Mixed-ancestry wolves are recolonizing the Pacific Northwest

Their combination of coastal and inland DNA could help them survive a changing climate.

This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems.

https://www.hcn.org/articles/wolves-mixed-ancestry-wolves-are-recolonizing-the-pacific-northwest

Wolves were wiped out in Washington state in the early 20th century — the victims of bounty hunting as ranching and farming expanded in the state. Over the past two decades, however, under the protection of state and federal wildlife authorities, wolves have been reclaiming their former turf. But as new research shows, the wolves now living and hunting in Washington’s forests are different from those that lived there more than a century ago. These new wolves are hybrids — crossbreeds of inland wolves from the interior United States and a unique, beach-loving subspecies from as far north as Southeast Alaska.

The ancestors of the wolves now recolonizing the Pacific Northwest include a coastal subspecies.
Chris Darimont / raincoast.org

The researchers who made this discovery think the hybrid wolves’ DNA could help them thrive in a changing landscape.

Conventional wisdom holds that the wolf packs slowly recolonizing not only Washington but Oregon and California are the descendants of animals that migrated west from the interior — from the mountains, plains, and forests of Montana and Idaho. But when researchers analyzed DNA samples from wolves throughout the Pacific Northwest, the results told a different story. Sarah Hendricks — now a computational biology doctoral candidate at the University of Idaho — was a research assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles when she and her colleagues amassed genetic samples from the region’s wolves. A recent analysis shows that some of the wolves have unique genetic markers that could have only come from the distinct coastal wolves of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.

Coastal wolves differ from their interior cousins in a number of important ways. Unlike interior wolves, which stalk large mammals such as elk through forests and fields, coastal wolves spend much of their time on beaches, hunting salmon and marine mammals such as seals. Coastal wolves also look different — they’re smaller and their fur has a red-brown tinge.

So far, the hybrid wolves are sticking to the lifestyle of their ancestors from the east. “As of right now, the wolf packs are mostly in the habitat that’s suitable for interior wolves, but we think over time they’ll begin to establish in habitat that’s more suitable for coastal wolves,” says Hendricks. As the climate continues to change, Hendricks suspects the hybrid wolves’ genetic diversity will allow them to adapt better than if they just had genes from interior wolves.

Even without the benefits of genetic mixing, wolves are generally quite adaptable animals, says Jay Shepherd, who leads the wolf program for the nonprofit organization Conservation Northwest. In Yellowstone Park, for instance, wolves hunt bison. These wolves are much larger than those in surrounding regions, but their size is the consequence of a diet driven by learned behavior rather than genetics. Still, he agrees that hybrids could have an advantage in areas with a mix of habitats.

The coastal wolves of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska are a distinctive subpopulation with red-brown fur and a hunting style adapted to coastal life.
Chris Darimont / raincoast.org

The finding also offers a life preserver of a sort to the coastal wolves of British Columbia and Alaska, whose populations are dwindling in many parts of their range. For example, Hendricks points to a population in Southeast Alaska that is declining quite drastically. The hybrids may serve as a genetic reservoir, protecting some of the coastal wolves’ distinctive traits.

But while the hybrid wolf population may act as a reservoir, there could be complications if the Alaskan coastal wolves became protected under the United States Endangered Species Act. In that case, wildlife managers in the Pacific Northwest would find themselves charged with managing wolves that share genetic traits with federally protected animals. “The problem is that the Endangered Species Act doesn’t have a lot of language regarding how to deal with hybridization,” says Hendricks.

Hendricks hopes her findings will inspire biologists and policymakers to focus on sorting out the unanswered legal question of what should be done when the ancestor of a hybrid animal is an endangered species, whether these mixed-lineage descendants should be protected as well or left vulnerable to hunting and habitat loss. Either way, she thinks the hybrid wolves’ mixed heritage will be an asset as they continue to reclaim their species’ old haunts across the Pacific Northwest.

Alaskans say ‘no’ to cruel hunting methods for killing hibernating bears, wolf pups in dens

June 29, 2018

A rule recently proposed by the Trump administration would roll back an Obama-era regulation that prohibits controversial and scientifically unjustified methods of hunting on Alaska’s national preserves, which are federal public lands. These egregious hunting methods include the use of artificial light to attract hibernating bears and their cubs out of their dens to kill them, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, using bait to attract brown and black bears, shooting vulnerable swimming caribou, including with the aid of motorboats, and using dogs to hunt black bears. Biologists have already condemned these methods, and now a supermajority of Alaska’s residents have spoken out resoundingly against allowing them in their state.

The telephone poll, conducted by Remington Research Group and released by the Humane Society of the United States, found a whopping 71 percent of Alaskan voters oppose allowing hunters to use artificial light to attract hibernating bears and their cubs out of their dens to kill them. Sixty-nine percent oppose hunting black bears with packs of hounds, and 75 percent oppose hunting swimming caribou with the aid of motorboats. Sixty percent of Alaskan voters oppose the baiting of bears with pet food, grease, rotting game or fish or other high-calorie foods, and 57 percent oppose killing whole packs of wolves and coyotes when they are raising their pups in their dens.

The poll also found that a majority of voters disfavor allowing trophy hunters and trappers killing wolves, brown bears, black bears, wolverines, lynx and other wildlife on state lands along the northeast boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve.

In complete disregard for the wishes of the state’s residents, however, the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service is now accepting public comments on the controversial rule that’s designed to benefit a handful of trophy hunters looking for their next big kill.

This indiscriminate killing of native carnivores such as grizzly bears and wolves is often justified as “protecting” ungulates, animals like caribou and moose. But in Alaska and elsewhere, studies show, such predator control, including trophy hunting or culling of wild native carnivores in order to grow game herds, just doesn’t work. In fact, that is precisely the finding of a comprehensive new study that was reported in Scientific American.

On the other hand, live native carnivores like grizzly bears and wolves contribute immensely to the state’s economy. In Alaska, wildlife-watching tourism brings $2 billion every year to local, rural economies.

Several studies in Alaska show that predator control is doomed to fail, because the unforgiving Arctic lands cannot sustain large numbers of prey herds in the short growing seasons followed by extreme winters. Alaska officials have also failed to acknowledge that with the massive killing of wolves or bears, other smaller predators rise up to compete for those same prey, rendering these cruel and harmful predator control practices utterly futile.

Most Alaskans do not want hunters, backed by the deep pockets of trophy-hunting groups like Safari Club International and Alaska Outdoor Council, treating their state as a shopping mall for bearskin rugs and wolf heads to adorn their walls. American wildlife is for all of us to enjoy, and you can do your part to help save it by submitting a commentopposing this new proposed rule by July 23.

Three Hunting Guides Arraigned in Nome

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Eric Gorski.

HUNTING GUIDE BRIAN LEE SIMPSON, 56, was arraigned in the Nome courthouse on Monday. Simpson was charged with five misdemeanor violations of Alaska hunting laws, including illegal guiding on private land.

Last Friday, two of Simpson’s employees were also arraigned. Tyler Weyiouanna, 25,  was charged with aiding in the violation of hunting regulations and using a motor vehicle to harass game. Matthew Iyatunguk, 23, was charged with one count of harassing game.

The charges were initially filed in Alaska District Court on August 17th. Simpson has hired his own attorney, while Weyiouanna and Iyatunguk will be represented by public defenders appointed by the court. All three men are set to appear at the courthouse in Nome on November 9th.

Image at top: Brown bear. Photo via Flickr / Creative Commons, courtesy of Eric Gorski.

Trump administration moves to lift restrictions on hunting, trapping in national preserves in Alaska

Under proposed changes hunters could bait brown bears, hunt black bears with dogs and kill wolves

The Associated Press · Posted: May 22, 2018 3:33 PM CT | Last Updated: May 22

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.2735917.1407976946!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_780/travel-trip-alaska-katmai-bears.jpg&gt;

A brown bear catches a salmon in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska in July 2013. Under proposed changes to sport hunting and trapping regulations for national preserves, hunters could bait brown bears with bacon and doughtnuts. (The Associated Press)

The Trump administration is moving to reverse Obama-era rules barring hunters on some public lands in Alaska from baiting brown bears with bacon and doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens.

The National Park Service issued a notice Monday of its intent to amend regulations for sport hunting and trapping in national preserves to bring the federal rules in line with Alaska state law.

Under the proposed changes, hunters would also be allowed to hunt black bears with dogs, kill wolves and pups in their dens, and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou.

Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves.- Collette Adkins, lawyer and biologist

These and other hunting methods — condemned as cruel by wildlife protection advocates — were outlawed on federal lands in 2015. Members of the public have 60 days to provide comment on the proposed new rules.

“The conservation of wildlife and habitat for future generations is a goal we share with Alaska,” said Bert Frost, the park service’s regional director. “This proposed rule will reconsider NPS efforts in Alaska for improved alignment of hunting regulations on national preserves with State of Alaska regulations, and to enhance consistency with harvest regulations on surrounding non-federal lands and waters.”

Alaska has 10 national preserves covering nearly 95,830 square kilometers.

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4673578.1527022003!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/alaska-black-bears.jpg&gt;

A black bear and cub seen in Anchorage, Alaska. The Trump administration plans to reverse a ban on using spotlights to shoot mother black bears and cubs hibernating in their dens on some public lands in the state. (The Associated Press)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was “pleased to see the National Park Service working to better align federal regulations with State of Alaska hunting and trapping regulations,” Maria Gladziszewski, the state agency’s deputy director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation, said in an email to the Associated Press.

She said the proposal is “progress in that direction, and we appreciate those efforts. Alaskans benefit when state and federal regulations are consistent.”

Gladziszewski said the state doesn’t conduct predator control in national preserves.

“Predator control could be allowed in preserves only with federal authorization because such actions are subject to NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review,” she said.

Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a priority for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Montana congressman who displays a taxidermied bear in his Washington office along with mounted heads from a bison and an elk.

<https://i.cbc.ca/1.4673491.1527019877!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/u-s-senate-ryan-zinke.jpg&gt;

Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a priority for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

The Obama-era restrictions on hunting on federal lands in Alaska were challenged by Safari Club International, a group that promotes big-game hunting. The Associated Press reported in March that Zinke had appointed a board loaded with trophy hunters to advise him on conserving threatened and endangered wildlife, including members of the Safari Club.

President Donald Trump’s sons are also avid trophy hunters who have made past excursions to Africa and Alaska.

Collette Adkins, a lawyer and biologist with the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity, expressed outrage at the rollback.

“Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves,” she said.

The Humane Society of the United States said it would oppose the new rules.

“These federal lands are havens for wildlife and the National Park Service is mandated to manage these ecosystems in a manner that promotes conservation,” said Anna Frostic, a lawyer for the animal rights group. “This proposed rule, which would allow inhumane killing of our native carnivores in a misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities, is unlawful and must not be finalized.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/trump-restrictions-hunting-trapping-alaska-preserves-1.4673467

Jimmy Kimmel scoop: Donald Trump “hates baby bears”

Jimmy Kimmel scoop: Donald Trump “hates baby bears”

https://www.fastcompany.com/40577274/jimmy-kimmel-scoop-donald-trump-hates-baby-bears

While we know that Donald Trump hates sharks, at least according to Stormy Daniels. Turns out the president also hates baby bears, at least according to Jimmy Kimmel.

Kimmel’s realization came in the wake of news that the Interior Department is ending a ban on hunting hibernating bears and their cubs in their dens. The National Park Service, under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, apparently has a problem with some of the current protections for black bears, “including cubs and sows with cubs,” that prevent hunters from “harvest practices” that include using bait to lure bears out, using lights to find hibernating animals, and using dogs to kill bear cubs.

The National Park Service now wants to roll back those pesky rules that stop people from killing baby bears for fun, according to a proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. Under the proposed changes, hunters will now be able to hunt black bears with dogs, use motorboats to shoot swimming caribou, and kill wolves and pups in their dens. According to Kimmel, it’s all part of Trump’s plan to make America great again—and get rid of those evil baby bears.

Assault Rifle Slaughter of Denali Wolves

Share on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter

 

Washington, DC, April 3, 2018 — The State of Alaska is scrambling to shut down hunting and trapping adjacent to Denali National Park over concerns that excessive kills may destabilize this iconic wolf population. Photos posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) show a man armed with an AR15 semiautomatic rifle displaying ten wolf carcasses outside Denali.

In an emergency order issued on March 30, 2018 and revised yesterday, Alaska Department of Fish & Game (DFG) cut short the hunting and trapping season on state land along the Stampede Trail, including land adjacent to the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve. The stated reason for the order is that –

“The wolf harvest this season in the area described is more than the past 5-year average and there is the potential for more harvest to occur before the end of the regulatory hunting and trapping seasons.”

While DFG claims in its order that “There are no conservation concerns for wolves” in the Denali region, the agency admits that it has no idea how many wolves have been killed this year. Moreover, the state has not acknowledged reports that a hunter on a snow machine armed with a semiautomatic rifle recently killed ten wolves outside Denali.

“While I am glad that Governor Walker has acted I am concerned that it may be too little, too late,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and PEER board member, who has led the charge for permanent buffer zones around Denali. “The historic high level of take has already altered wolf ecological dynamics, not counting these reports of additional kills just now coming in.”

Studies show hunting and trapping outside Denali is having a big impact on the viability of wolf packs inside Denali, which is Alaska’s top tourist attraction, drawing more than a half-million visitors annually. Not only are Denali wolf family groups disrupted, but visitor-viewing success has plummeted as well.

Similarly, at Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, hunting has so decimated wolf packs that the National Park Service had to end a more than 20-year research program on predator-prey relationships. Its scientists found that the wolf population in the 2.5 million acre national preserve is “no longer in a natural state” nor are there enough survivors to maintain a “self-sustaining population.”

Significantly, Alaska has agreed to participate in an independent National Academy of Sciences review of its predator control programs for the first time in 20 years since the administration of Governor Tony Knowles (1994-2002), the only governor in Alaska history to prohibit lethal predator control programs.

“Alaska’s predator control program is clearly out of control,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Alaska should put predator control on hold until it gets a handle on what is actually occurring.”

In response to the recent excessive losses at Denali, Alaska citizens are renewing their call for the Governor to establish a permanent no-kill buffer protecting all park predator species – wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines – along the boundary of Denali, to restore the natural ecosystem and visitor viewing success in the park.

Read the state emergency hunting and trapping closure order

Look at hunting adverse impacts on Denali wolf packs

See decimation of Yukon-Charley wolf packs

View Trump repeal of hunting restrictions inside Alaskan national parks and refuges

Look at growing doubts about Alaska’s predator control program

As crossbows get more popular, Alaska requires specialized training for hunters

http://www.newsminer.com/features/outdoors/as-crossbows-get-more-popular-alaska-requires-specialized-training-for/article_bf03ed98-3966-11e8-b6de-8365aa43c18c.html

  • Sam Friedman sfriedman@newsminer.com
  •  (0)

As used by hunters, a crossbow is somewhere between a gun and a bow. It has a learning curve more like a gun and a range more like archery equipment. Crossbows are still relatively novel weapons. More than moose hunts, they may bring to mind images of medieval re-enactors or Chewbacca from the “Star Wars” movies.

But they’ve become common enough that Alaska’s Board of Game has asked the state to develop a training class for them. Starting July 1, crossbow hunters will be required to take a class and pass a field shooting exercise to hunt big game animals anywhere in the state.

To learn more about crossbows, I asked crossbow hunter and occasional Daily News-Miner contributor Jeff Bushke to show me the basics. Bushke has been crossbow hunting for more than a decade and set up a practice range against a snow berm in his front yard.

Bushke got interested in crossbows when he was working at the Fairbanks Sportsman’s Warehouse store soon after it opened.

“That opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he said. “When you work at a sporting goods store, you’ve got to play.”

His crossbow, a TenPoint brand Pro Fusion model, is 10 years old and shoots at 300 feet per second.

“It’s not that fast by today’s standards,” he said. “But it’s killed four moose and four bears and has punched a lot of holes in targets.”

Alaska doesn’t allow crossbows in special “archery only” hunts except for hunters who have medical exemptions. Bushke has an exemption for a shoulder injury, so he can take his crossbow on archery hunts. But he sometimes takes it on general hunts where he could use a rifle. In particular, he likes taking the crossbow to his bear bait station.

“It’s a great tool for killing bears,” he said. “If you shoot a bear with it they think they’ve got stung by a bee. They don’t think they’re dead.”

Many crossbows have mechanical aids to help cock them. Bushke’s uses a detachable crank on the stock that turns easily to slowly bring the string back toward the trigger mechanism. After pulling back the string, Bushke loaded the crossbow with a bolt, the term for the short arrows used for crossbows.

Unlike a bow, you don’t have to hold the tension in a crossbow while waiting to fire. After it’s been cocked, the crossbow is ready to fire and just needs a trigger pull to release.

Bushke gave me the most important piece of advice when I got ready to fire: Be careful with hand placement on the crossbow foregrip. Grab it too high, and you’ve put your fingers into the path of the string.

“It’s a mistake you would only make once,” he told me.

Firing the crossbow otherwise feels much like shooting a rifle. I can see why it would be easier to learn to shoot accurately with a crossbow than an actual bow. My first shots all went high and to the right, but a fourth shot landed close to the middle of the target.

It’s easy to be fooled by the weapon’s accuracy at close range and assume it can kill a distant moose. Ginamaria Smith, who coordinates Alaska’s hunter education program, said this is the biggest misconception she’s run into with crossbows. That’s a problem, because people who attempt distance shots with crossbows are likely to wound animals instead of killing them. 

The North American Crossbow Association trade group warns that popular videos of long range crossbow shots have fueled misconceptions about a crossbow’s true range.

“The effective and ethical range for a crossbow is at 50 yards or less,” the group states on its website. “While it is neat to see the 100-yard trick shots, they should never be attempted during any live hunting situation.”

So far about 70 people in Alaska have signed up for crossbow education. The first field tests — on April 15 in Anchorage and on May 16 in Fairbanks — are filling up fast, Smith said.

In the field test, hunters will shoot twice at four 3-D targets at distances they’re likely to encounter in the field. They’ll need to make a kill shot on each target and a double kill on one target.

Denali Wolf Update: A little good news, more bad news

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game approved an Emergency Order closing the wolf hunting/trapping season adjacent to Denali National Park. However, the proposed Denali Buffer legislation is stalled in the Legislature, and controversy sparked over a hunter’s braggadocio photos of dead wolves east of the Park.

First, a little good news: ADF&G issued an Emergency Order immediately closing the Stampede Trail corridor (state land along the northeast boundary of the Park, home to the most easily viewed wolves along the Park Road) to hunting and trapping wolves.

A formal request for the Order was submitted March 24 based on information from Park biologists that five radio-collared Park wolves already had been killed by hunting/trapping this winter. Because only about one in four wolves are collared, there was concern that the total harvest would be much higher – and unfortunately it is. According to the ADF&G, eight wolves were killed so far this winter in the Stampede area, twice the average annual number. That total will increase again when the final state harvest report and spring Park wolf survey are complete.

According to the Order, hunting in the area was closed effective April 2, and the trapping season will end April 9. The seasons were scheduled to end April 15 and April 30, respectively. Trappers have 30 days after the season to report their harvest, so the final tally of wolves killed won’t be known until mid-May.

One of the wolves (apparently) trapped was the alpha male of the Riley Creek pack, which claims territory along the Park Road west of the entrance. Sightings of members of the Riley Creek pack increased the likelihood of visitors seeing wolves from about 5 percent in prior years to 17 percent last summer. Loss of the alpha male is critical to the future of the pack: the remaining wolves may fail to produce pups this spring, or disburse altogether. In recent years the loss of key breeding wolves resulted in the demise of the Grant Creek and Toklat packs; both had territories adjacent to the Riley Creek wolves.

AWA and other groups solicited comments to ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten in support of the emergency closure request. Our concerns were heard in the administration, although in practice the closure shaves only a very minimal amount of time off of the full hunting/trapping seasons.

Bad news: Just a day before the emergency closure request was submitted, the Alaska Senate Resources Committee “set aside” House Bill 105, which would establish a no wolf hunting/trapping buffer on state lands adjacent to Denali’s northeastern boundary. That action stalls – and more than likely kills – the legislation.

Again, AWA and others solicited public comments in favor of HB105 for the Committee hearing. Many were received – so many that Committee Chair Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) actively solicited comments from the opposition. In a public online trapping forum, Sen. Giessel wrote to Fairbanks trapper Al Barrette:

“…If there are others who oppose the bill, please have them send emails, Al.

I have literally hundreds of support emails…and your one opposition email.”

Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) sponsored the bill and worked tirelessly to get it passed by the full House last May, which was a rare win for pro-wildlife legislation. He predicted it was a long shot to move ahead in the more conservative-minded Senate, and that proved true at its first committee hurdle. Nevertheless we owe Andy a heartfelt “thank you” for his heroic work on this and other bills supporting wildlife and the environment.

Bad news, illustrated. The Denali wolf controversy flared on social media last weekend when graphic photos circulated of a hunter proudly posing with an AK-15 semiautomatic rifle, snowmachine and 10 dead wolves. The two photos can be viewed on our website at:http://akwildlife.org/february-2018-wolf-kill-photos/

(Warning: they are graphic and disturbing.)

The initial anonymous email accompanying the photos implied they were Denali wolves killed in the nearby Healy area. When queried, ADF&G and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers issued a press release asserting that the wolves were not killed in the Stampede corridor/Denali area, but were harvested legally about 70 miles east of Denali in February. (Therefore it is unknown if the wolves denned in or could have been seen in the Park.)

However, without a buffer to protect wolves from hunting/trapping, such killing is legal – and certainly does occur – adjacent to the Park boundary.

Furthermore, such egregious killing is all too common statewide under the guise of Alaska’s ongoing Intensive Management (predator control) programs utilizing extended harvest seasons and liberal (or non-existent) harvest limits across multiple species, including bears and coyotes. This “slaughter”, not to be confused with reasonably regulated “hunting” using the principles of fair-chase, is commonplace across Alaska. It’s just not often the public is able to see the perpetrators’ brazen bragging.

If you have not already done so, please sign the online petition, started by Among Wolvesco-author Marybeth Holleman in 2015, asking the federal and state governments to agree to create a no-wolf-kill buffer adjacent to Denali. To date 360,000+ people have signed on.  https://www.thepetitionsite.com/423/700/229/halt-the-killing-of-denali-national-park-wolves/ 

Finally, again, thank you for supporting the Denali wolves and AWA. We are sorry we don’t have better news to report, but accomplishing anything “pro-wildlife” in this state where most politicians are openly “pro hunter/trapper” is an uphill struggle. However, there are still other avenues to pursue, and we will always keep up the fight for these wolves and all of Alaska’s wildlife.

Moose hunter dead from accidental shooting north of Manokotak

  SEP 9, 2017

Brian L. Heinrichsen, 65, killed after accidentally shooting himself with .454 caliber Casull pistol at the start of a moose hunt north of Amanka Lake.  AST says Heinrichsen lives in Puyallup, Washington.

KDLG: A fly-out moose hunting trip ended in tragedy Friday when Brian Leslie Heinrichsen, 65, accidentally shot himself in the chest while pulling a large caliber pistol from a shoulder holster, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Heinrichsen and his hunting partner had arrived at a small, remote lake approximately eight miles north of Amanka Lake that day, and may have still been unpacking their gear, said AST Sgt. Luis Nieves. The victim has hunted in the area before, and he and his hunting partner were lifelong buddies, he said.

The partner, not named by authorities, used a satellite phone to call for help, but the victim was the one who had more experience and apparently also the numbers to call, including for their air taxi Tikchik Airventures. The man called the only number he could find, which was for concierge service on the back of an Alaska Airlines credit card. According to AST, an Alaska Airlines service operator was able to contact the Dillingham dispatcher and Tikchik Airventures to report the incident.

Rick Grant from Tikchik Airventures quickly took state troopers to the scene. According to the investigation, Heinrichsen was likely pulling a .454 Casull pistol from a shoulder holster when he accidentally fired a round into the left side of his chest. The gunshot ended his life within moments, said AST. The .454 Casull is larger and more powerful than the .44 Magnum, and is carried by some hunters for self-defense against bears.

His body was recovered from the scene and flown back to Dillingham, where it was transported to Anchorage for an autopsy.

AST said Heinrichsen listed Hoonah as his address, but contacted his next of kin in Puyallup, Washington, where they believe he now resides.

Stop the Noise

http://www.bvconservation.org/

Stephen Capra

We are living through one of the most difficult periods in conservation history, in a country led by a madman, supported by people that see life through authoritarian rule. The rhetoric and constant stream of nausea created by this leader and his Republican accomplices and excusers isdesigned to keep one off balance, fatigued and scared.

Ignorance and fear are driving a wedge across our nation and people seem more willing than ever to throw away the environment in pursuit of living wages. This has been the turning point for the conservative movement and the crystallization of their efforts to destroy unions, social safety nets and common sense regulation of industry. We are developing a nation of workers, who will work anyway, on any terms, to survive. Nothing has had more direct impact on conservation and protection of species than the destruction of the middle-class that began in earnest during the Reagan years.

We need a society once again that is based in justice and fairness, we need corporations that are forced by rule of law to pay real wages and benefits to all that work for them and we must understand that a stock market built on mergers and acquisitions and returns to shareholders is not good for the environment, because it is killing our middle-class.

Last week I ran into our junior Senator Martin Heinrich, Martin has always been and remains a strong supporter of the environmental causes such as wilderness and monument protections and has been a friend for more than 18 years. When I ran into him I made a proposal, which he said he would give real thought to.

I told him that under the Obama Administration, Republicans continued to introduce legislation no matter if it could pass because they believed in putting down markers and growing their base with legislation that they supported.

In that vein, I suggested that he introduce a package of legislation that was designed to enhance our middle-class and to support a real vision for environmental protection. No half steps, a real vision, something to inspire those who believe in protections for environment and security and jobs for workers across the country, because we cannot continue to see them as separate causes.

The environmental community often brings in different voices when they need support for wilderness or other conservation measures, but the link now is vital and must be reciprocal.

We must support minimum wages and job training and we must demand a real social safety net that is expanded, not chopped. In the conservation realm, we must introduce legislation that is inspiring and designed to capture our nation’s imagination.

Here are a few suggestions, humbly put forth:

  • An end to offshore drilling in the Arctic, our East and West coasts.
  • The immediate protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • 50% increase in investment in alternative energy by 2020.
  • More tax cuts for electric cars and solar.
  • Funding that will completely end the backlog of maintenance for our National Parks in three years.
  • Expansion of our National Park System to include a major Tall Grass Prairie Park of no less than 500,000 acres and three new sites for National Park expansion, not just upgrading an area.
  • Legislation that demands the use of science in classroom textbooks nationwide.
  • Protections to remain and expanded for the threated Monuments on land and in the ocean and a directive to create 10 new Monuments by 2021.
  • Serious funding and legislation for Climate Change and a return to the Paris accords as a leader.
  • No dispersing of the Interior Department across the nation.
  • The directive and funding to increase wilderness in America by 35% by 2024.
  • The end of predator species killing and killing in their dens, period.
  • Expansion of wolf recovery to all Western states.
  • Increase in fees to ranchers for using public lands.
  • Monies for a new restoration and training program designed for rural and ranching communities to restore public lands, waters, andriparian areas. These monies would come from new taxes on the oil and gas industry.
  • 50 million in funding to purchase grazing rights across the West, with more to come by increasing grazing fees.
  • The immediate end to Wildlife Services, with that funding going directly to wildlife programs that support predator species.
  • The expansion and upgrading of the Endangered Species Act.
  • Direct reductions of oil and gas leases by 50 percent by 2020 on public lands.
  • Creating an increase of funding to the EPA by 45% by 2020.
  • Real legislation to control and regulate pesticides in America and increased funding for organic farming, including increased tax incentives.

To do this and to improve the plight of all Americans Congress must move to end the tax cut imposed by Republicans this past December and more taxes must be placed directly on the top 1%.

Increase spending for birth control her at home and internationally.

Stop all the giveaways to corporate America and force them to return monies to American shores.

More taxes must be placed directly on the fossil-fuel industry and that of Power companies that continue to use coal in their power generation.

We must put a direct tax on the use of plastics, plastic bags and the companies that create them, largely funded by the oil and gas industry.

The passage of a real HealthCare legislation (likely single payer), that will reduce the costs of healthcare for all Americans, while ensuring quality care for all. That will save money and create real equality.

Reducing the endless spending on the military, while investing in dialogue, diplomacy and respecting all nations. That common sense element will give us the money to protect our environment, here and abroad.

Finally, we must remove the control of Congress from complete Republican control.

More than anything we must understand the urgency of saving our environment and the strong need to end all the noise and distraction that is the toxic nature of this President and Congress.

We may not get it all, but my hope is that Senator Heinrich and the Democrats in Congress are prepared to be BOLD. It begins with a real vision and the strength to carry it forward.

If we do not act soon, it will simply be too late for this planet. We have no choice, we must be BOLD.