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

News briefs


Steve Revis photo

Caution - the blinking sign warns travelers on the Richardson Highway just before hitting town - brown bears have been spotted in town.

Bear Aware

The bears are out and about in Valdez and residents and visitors alike will benefit by following bear safety precautions whether out in nature or in the middle of town.

A family of brown bears - a mother sow with cubs -has been repeatedly spotted in areas in town frequented by humans.

Earlier this season, city officials asked those encountering bears to take basic safety precautions.

"Please do NOT approach the bears!," the city said in a Nixel alert. "Please leave them alone and be cautious if you are outside of your residence."

Report any unsafe conditions to the Valdez Dispatch at 907-835-4560.

Half staff

Flags across Alaska food at half staff Friday in honor of Dutch Harbor Remembrance Day.

Governor Bill Walker ordered all state flags be lowered to commemorate the anniversary of the 1942 Japanese attack on Alaska.

"Dutch Harbor Remembrance Day honors military personnel who served and died defending our country, and the Aleut people who died while imprisoned," Walker's office said in a press release last week.

For Walker, the holiday holds special significance.

"During World War II, my dad served on the Aleutian Islands with Castner's Cutthroats in the Alaskan Scouts. I grew up hearing stories about the brave soldiers who served alongside him," he said, and encouraged Alaskans " honor the men and women who died during the attack on Dutch Harbor, and the inhabitants of Attu and Kiska who fell into enemy hands."

Walker also signed an executive proclamation recognizing June 3, 2016 as Dutch Harbor Remembrance Day in Alaska.

Packing for Canada

(AP) Canadian officials are asking Alaska residents to leave their guns stateside before traveling.

The Canadian Border Service Agency seized about 300 undeclared firearms from travelers in 2015, with more than half coming from travelers crossing into Canada from Alaska, The Ketchikan Daily reports.

"Many of these travelers faced criminal charges and/or a monetary penalty that could have been avoided by simply declaring the guns," read an announcement from the agency last week.

Canada's gun laws are stricter that those of the United States in general and much stricter than Alaska's laws, with most handguns outright prohibited in the country. Canada's border police require all guns be declared and visitors with allowed weapons must have a "valid purpose" for importing the firearms and have the required paperwork. Valid purposes can include in-season hunting, use in competitions, repair, re-enactments and moving through Canada to another destination.

If import requirements are not met, declared firearms can be seized. In that case a receipt would be issued for the weapon and the carrier given a "reasonable amount of time to present the correct documents to the CBSA."

Hate crimes

(AP) An analysis by The Associated Press shows reporting of hate crime statistics by local law enforcement agencies in Alaska to the FBI has been spotty, with eleven departments filing no reports between 2009 and 2014 and gaps in reporting by many others.

The departments that made no reports are in small, rural communities, like Galena, a river community in Alaska's Interior that has seen a churn in staff. Galena currently has only one officer, who has been on the job since January.

Photo courtesy Bob Benda

A pair of swans have been frequenting the 6-mile pond along the Richardson Highway, an area slated for roadwork later this summer.

Departments with gaps of at least two years are in a mix of rural and urban communities, including Fairbanks, Juneau and Bethel.

Reporting of suspected hate crimes isn't mandatory. The FBI encourages it from law enforcement agencies whose officers are empowered to make arrests even if that means recording zero.

UA cuts

(AP) The University of Alaska Board of Regents has approved a budget for fiscal year 2017 that cuts almost $6 million from the previous year's spending plan.

The board approved a $909 million budget for fiscal 2017, with $334 million in projected state funding, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. Overall the budget is $5.8 million less than fiscal 2016's budget, with about $16 million less in state funding.


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