Beluga population at second-lowest level
Scientists from NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center announced the 2011 abundance estimate for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale population is 284 animals, almost 20 percent lower than last year’s estimate of 340.
This year’s estimate is the second-lowest since NOAA’s surveys began in 1993; the lowest was in 2005, when the estimate was 278. Estimates can vary from year to year based on more than simply the beluga population itself. Different sighting or survey conditions, weather, or changes in beluga behavior or distribution from year to year can affect the survey results. This year’s estimate stays within the range of the 10-year population trend for Cook Inlet belugas, which shows an average annual decline of the population of 1.1 percent.
Scientists know that beluga populations are not capable of increasing more than 20 percent in a year, and believe an actual decline of 20 percent in a year would likely be reflected in a large number of reported mortalities, which NOAA has not seen.
Want to see Governor’s Picnic in Homer?
Gov. Sean and First Lady Sandy Parnell are offering the opportunity for an additional Alaska community to host the 2012 Governor’s Family Picnic. Juneau, Fairbanks, Anchorage, and the Mat-Su annually host the picnic: in the past. However, starting in 2012, a different Alaska community will be chosen to host the picnic each year. Proposals accepted through Feb. 17. To propose your town, fill out the form at: http://gov.alaska.gov/parnell/multimedia/governors-picnic/traveling-picnic.html
December DUI patrols show 70 arrests
The December holiday DUI-focused patrol effort concluded Jan. 2. Alaska State Troopers conducted enhanced patrols from Dec. 16-Jan. 2 to dissuade motorists from driving impaired. Troopers and local law enforcement agencies encourage motorists to continue making smart choices when getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
During the overall enforcement effort: 70 DUI arrests, including seven felony DUIs; 52 drivers charged with driving with suspended or revoked license; 16 REDDI reports were unfounded. Of the 416 crashes investigated by troopers, 50 people were injured and three died. Of the 671 citations issued, 98 were issued for speeding and 21 were issued for seatbelt or other occupant restraint violations.
Alaskans show their generosity
Some $275,000 was collected in the first 100 hours of Alaska’s annual Pick. Click. Give. Campaign. According to the Permanent Fund Dividend Division, as of 6 a.m. Thursday morning, there were 5,319 pledged gifts from 3,387 people whose average pledge equaled $82 per donor. At this rate, if the same number of people file online in 2012 as did in 2011, the program is on track to generate $1.99 million for the more than 400 charitable causes on the list. Find more information on organizations eligible for donations at www.PickClickGive.org.
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