  expire on a rotating basis.

There are a number of Advisory Committees, each dedicated to a specific geographical area and serve as a place for local residents and villages to address issues that come before the Board of Game.  Anyone can make proposals for changes in statues of how game units are run.  Every three years each area comes before the Board for those proposals to be reviewed and dealt with.

The Alaska Peninsula, that long skinny part of the state that stretches out to where the Aleutian Islands begins is up before the Board in March. Proposals have all been submitted months ago by a variety of local residents, village and city councils, guides, concerned citizens and of course the Department of Fish and Game.

Our Advisory Board, that deals with a small portion of that area, met this about three weeks in Pilot Point.

Due to a horrific event on Christmas Eve that happened in our yard the interest from this household was even more peaked than normal.  This interest comes on top of heightened interest due to an area teacher being attacked and killed by wolves last year, a continued issue with nuisance Brown bears and diminished opportunities for hunting game meat.

To make it to that meeting those of us in the villages near Pilot Point had one option of traveling over the frozen swamps, lakes and river to get there.

While making this trip under mostly blue skies, low winds and temperatures hovering around 0 degrees, not counting windchill it came to mind that many would have no idea what that entailed.

This distance between the two villages is only about 7 miles by way of the crow flying but overland in the winter it turns into about a 10-12 mile trek.  Snowmobiles and 4-wheelers traversus a frozen river, a number of creeks both frozen and not, frozen lakes, and a swamp that can frozen but again can have spots where it is not. (the thing to remember is we are near active volcanoes and this means there is activity that keeps some things from freezing solid all winter)

There has been some good snowfall in the week beforehand that I had heard caused a few places in the trail to need shoveling to clear. Also the trail is not marked except by tracks from traffic which can disappear from either more heavy snowfall or thawing that erase them.

We have to deal with things like ‘overflow’ which is where the tide as it moved up and down seeps up into low areas where the ice is cracked.

Overflow...where water seeps up through the ice when it rises.

We must also move through areas where the ice has not frozen smooth. These types of areas can have parts where it is just a little heave…..

Buckled ice on the edge of the river



….or these heave areas can go on for some time and be higher or rougher than you can transverse with a snowmobile or 4-wheeler.

Trying to find a safe way off or onto the river.

There is also the issue of getting on and off the actual river. Think of it this way….if all the ‘beach’ is taken up and all you have are the high banks of the river…how do you get up and over it?

Of course we have the normal issue of things like fog.  I have literally seen fog move fast enough to overtake a speeding skiff!! Just the other day I watched the fog roll in ……

Looking north toward our village, watching fog move in.....

…….and cover more than 8 miles in less than 5 minutes!

Still looking north but less than 5 minutes later!!!

So,  given all these issues sometimes getting to a meeting to lend your voice to an issue needs a little extra ‘consideration’  than just jumping in a car for the short 7 mile ride!!

It’s That Time of Year Again…Spring in Ugashik

May 18, 2010

It has been a heck of a ride since this time last year. So many ups and downs. We got through last summer – one that saw a fish harvest that was drastically better than the season of ’08.

My understanding, from my contacts on the Yukon and the season’s forecasts, is that they are expecting something better this year, after the disastrous the ’09 season. We will see if we can get you an update on how things are looking up there after breakout.

Our winter temperatures of 2009/10 were not as cold, although we did get caught with higher than normal snowfall during what many call the start of spring – February to April and finally onto a late break up of the river.

Thank the heavens the fuel prices were much lower, $2-$3 in our area, than the previous year.

To think that just a little over a week ago the river was chocked full of ice and now the beaches are ice free. We still have some drifts of snow hanging around in places, but they are fading fast.

The first of the freight hauls, of all sorts of equipment, supplies and big things you can’t bring in other ways, started this week. So much to move in such a short window of time.

May 5th with ice in the river and YES that is a walrus that just washed up on our beach, 20 miles up river. No one in the area remember ever having a  “Wally” this far up river!!

During all this we had a little excitement…..a walrus washed up on our beach. Mind you we are 20 miles up river and no one remembers, EVER remembers, us having a walrus this far up river. There had been a week of heavy winds that we think blew him in and then he somehow got trapped or hurt in all of it. It is sad that he died, and on our front doorstep, but neat that we all got to see him, how huge and just the wonder of these guys.

This might give you an idea of the size of one of these guys!!

Bear season, which is an every other year thing, opened this past Monday in this area. So far, from what we hear, most of them are not out and moving around much as there is still a fair amount of snow pack up high still.

A local ‘growler’ deciding he wants to check out a local’s target. He is just a ‘little’ guy, standing probably about 6′-7′ (Photo: Robert Dreeszen, Ugashik Lakes)

Please understand I enjoy our Brown Bear (Grizzly to some of you) and all they bring to the area. What I do not like seeing is them starving. There are so many of them that they wander into the villages looking for food. This can’t be allowed as it is just too dangerous. This includes moms and babes, which usually means the moms get shot and then in a few weeks, when the babes are REALLY starving we have to shoot them too.

I am hoping that the guides and the lodges in the area are very successful in thinning the ones they can, which is usually the males. That the locals who have a tag on their hunting license allowing them to kill a bear, which we are only allowed one every 5 years, can do still more thinning, again usually males.

This might give the moms and babes a better chance…but I am off the general subject I started on.

We are currently hiring crew for the operation. Thankfully that chore is almost done. It is hard to choose people that you feel will make the journey, work out well, make as much money as they possibly can and most importantly go away from our part of Alaska feeling they had a heck of a good experience. Since no matter how much you send pictures, have people read testimonials or try to prepare them for either Alaska or the fishing season in Bristol Bay you just can’t.

We continue to work on getting our new airstrip improved. This project will likely take another couple of years to get it where we can accept most aircraft used in the bush and used on a year around basis if needed.

I am sure most people have no idea how vital airstrips are to most of rural Alaska. Given we have no highways connecting major hubs or even between most villages. Without airstrips that are long enough to allow various sized freight and passenger airplanes to make deliveries and pickups it leave us to the mercy of many times only one airline. I AM sure most people can guess what that means when it comes to cost and service.

Fishermen, processing and support companies are scrambling to get people hired, supplies shipped in for these few short months of work. The barges from the lower 48 and Anchorage have been heading this way for the last few weeks. I heard today the ice pack is still not far off shore in the bay which has to be delaying some deliveries farther north.

Village governments are putting their orders in for at least their spring and summer fuel. Projects that require good weather are in full swing, or close to it.

The Ugashik Lakes have ‘blown out’ most of their heavy ice and thus pretty much ice free. This year there is a research sonar project to count our out migration of salmon smolt, baby fish,  in the next few weeks. I will be giving you a glimpse into that project in the next weeks. It is exciting for us and a great tool that is so needed.

The ‘rural’ part of Alaska is alive and busy and we will be sharing more as we move forward.

~ Victoria Briggs

Victoria Briggs: Predator Control

February 3, 2010

Feb 3, 2010

Alaska Game Board shoots down predator control provision

This issue is one that is hard for many of us to wrap ourselves around as not only Alaska residents but also as US residents.
First off this decision involves only an area that the ANCHORAGE Fish and Game Advisory had made a recommended an action on. This is NOT for the entire state.

I believe it is an allocation issue as it is between the user groups of the hunters of the area, then Alaskan residents hunters and finally as US residents hunters who come up to hunt.
I also agree that predator control and allocation are both issues that need to be taken on a case by case basis.

The residents and the state need to make a concerted effort, in my view, to bring all the stake holders to the table to work out a plan for each area that manages for a healthy stock resource, then the rest of the issues will fall into place.

Putting revenue generating above anything else is a short term effort and one the state should trend lightly with.

Alaska Game Board shoots down predator control provision

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Board of Game has shot down a provision that would have prevented nonresidents from hunting in predator control areas where subsistence needs aren’t being met.

The seven-member board voted against the proposal Monday brought to the board by the Anchorage Fish & Game Advisory Committee.

Click HERE to read the whole story in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Happy Anniversary Anonymous Bloggers! Looking back on our first year:

January 21, 2010

Anonymous Bloggers

Working together to bring relief to our fellow Americans!

Jan 21, 2010

Has it really been a year since Jane started this site?  We went from just a few of us who gathered here to exchange ideas on how to bring relief to rural Alaska, to having hundreds of people visiting here every day brainstorming both short and long term solutions to the issues that face rural Alaska.

We remember in the beginning when we first got excited that we had more visitors than board members.  Today we have someone visiting AB on average every 6 minutes!

What has brought nearly 100,000 hits to Anonymous Bloggers this first year?  Let us review.   Please feel free to wander the side bar and the archives to see everything we’ve been doing.

Here’s the time-line Jane created with a lot of hard work and patience.

Anonymous Bloggers our 1st year…a review…..

Jane started AB on January 21st, 2009  but we need to go back a few weeks before that to get a full understanding of why she made this decision.

Nicholas Tucker, Yup'ik Elder, Emmonak, Alaska

January 9, 2009

The crisis in rural Alaska came to light when Nicholas Tucker presented a letter to Fuel Summit Participants sharing the stories of people in his village who were suffering. His story was picked up by regional news outlets and eventually became headline news in Alaska.

Emmonak man seeks food airlift to combat economic crisis

A combination of extreme cold and high fuel prices has created a humanitarian crisis for the village of Emmonak, according to resident Nicholas Tucker.

January 14, 2009

Prominent Alaska blogger AKM brought the crisis in rural Alaska to the attention of hundreds of readers on her blog, TheMudflats, and asked for donations to send a filmmaker to Emmonak to document the situation. The footage eventually appeared on CNN.

A Cry for Help from Rural Alaska. Is Anyone Listening?

The Mudflats

January 14, 2009

One of our local progressive media heroes, Dennis Zaki of The Alaska Report, is stepping up trying to raise money to get to Emmonak and other villages to put a camera where it needs to be. Many national and international media outlets are interested in seeing footage. Flights are not inexpensive, and he’ll be traveling on his own dime. If you want to help put a spotlight on this issue as it relates to Emmonak and ALL Alaska’s rural villages in crisis, consider donating with the Paypal button below.

***

Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker interviewed on KUDO.

Hope Coming to Emmonak and Beyond?

The Mudflats

January 14, 2009

If you didn’t get the opportunity to hear Nick Tucker talk to CC on KUDO, he had a message for all those who have stepped up to help rural Alaskans who are having to make the choice of whether to keep their children and elders warm, or fed. “It’s a blessed day. It’s like angels have landed on Earth.”

January 16, 2009

AnnS left this comment on TheMudflats:

January 17, 2009

Enough money to pay for Dennis Zaki’s flight has been raised and he is set to depart the following day.

Alaska’s Rural Villages in Crisis – Update.

The Mudflats
January 17, 2009 Thanks to generous contributions to the effort, many coming from Mudflatters, Dennis Zaki of The Alaska Report has raised enough money to pay for travel to Emmonak and other remote villages, to talk to locals on camera, and capture footage for use by the national media. Dennis needed $2000 for his ticket, and will distribute the rest for energy relief when he arrives in the bush. As of this writing, there is $6283. in the account!

***

AnnS left a comment on Margaret& Helen’s blog (a blog that went viral in the fall when Helen made one of many on-target assessments of Sarah Palin’s character) saying that the crisis was more widespread. More people jumped into help.

By: Struggling in Nunam Iqua

January 17, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Hi everyone,

I was asked to come here and blog. I have been blogging on themudflats.net about how it isn’t just Emmonak that is struggling.

It’s not just Emmonak that is struggling it’s the entire Yukon Delta. I live in Nunam Iqua, a village that is 25 miles south of Emmonak. Not only are we faced with the same issues as Emmonak but also our crisis is harder because we no longer have a store here. Our trading post collapsed several months ago, so we have no place here to get groceries.

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January 21, 2009

The attention the crisis in rural Alaska was receiving in the comments section on Helen & Margaret’s blog caused complaints by some who thought the conversation was to far off-topic. Information about ways to help were strewn across the comments section of a number of blogs – it need a clearinghouse.

We our started our Facebook group and registered our domain name on Jan 21, 2009

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January 23, 2009

The first boxes arrive in Nunam Iqua and we started our blog!

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January 25, 2009

The first, and maybe only, story in the main stream print media about the crisis was published in the Los Angeles Times on January 25, 2009.

In rural Alaska, villagers suffer in near silence

By Kim Murphy

January 25, 2009

Reporting from Tuluksak, Alaska — As the temperature plunged to minus-40 degrees last month, Nastasia Wassilie waited.

The 61-year-old widow had run out of wood and fuel oil, and had no money to buy more. Nor was there much food in the house.

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February 5, 2009

Almost a month after the crisis in Alaska made news there, CNN brought it to national attention

In rural Alaska villages, families struggle to survive

By Mallory Simon

CNN

(CNN) — Thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full, residents say.

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February 6, 2009

Victoria Briggs first reported that the suffering extends to the Alaska Peninsula.

Letter: Hardship exists on the Alaska Peninsula, too

Victoria Briggs Ugashik February 6, 2009 at 1:28PM AST

Before you read any farther please realize we are not putting our hand out for assistance, but certainly do need it! I am a resident in a village that is very small, 10-12 full time residents, that face many of the same issues that the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta does.

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February 13, 2009

Food and donations from far-flung relief efforts begin to make a difference.

Worldwide donations find way to lower Yukon

A wave of donated food and cash has swept into lower Yukon River villages over the past month, with more than 19,000 pounds of supplies and $13,000 landing in Emmonak alone.

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February 17, 2009

The first boxes of food arrive in Ugashik/Pilot Point

ugaVic Says:

February 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Update – the first food reached us yesterday, thanx Seattle and MO (forgot the town – is written down – will fill in later) We got a box of food out to each of our most needy households yesterday. Since we hadn’t really said much about what we were doing until we had our food show up, they were surprised, overwhelmed and just so grateful my words can’t say enough. All of you who are working on this have them so surprised that someone actually cares – I can’t tell you the impact that has already made.

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February 19, 2009

Sarah Palin announces plan to visit rural villages on February 20.

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February 20, 2009

Sarah Palin Visits Russian Mission with Samaritan’s Purse

Video of Sarah Palin, upon leaving Wasilla with Samaritan’s Purse personalities to deliver faith-based aid to the villages of Russian Mission and Marshall. She states government is not the answer, faith-based organizations can help in the interim, but suggests young people should consider leaving their villages to find temporary work and return to the villages with the salaries the have earned to take part in the subsistence living skills they are trying to preserve.

Nicolas Tucker Sr., the brave villager from Emmonak who brought this crisis to our attention, flew to Russian Mission to speak with Sarah Palin. View a video of their conversation.

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March 2, 2009

Sustainable Gardening Becomes a Topic

The last few weeks in February brought some lively chatter in our Cold Weather Gardening threads. We were looking for sustainable solutions to life in the bush and got plenty of ideas and suggestions. Victoria answered many questions about garden tunnels and potatoes as a traditional staple; her growing season and tomatos and the 90 one-day-old chicks she was raising for summer egg production.

She told us privately she had been trying to get funds from the Ugashik and Pilot Point Village Councils to attend a sustainable gardening conference in Fairbanks to help start a community garden in Pilot Point but had not been successful.

We asked you to come up with creative ways to get her there.

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March 6, 2009

Victoria Will Travel to the Sustainable Gardening Conference in Fairbanks:

Thanks to all of you I am going to the sustainable/gardening conference!!!

L.Gardener stepped up and offered to pay for my plane ticket so it would be a ‘for sure’ thing. Then as people contributed we could gather funds and reimburse her. That is now done with a number of people from all over jumping in to help defray the cost. She shares some of the things she learned in her garden journal.

Victoria is a powerhouse! This post is a must-read to get an idea of her energetic enthusiasm in pursuing a more stable and richer life for Native Alaskans. By the end of it she’s already talking about her next project – the salmon bycatch issue!

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Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker rips Sarah Palin for “disrespect”

Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker wrote to AlaskaReport.com editor Dennis Zaki and asked him to print his letter about his dissatisfaction with Governor Sarah Palin’s slow and lackluster response to the food/fuel crisis plaguing the villages of Western Alaska.

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March 17, 2009

Salmon Bycatch in the Pollock Fisheries

Our first post about the devastating effects salmon bycatch in the pollock fishing industry was having on the the salmon fisheries rural Alaskans depend on for winter sustenance.

We called for people to write letters to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which would be meeting in Anchorage April 1-7, demanding they call for a lower bycatch number than the one they were considering. We posted a petition and collected signatures from people from across the US and Canada and as far away as Germany who endorsed a lower bycatch. They were delivered by hand before the March 25 deadline for comments.

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March 31, 2009

Victoria to Attend the NPFMC Salmon Bycatch Meeting in Anchorage

Victoria, in an update, reported that she and Ann had been invited to attend the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting to speak before the council about the effects salmon bycatch is having on rural Alaska.

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April 5, 2009

Victoria Live Blogs From the NPFMC Salmon Bycatch Meeting

Victoria wrote about her first two days at the NPFMC meeting and continued to live blog through the rest of the conference. Sadly, the 68,392 limit was adopted, not the 32,500 that we had been urging, but Vic gave it all she had on behalf of all of us.

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April 16-27, 2009

Unusually early break-up on the Ugashik River

Normally it is right around the very end of April or the first of May before we start to see holes in the ice or the river flowing.

We usually go through days or even a week or more of open holes and areas of water. Then some breaking up of the river. We woke up Sunday morning, after a night of some winds in the 20-30 knot range and the river was flowing some.

Hubby, who grew up in the village does not ever remember it going from basically solid to flowing like this.

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April 24, 2009

First the bad news…

Out of Fuel in Nunam Iqua

Ann reported that Nunam Iqua’s fuel/stove oil tank had run dry. This happened because the early fall freeze in 2008 prevented their last fuel order from being delivered.

The next day, with the food drive slowing down, she and Victoria gave us a detailed update on the situations in their villages. This post offers another glimpse of the monumental task Ann and Vic undertook to help their fellow villagers and the extent to which people from all over pitched in to help.

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May 6,2009

In a conversation Victoria brought up to Ann how busy she was getting ready for the fishing season, and they were in need of  a good crew member for summer.  After hearing how mostly nonexistent the commercial fishing on the Yukon would be this year,  Segundo and Ann decided to take the offer and leave Nunam Iqua to spend the fishing season in Ugashik.

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May 9,2009

‘Tsunami’ Of Ice Wreaks Havoc On Alaskan Town

Breakup brought it’s own challenges on the Yukon, especially in Eagle Village which was flattened by an ice flood. FEMA stepped up to the plate this time and a plan for sensibly rebuilding the town using kit homes with the help of volunteers from the US, Canada and beyond was completed before winter set in. Bloggers worldwide contributed by donating money and supplies.

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May 18-27,2009

Watching and Waiting for Breakup on the Yukon

As breakup continued down the Yukon, communities along the way kept close watch on the flood warnings.

Bloggers waited anxiously for news from Ann in Nunam Iqua at the rivers mouth. She sent updates on May 18, May 19, May 22, May 23, May 26 and on May 27 when she reported that planes were able to land in Nunam Iqua and that her family would be leaving for Ugashik the next morning.

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May 28, 2009

The Stronghearts arrived in Ugashik.  Things are different there,  including cooking in Vic’s modern kitchen and bathing in the land of running water!

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June 28, 2009

Palin tweets that Emmonak residents are meeting subsistence needs

by Channel 2 News Staff

Sunday, June 28, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — According to Gov. Sarah Palin’s posts on Twitter, half of the people in Emmonak have met subsistence needs and the other half believe they can do the same. Palin says her rural advisor, John Moller, recently returned from Emmonak and those were his findings.

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June 30, 2009

Emmonak villager demands apology from Palin camp

Posted by thevillage

Posted: June 30, 2009

What was that good news? I asked Palin’s spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, today in an e-mail.

“The good news – At the Federal Subsistence meeting in Emmonak last week, Nick Tucker reported that 50 percent of the residents have met subsistence needs and other 50 percent are confident they will meet their needs,” Leighow replied.

(Tucker drew statewide and national attention this winter when he wrote a letter describing a food and fuel crisis on the lower Yukon.)

Here’s where it gets complicated. Tucker says he never said that and is demanding a public apology from the governor’s camp.

“I want them to take it back,” Tucker said in a short phone interview today.

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July 3, 2009

John Moller: I talked to many, many people over those two days

The Alaska Daily News rural blog, The Village, interviewed John Moller, Sarah Palin’s rural advisor, on Wednesday. They we’re specifically interested in the display of civil disobedience in Marshall but, since Moller was just back in the office after being out of cell phone range while fishing, he couldn’t address that so they talked about other rural issues including the Governor’s tweet about Emmonak.

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Governor Palin Resigns – Ann Asks What That Will Mean for Rural Alaska

After all the time we Alaskan Natives have been dealing with both the Palin administration’s actions and inactions toward the plight of our rural people, we now find ourselves asking a lot of questions. When I look at where we’ve come from and what I want for my people in the future, I find myself contemplating right now: What does this new leadership mean to bush Alaskans? Fisheries? Subsistence? etc etc

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July 11, 2009

Vic Took a Time Out to Give Us a Glimpse of Summer in Ugashik

So much of this time of year in Alaska, at least the western parts that fish, is rush, rush, rush!! You do any projects that need decent weather, earn most of your yearly income in a few short weeks and, if you can, get the relatives up to visit when it isn’t below freezing.

In the past few weeks I felt you needed to see part of what we try to sandwich in all this work, work and more work.

Time to view all the flowers, well some call them weeds, that spring up and give us color.

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August 2, 2009

AnnS Aired Rural Woes Internationally

Monday, August 3, 2009 – Salmon Ban on the Yukon River: (listen)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has banned commercial fishing for king salmon along the Yukon River and is limiting subsistence fishing. The ban is in response to the state not meeting their treaty agreement with Canada for the past two years to deliver 45,000 kings via the Yukon. But groups of Native fishermen are ignoring the ban – facing possible jail time, heavy fines and equipment seizure. How will village residents make it through another tough winter if they’re not allowed to fish this summer? Guest is AnnS from the village of Nunam Iqua.

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August 5, 2009

Ann Writes an Open Letter to Rural Advisor John Moller

…During the program, moderator Harlan McKosato mentioned that he put in a call to you before the show but never got a call back.

Because rural Alaskans are openly voicing their serious fears about the coming winter, we were disappointed that you were not involved in the conversation with Ann and Nick on the air. Rural Alaskans need to know advisors have the ear of Governor Parnell and need to believe that the governor realizes today that things may be even worse this winter for rural Alaskan villages than the previous one….

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August 7, 2009

Alaska’s Governor Parnell Urges Disaster Relief for Yukon Fishery!

In a letter today, Governor Sean Parnell asked Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to declare a fishery disaster in the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery.

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August 10, 2009

Legislature overrides Palin’s stimulus veto By SEAN COCKERHAM

scockerham@adn.com

Published: August 10th, 2009 02:31 PM

Last Modified: August 11th, 2009 06:25 PM

The Alaska Legislature voted Monday to override former Gov. Sarah Palin’s veto of $28 million in federal stimulus money for energy cost relief. But it was as close as a vote can get.

(snip) Palin vetoed the appropriation of $28 million in federal energy stimulus cash in May, two months before she resigned as governor.

She kept up her fight against the money by posting a message on her Facebook page Sunday.

“As governor, I did my utmost to warn our legislators that accepting stimulus funds will further tie Alaska to the federal government and chip away at Alaska’s right to chart its own course.

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August 11, 2009

Excerpt from a letter to a Tribal Administrator from Nick Tucker:

“…I want you, your children and grandchildren to get education. We’ve always been strong, intelligent, and wise, particularly our culture precious with values and teachings. Take that for our next generations. But, keep your heads up, your whole generation. We will have been a forced to be reckoned with, because I think, many of us are beginning to turn to God, and we might just rule with justice, goodness, fairness, and generosity again, but educated…”

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August 12, 2009

Obama’s Rural Tour Visits Bush Alaska

By KYLE HOPKINS

khopkins@adn.com

Published: August 12th, 2009 10:42 PM

Last Modified: August 13th, 2009 06:20 PM

BETHEL — Four of President Obama’s cabinet members whirled through a pair of remote Alaska communities Wednesday to hear an earful about the state’s novel needs and the borderline third-world conditions in some villages.

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August 14, 2009

Ann Writes an Open Letter to Governor Parnell, John Moller and others

…Although with another non existent salmon fishing season on the Yukon and winter fast approaching I am worried that this winter will in fact be worse than last winter. I was happy to see that Governor Parnell made a disaster declaration for the Salmon Fisheries on the Yukon, although I fear that this will not be enough

We at Anonymous Bloggers have been trying, in vain, to find out if the rural villages have enough fuel for the winter. We have contacted, with little to no response, the Rural Advisory Panel and the Rural Subcabinet and Rural Advisor Moller and the Attorney General.

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August 16, 2009

First Nations Call for Zero Bycatch

More than 65 first nations in Alaska and the Yukon are asking the United States’ Secretary of Commerce to ban the pollock industry’s bycatch of chinook river salmon.

At its annual meeting held recently at Lake Laberge, the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) voted in favour of a resolution urging Gary Locke, the U.S. commerce secretary, to invoke his emergency regulatory authority and order the pollock industry to reduce its annual bycatch to zero.

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August 18, 2009

We were all saddened by the unexpected death of Segundo Strongheart on Tuesday, August 18. He suffered a massive heart attack in the early morning hours and despite immediate attempts to resuscitate him including use a defibrillator under the guidance of medical professionals by telephone, he passed away at 6:00 A.M.

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September 4, 2009

Another Open Letter From Ann to Governor Parnell, John Moller and Others

…Not only is the lack of both subsistence and commercial fishing, greatly diminishing our ability to put away fish for the winter but also the lack of funds brought in from commercial fishing is now making it hard, if not impossible, for rural Alaskans to put away other subsistence game.

Moose season is now. The birds are flying now. Now is the time to be out hunting for seals and whales. All of these types of game are critical for us to survive this winter. If we cannot purchase gas to go out and hunt then I fear this winter we will have a crisis of much greater proportions than last winter. Last winter we were able to depend a little bit on other game that we had put up for the winter since we were lacking fish.

It looks like this winter that option will not be available to many rural Alaskans because they simply cannot afford the gas and other necessities required to go out hunting…

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October 23, 2009

Pres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes

By KYLE HOPKINS

khopklins@adn.com

Published: October 23rd, 2009 11:03 AM

Last Modified: October 24th, 2009 04:19 PM

The Obama administration is launching a rapid, sweeping review of the way the federal government manages subsistence hunting and fishing in Alaska, Interior Department officials said Friday.

“The system, frankly, today is broken,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in a video shown at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention in downtown Anchorage.

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November 5, 2009

President Obama delivers remarks at White House, Tribal Nations conference

Pres. Obama delivered the opening remarks at a White House Tribal Nations Conference and participated in a discussion with leaders from the 564 federally recognized tribes. The conference is addressing issues facing American Indian tribes such as economic development, housing and education. This is the first such meeting since 1994. Washington, DC.

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November 26, 2009

Fall Sea Ice Flood in Nunam Iqua Leave Residents Struggling

Ice piled up during the Fall Flood at Nunam Iqua 11/11/09

The flooding wreaked havoc on the Yukon River ice. The flooding brought in massive amounts of sea ice from the Bering Sea that unfortunately is still clogging the Yukon. Several people lost their fishing nets they had set under the ice and a couple of families even lost their boats during the flood.

With all of this sea ice still in the Yukon River at Nunam Iqua it has caused a hardship on the residents. Normally during the winter families will go out onto the river and place fishing nets under the ice to catch fresh fish. But due to the mess of sea ice currently in the Yukon this has become very difficult if not impossible to do now. Fresh fish caught under the ice with nets is a large staple for families during the winter.

Since Ann is spending this winter in Ugashik,  she is gathering information for promoting an adopt-a-family program in Nunam Iqua to match donors and families directly.

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December 3, 2009

Bright Outlook for Winter in Ugashik

There is some better news this year coming from Pilot Point and Ugashik when it comes to our ability to deal with our winter conditions.

Our fishing season was much better this year than last on our main season of Sockeye salmon, although the Chinook/King returns continue to be dismal.

This allowed for most everyone to either work in the industry if they wanted/needed to and also to get fish put up for the winter…

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December 14, 2009

Rollie Briggs’ Energy Ideas for Rural Alaska

Roland Briggs watches new technology, guess it might be the Mechanical Engineering part of his background which keeps him “tuned in”, and he wants to share some of what he sees as exciting. As things cross his path and they look like they might have use in Alaska you will see him post on his new page in our Energy Section.

January 7, 2010

Alaska Federation of Natives calls for Native and rural subsistence priority on all Alaska lands

By Alex Demarban

The Arctic Sounder

The Alaska Federation of Natives lays out an ambitious agenda that seeks to expand hunting and fishing rights for Alaska Natives as part of the first-ever review of the federal subsistence program in Alaska.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar offering ways to improve the program, the statewide Native organization draws on historical arguments and legal precedent to make the case that all Natives, as well as rural residents, deserve priority over other hunters and fishermen.

Salazar announced the review in October.

The Jan. 7 letter, signed by AFN President Julie Kitka, also asks that the rural subsistence priority be applied to all land and waters in Alaska as Congress originally intended.

Read the story

January 15, 2010

FEDS DECLARE YUKON FISHERIES DISASTER

January 15, 2010 by alaskapi

From Governor Parnell’s news release:

State of Alaska > Governor > News > News Details Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook Printer Friendly FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 10-010

Secretary Locke Declares Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook January 15, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska –

Governor Sean Parnell today welcomed a decision by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke finding that a disaster has occurred with the 2009 Yukon River chinook salmon run, opening the door for federal aid to the area. “I appreciate Secretary Locke’s recognition of the severity of the situation along the Yukon River and the dependence of Alaskans on these salmon runs,” Governor Parnell said. The federal disaster declaration is in response to requests made by Governor Parnell, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Alaska Federation of Natives. The request detailed the biological and economic situation on the Yukon River and the impacts of the reduced chinook runs. The declaration does not bring immediate aid to the affected area. The congressional delegation must still secure a federal appropriation. Federal aid, once secured, could be used for relief programs, stock research, training programs, fisheries infrastructure, or other regional projects.

Here's a copy of the actual letter from Sec. Locke to Gov. Parnell

YES WE CAN!!!!

Victoria Briggs: More and More Grizzlies!

July 20, 2009

cubs

Grizzly cubs

Jul 20, 2009

This year, actually the last two years, we seem to have an increased population of brown bears, grizzlies to others, in and around the village. Given that the Alaska Peninsula is an area just behind Kodiak for trophy bears ‘taken’ this does not surprise any of us.

This is one reason given by the state for not doing some predator control to help save our dwindling moose and hardly surviving caribou herds. Residents are NOT happy, but little can be done right now about it.

Daylight sightings have increased tremendously this year, even over last year’s higher incidents.

Yesterday our processing crew let us know they had spotted a pair of cubs on the beach heading toward the plant.

Gundo came up to the house to get a gun just in case they got into too much trouble or their mom showed up.

We see tracks on the beach by the processing plant on a regular basis but to have them wandering around the house getting into things is a little unusual.

These two guys decided they did not want to continue to come toward the sounds and smells of people and headed off.

I am hoping these little guys did not loose their mother cause if they did it is a slow starvation or being killed by bigger bears as an end to them.

The crew is doing lots of whistling and peeking around corners when heading out of their quarters at night after having a pile of poo left at their door step.

bears2

Fun times in the bush!!

~ Victoria

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