The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

News Briefs


FWS seeks comment on Pigeon Guillemot recovery

A draft environmental assessment up for public review entitled “Potential Recovery of Pigeon Guillemot Populations, Naked Island Group – Prince William Sound, Alaska” is up for public review according to a press release issued by the Alaska region’s office of Fish & Wildlife, or FWS.

The comment period will be for 30 days the press release said. It began July 19, and will end August 17.

Management of the Naked Island Group, located in Prince William Sound, is administered by the Forest Service. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also has an interest in this project to ensure its mandate for fish and game management is met according to FWS.

The pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba) is currently the only marine bird species remaining affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and is listed as "not recovering" on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council's Injured Resources List,” FWS said. “Since 1989, the pigeon guillemot population in Prince William Sound has declined 47 percent and there is no sign of population stabilization or recovery. Approximately 100 pigeon guillemots remain at the Naked Island Group. The primary limiting factor for pigeon guillemot reproductive success and population recovery at the Naked Island Group appears to be American mink.”

The draft Environmental Assessment can be downloaded at

Challenge planned to redistricting map attorneys say

(AP) An attorney says the plaintiffs who sued over the state's redistricting plan in 2011 will challenge the latest iteration drawn up by the Alaska Redistricting Board.

Jason Gazewood says the Fairbanks-area House district pairings used to create Senate districts are too dissimilar. He says there are problems, too, with splits in the Matanuska-Susitna region.

Michael Walleri, who also represents the plaintiffs, had warned the board of a challenge if it didn't make changes to the Fairbanks-area districts.

The board last Sunday approved a map it contends meets constitutional requirements. That plan has been submitted to a judge for review.

The Alaska Supreme Court ordered a new map be drawn for the 2014 elections after allowing an interim plan to be used for 2012 races.

Rabies treatment: Alaska won’t pay for treatments

(AP) Beginning Jan. 1, the state of Alaska will no longer offer a subsidized treatment plan for rabies infections.

Valdez Star photo

Afghanistan War veteran Michael Crawford (far right) was greeted by members of the US Coast Guard Friday when the San Antonio man visited Valdez as part of the free fishing trip to the Copper Basin courtesy of the Wounded Warrior program. Crawford was invited to steak night at the Elks Lodge courtesy of Bob Leisy, Valdez snowbird, who winters in Arizona.

The state's epidemiology department sent an email this week saying it will no longer give away ``rabies post-exposure prophylaxis,'' the medicine used to treat people exposed to rabies, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

``For decades, the state has just had it and given it out for free,'' epidemiologist Louisa Castrodale said. ``That piece is going to be changing.''

The announcement comes two months after a pair of rabid wolves was located in Interior Alaska.

Rabies is typically spread through animal bites and is fatal if untreated. Rabies is found in wild animals in northern and western Alaska, but the discovery of two rabid wolves killed by trappers in the Chandalar Lake area, about 185 miles north of Fairbanks, was the first reports in the Interior.

From 2008-2012, the state paid $450,000 for the medicine to treat rabies in 107 people, including 91 Alaska residents. Thirty of those Alaskans were infected outside the state, as were the 16 non-Alaska residents.

Officials say that money is a big chunk of the division's $18 million annual budget, and canceling the subsidization will allow the department to stave off rising costs in other areas.


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