Month: August 2021

Homicide case in limbo as judge considers indictment’s validity

Homicide case in limbo as judge considers indictment’s validity

first_imgCrime & Courts | JuneauHomicide case in limbo as judge considers indictment’s validitySeptember 26, 2017 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:A Juneau judge is considering whether to throw out an indictment in a homicide case.David Evenson leaves the courtroom after a pre-trial hearing in his case on Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)Prosecution and defense attorneys participated in pre-trial oral arguments last week in the David Evenson case.Evenson is accused of punching and kicking Aaron Monette, 56, in the head June 30 at the downtown transit center. Monette died five days later in Seattle.The 51-year-old Evenson was indicted on felony charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.Public defender Eric Hedland said video gathered as evidence shows Evenson punching Monette a single time. As far as allegedly kicking him, Hedland said that’s unclear.Hedland wants the indictment against Evenson dismissed.He believes the grand jury was improperly instructed on elements of the charges.For example, the definition of manslaughter is when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes the death of another person.The definition of reckless is when someone is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that – in this case – someone could die after being hit.Put another way, how could Evenson foresee that a single punch to Monette’s head would burst a pre-existing aneurysm?“I think there’s a good chance that if the grand jury was told ‘Hey, look, if you find this is too unlikely or too remote, then you can’t hold him criminally liable,’” Hedland said. “And, that certainly might’ve prompted a grand juror to ask (a medical examiner) a question: ‘Well, you just said it was like .2 to .5 percent of a time that an aneurysm ever ruptured. What does that mean? Was that unlikely?’”Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige said Monette dying from the punch may have been a remote possibility, but it was not unforeseeable.“Can a person die from a head injury? Yes. We all know that,” Paige said. “We know that through general awareness in the same way we know that DUI can kill people, in the same way that we know texting and driving can kill people. We know that head injuries can cause a person’s death.”If the judge agrees with Hedland’s arguments, then the indictment could be thrown out and an upcoming jury trial would be canceled. Prosecutors would have to start over and go back to the grand jury if they wanted to prosecute Evenson for Monette’s death.If the judge disagrees and lets the indictment stand, then Evenson could stand trial in February.Evenson did not speak during the hearing last week, but afterward he waved and spoke to a grandchild as he was being led out of the courtroom by a judicial services officer.“Thank you for coming,” Evenson said. “Bye, baby. I love you.”Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg is expected to issue an opinion on the motion to dismiss the indictment by the end of October.Share this story:last_img read more

State-run raffle could be new way to fund schools

State-run raffle could be new way to fund schools

first_imgEconomy | Education | Interior | Southcentral | State GovernmentState-run raffle could be new way to fund schoolsMay 24, 2018 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, speaks in the Alaska Senate on April 15. Bishop sponsored legislation to fund public schools using a statewide raffle. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)Alaskans could have a new choice for what to do with their permanent fund dividends next year: a raffle that would fund public schools. Lawmakers passed House Bill 213, a measure that would start a raffle that could pay a top prize as high as $24 million in the future.At a time when Alaska lawmakers have struggled to close the gap between how much the state spends and what it brings in, finding new funding for public schools has been hard.Fairbanks Republican Sen. Click Bishop said he heard a wish during public testimony on the budget, year after year.“‘I wish I had a way to donate my permanent fund to … the general fund, or education,’” Bishop said. “And now you’ve got a vehicle to do that.”Bishop combined the idea of donating money with a strategy other states use to fund schools: a lottery.“I think there’s 15 other states that have year-round education lotteries,” he said. “And this is just an old-fashioned bucket raffle.”Here’s how it would work: each Alaskan adult would be able to donate $100 increments to the raffle when they apply for their PFD. Each $100 would count as one raffle entry. And once per year, four winners would be drawn. Kids couldn’t participate.This cartoon was attached to a legislative fiscal note on the bill establishing an education raffle through PFD donations. It depicts how donations would be divided under the recently passed bill with Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, in the upper left corner. The cartoon is by John Manley, who has worked as an aide to Bishop. (Courtesy Alaska Legislature)Each $100 would be split three ways. Half would go directly toward schools. A quarter of the donation would go to the raffle fund. And a quarter would be used to start a new state education endowment. Once that endowment fund hits $1 billion, it would pay out money each year to schools.Of the raffle fund, 8 percent would go to the top prize, with smaller amounts going to three others.The idea of donating money through the PFD may sound familiar. It’s the same method as Pick.Click.Give. That’s the program that allows Alaskans to donate to designated nonprofits.And the bill has raised concern among Pick.Click.Give. supporters. Anchorage independent Rep. Jason Grenn is the former manager for Pick.Click.Give. Grenn noted that donations have dropped due to the recession. And he sees the education raffle further squeezing the nonprofits.“I fear that a program  that has been innovative and has raised tens of millions of dollars for hundreds of nonprofits across our state will start to see the deterioration even further,” he said.No one knows how much Alaskans would give to the program. Bishop used $60 million a year as a long-term target. That’s 600,000 of those $100 entries — an average of more than one per Alaskan adult. Pick.Click.Give. gets $2.5 million in total donations per year.But it’s much less than the $350 million Alaskans currently spend on various forms of legal gaming, from pull tabs to bingo.Fairbanks Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg voted against the raffle.“This is a gaming bill disguised as educational funding,” he said. “That’s all it is.”Guttenberg said lower-income residents could be hurt.“We fight amongst ourselves on how much we’re going to give in the permanent fund (dividends), because we want to give the people as much as we could possibly give, and now we’re put a temptation in front of them to gamble it away,” he said.But others said that it’s unfair to see the bill as primarily a form of gambling. That’s because most of the donations will go to fund schools, and only a small share will go to raffle winnings.Bishop noted that gambling already exists in the state.“Well, if we were so concerned about gambling away our permanent fund, then how come there hasn’t been a hue and cry to repeal the 18 different types of gaming that’s in Alaska now that you can play year-round, that does not benefit education,” he said. “This bill benefits the children.”It could take decades for the raffle fund to reach its maximum size under the bill of $300 million. Once it reaches that point, more of the donations would be directed to the new education endowment.Bishop is hopeful about the bill. And even in the worst case, he said the state won’t be worse off.“The proof’s in the pudding,” he said. “It might be a total flop, but you know what? We were trying something.”Bishop said he plans to put at least $100 of his dividend into the raffle each year. But he has a higher priority for his PFD – saving for college for his four grandchildren.The Legislature hasn’t officially transmitted the bill to Gov. Bill Walker yet.Share this story:last_img read more

UA regents to meet in Juneau this week

UA regents to meet in Juneau this week

first_imgJuneau | University of AlaskaUA regents to meet in Juneau this weekSeptember 12, 2018 by Adelyn Baxter, KTOO Share:The University of Alaska Board of Regents will meet in Juneau on Thursday and Friday to discuss the university system’s budget and programs.The meeting agenda includes updates on the university’s compliance with federal requirements for handling sexual discrimination, harassment and assault. It also includes progress on Strategic Pathways, the university’s comprehensive cost-cutting plan now in its third and final phase.At the University of Alaska Southeast campus, regents will begin discussing their budget request to the Alaska Legislature for next year.Tuition for most UA students increased 5 percent this fall. Regents approved that hike last November. Tuition will rise another 5 percent next school year as well.The board plans to hold a public reception Thursday evening at the UAS Recreation Center.The meeting will be livestreamed at alaska.edu.The full board meets regularly every two months at alternating campuses.Share this story:last_img read more

Seven black Alaskans are running for the Legislature — and most are Republicans

Seven black Alaskans are running for the Legislature — and most are Republicans

first_imgElection Coverage | Politics | State GovernmentSeven black Alaskans are running for the Legislature — and most are RepublicansNovember 2, 2018 by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media Share:Marilyn Stewart is running for House District 21. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)Alaska State House of Representatives candidate Marilyn Stewart grew up in a family of Democrats in Alabama. Her first political job in Alaska was with Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in community relations. Stewart later joined the Republican Party when she began to feel the Democratic Party wasn’t doing enough to elevate people from lower economic standings — especially for black Alaskans like her.“I would hear things like, ‘Well we gotta get those people to the polls to vote. Who in the black community should we reach out to that can galvanize these people and get them to the polls and vote?’” Stewart said. “Versus in the Republican Party, the conversation we’re having is that we want prosperity, we want business opportunity for all.”The Alaska Legislature has always been overwhelmingly white. Even in the most diverse areas of the state, white Alaskans have almost always been elected to serve in Juneau. This year, there are seven black Alaskans running for the Legislature — six for the House and one for the Senate.Anchorage NAACP president Kevin McGee said he’s never seen so many black candidates on the ballot.Ceezar Martinson is running for House District 20. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)“Not to my knowledge, and like I said, I’ve been here since ’73,” McGee said.And four of the candidates are black Republicans — like Marilyn Stewart. They make up about 11 percent of the Republicans running for the state House.Tuckerman Babcock chairs the Alaska Republican Party. He said the party doesn’t go out of its way to recruit diverse candidates, but the party has been encouraging minority candidates who show interest in Republican politics to seek prominent roles.“People who have traditionally not given the Republican Party any thought, despite their being moderate or conservative themselves, now they realize they are welcome, they are encouraged,” Babcock said.All four black Republicans running for the House ran unopposed in the primary elections, something Babcock attributed to the support of the party for those candidates. But they’ll have an uphill battle to win the general election. All are running for office in districts that have been long-represented by Democrats. Ceezar Martinson is running to fill the District 20 seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Les Gara.The other black Republican candidates are Marcus Sanders, running against incumbent Andy Josephson for House District 17, and Stanley Wright who’s challenging incumbent Ivy Spohnholz in House District 16.One of the black Democrats running for the state House is Danyelle Kimp, who’s running against Republican Nancy Dahlstrom to replace outgoing Rep. Dan Saddler. The other, Dennis Harris, is running to unseat incumbent Louise Stutes in House District 32.Martinson said that he’s encouraged that, even if he and the other candidates don’t all win, they are showing a diversity of thought among black Americans.“And it’s been an honor to run with all of them, because I think all of us have a diversity of background and experience that we have brought to our races and to the discussions that we’re having around different issues,” Martinson said. “And I think it’s really elevated the conversation.”Elvi Gray-Jackson is running for Senate District I. (Photo by Alaska Public Media)One of the black candidates running for office who might have a clearer path to victory is Democrat Elvi Gray-Jackson, the sole black candidate running for the Senate. Gray-Jackson has a career in Alaska politics that stretches back to the 1990s with her service for and on the Anchorage Assembly. She’s also running against Republican Jim Crawford to replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Berta Gardner in a traditionally liberal district.Gray-Jackson has worked locally to help recruit diverse candidates for the Democratic Party, and she said that diversity for its own sake can’t be a minority candidate’s sole platform.“I happen to be African American, but the people that I’m going to represent are not all African Americans,” Gray-Jackson said. “We have a diverse community. I represent everybody. I work for all the people, not just people who look like me, but I work for all the people.”Local NAACP president McGee said that even though most black Alaskans identify with the Democratic party, issues-focused campaigns are a common thread among all of the candidates of color running for office.“If people are honest with themselves, you get an honest approach to seeking out solutions,” McGee said. “Now if you just go in there and say, ‘I’m a Democrat, and I’m only gonna look at the Democratic side of things,’ that’s not right either.”McGee said he’s hopeful that seeing higher numbers of minority candidates in general will encourage those who thought politics wasn’t for them to reconsider.Correction: This story has been updated to reflect a seventh black candidate for the Legislature: Dennis Harris, a Democrat running for House District 32.Share this story:last_img read more

Thane Ore House to burn Saturday

Thane Ore House to burn Saturday

first_imgAlaska Native Arts & Culture | Community | Juneau | Public Safety | SoutheastThane Ore House to burn SaturdayNovember 23, 2018 by Adelyn Baxter, KTOO Share:The former Thane Ore House restaurant in Juneau pictured on Aug. 8, 2017. The 35-year-old building is slated to be razed in a controlled burn to make way for redevelopment of the site. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)The former Thane Ore House restaurant will burn this weekend as part of a training exercise for local firefighters.The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska plans to build a $7 million cultural immersion park on the site. It’s been waiting for clearance to burn it down since discovering the interior was uninhabitable last year.The restaurant was shuttered in 2012 after the owners were evicted for not paying city sales tax. The Juneau Assembly approved the 1.2-acre lease to the tribe in 2016.Capital City Fire/Rescue hopes to start the controlled burn at 10 a.m. on Saturday and finish by 4 p.m.According to a Facebook post, they not plan to close Thane Road during the burn, but ask that drivers use caution when passing through the area.Clean up will be left to the tribe. A staff member could not be reached for comment about updates on plans for the immersion park.Share this story:last_img read more

Alcohol office recommends state fair lose liquor license

Alcohol office recommends state fair lose liquor license

first_imgCommunity | SouthcentralAlcohol office recommends state fair lose liquor licenseDecember 19, 2018 by Associated Press Share:Alcohol regulators will consider a recommendation to reject the renewal of the Alaska State Fair’s liquor license — a move that fair officials said would be “devastating” and could lead to higher ticket prices.The state Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office made the recommendation, aiming to crack down on longtime recreational site licenses that might not be used as intended under state law, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week.The fair would need to “greatly increase” admission prices if it loses its ability to sell beer and wine, said Stephen Brown, president of the fair board.In the past, legislative auditors have faulted the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for issuing recreational site licenses to events like the fair. Under state law, recreational site licenses allow beer and wine to be served at locations that host “baseball games, car races, hockey games, dog sled racing events, or curling matches.”The board has previously stretched the legal definition to grant licenses for ski areas. The fair has held a recreational site license since 1981.The board approved a recreational site license renewal for Arctic Valley Ski Area in August, going against the recommendation of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. Two months later, the board voted against a recreational site license for Eaglecrest Ski Area.The board has delayed consideration of the fair’s liquor license until February.While discussing the fair’s license this week, board chairman Bob Klein suggested the state Legislature might need an incentive because it has been reluctant to fix problematic alcohol legislation.“There is some merit in holding this license hostage,” Klein said.___Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.comShare this story:last_img read more

Listen: Hoonah’s Heritage Celebration Ḵu.éex’ highlights the importance of traditional knowledge in education

Listen: Hoonah’s Heritage Celebration Ḵu.éex’ highlights the importance of traditional knowledge in education

first_imgAlaska Native Arts & Culture | Juneau Afternoon | SoutheastListen: Hoonah’s Heritage Celebration Ḵu.éex’ highlights the importance of traditional knowledge in educationMay 3, 2019 by Scott Burton, KTOO Share:Scott Burton interviewing Ḵu.éex’ organizer, Tlingit language teacher and mom, Lgéikʼi Heather Powell in Hoonah on May 2, 2019. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)The KTOO Arts and Culture team is on the road this week to be a part of Hoonah City Schools 29th annual Heritage Celebration Ḵu.éex’ and to produce two episodes of Juneau Afternoon, which we are calling Hoonah Afternoon.During one segment of the program host Scott Burton sat down with one of the Ḵu.éex’ organizers, a Tlingit language teacher, and mom, Lgéikʼi Heather Powell.“Tlingit people in general have such resiliency,” she said. “You know indigenous people have such resiliency, but there’s so many stories of creation and migration. Specifically that adhere to our Hoonah Ḵáawu, when we came from Glacier Bay, and all of those things that have tied us in to the identity of who we are and what brought us to this place. And I think that this Ḵu.éex’ has been one of those huge pieces that every year recharges our community,” said Powell. To hear the rest of their conversation, as well as thoughts from participating students, and the other organizers of Hoonah’s big annual event, tune in to Hoonah Afternoon today at 3 p.m. or listen below.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2019/05/Friday_5-3_HoonahAfternoon_show.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Just wrapped Day Two of recordings for Hoonah Afternoon! Hear Duffy Wright, Ralph Watkins, Carol Williams and Heather Powell talk about Hoonah Schools Annual Ku.eex Friday on Juneau Afternoon @KTOOpubmedia pic.twitter.com/ybyGZN7baE— Annie Bartholomew (@AnnieBAlaska) May 3, 2019 We got to meet students preparing for Hoonah Schools Annual Ku.eex! Last year our friends @adelynbaxter & @TrippCrouse covered the event for @KTOOpubmedia : https://t.co/eCI6D6kqQ3 pic.twitter.com/JpMxx26eQE— Annie Bartholomew (@AnnieBAlaska) May 3, 2019Hoonah City Schools 29th annual Heritage Celebration Ḵu.éex’ on May 3, 2019. (Photo by Scott Burton/KTOO)Share this story:last_img read more

Endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales continue to decline, and scientists aren’t sure why

Endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales continue to decline, and scientists aren’t sure why

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Energy & Mining | Environment | Federal Government | Oceans | Science & Tech | Southcentral | WildlifeEndangered Cook Inlet beluga whales continue to decline, and scientists aren’t sure whyMarch 5, 2020 by Kavitha George, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Kodiak Share:Cook Inlet beluga whale. (Public domain photo by Paul Wade/NOAA Fisheries)Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2020/03/28BELUGAS.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The decline of the white whales in the inlet in view of Anchorage has been going on for decades.In the 1970s they numbered around 1,400. In 2008, Cook Inlet belugas were listed as endangered, and still the numbers continued to drop. With new analysis methods today, there are even fewer whales than previously thought — less than 300, and steadily declining from there.Still, the reasons why Cook Inlet belugas are disappearing are still largely a mystery to researchers.“It’s such a frustration to not be able to really understand why the population is not recovering,” said Paul Wade, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher who has done aerial surveys of Cook Inlet belugas since the 1990s. “So we are just stuck with hypotheses that we really cannot yet prove or disprove.”Wade and other researchers have a number of theories for why they’re disappearing, from direct human interaction to climate change disrupting their food source.“I think the reduction in prey is something that we have a little more concern and want more information about, given … declines in salmon in Alaska, including some of the salmon runs in Cook Inlet,” he said.Cook Inlet is also just really loud. Passenger and cargo jets roar into Anchorage multiple times a day. Container ships deliver food and consumer goods to the busy port. Cruise ships travel through in the summers, and a railroad follows the inlet down the coast.All of these can interfere with belugas’ echolocation — the clicking, chirping and whistling noises they make to “see” through the murky water.Wade said sound interference can make it harder for them to find prey and may prevent them from entering certain parts of their habitat. A loud environment can also make it more difficult for a calf to call for its mother, potentially separating a young whale from its mom, he said.A Cook Inlet beluga whale mother and neonatal calf swim together. (Public domain photo by Hollis Europe and Jacob Barbaro/NOAA Fisheries)Environmental advocates have blamed some of the sound disturbance on drilling activities in Cook Inlet.Last fall, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA Fisheries, for authorizing Hilcorp’s oil and gas activities in the area. The conservation group says that’s in violation of the Endangered Species Act protecting the belugas.Center for Biological Diversity lawyer Julie Teel Simmonds said seismic surveys and pile driving can reach up to 250 decibels, threatening beluga health.“What you see is death by a thousand cuts for these kinds of species like belugas,” she said. “It is just a cumulative approval of these projects one by one, with the government and the industry unwilling to look at the picture as a whole and say, ‘This species is not going to make it, and together these activities are killing the Cook Inlet beluga.’”NOAA Fisheries told KTUU last month that the limitations in place are sufficient, even with the further decline in belugas.Hilcorp did not respond to a request for comment in time for broadcast.Part of the reason scientists haven’t been able to narrow down the reasons for the Cook Inlet beluga decline is that they’re very difficult to study. Cook Inlet has silty, opaque water that makes the whales difficult to photograph in the water — much of Cook Inlet beluga research has to be done from the air.Even studying washed up belugas is tricky. Kathy Burek, a veterinary pathologist based in Anchorage, remembers studying one beluga that died from choking on a flounder, but beyond that she said it’s hard to remember any with a distinct cause of death.“Whales get rotten really fast. And once they start getting rotten, you can’t do a lot of the testing that you do to see if they died of an infectious disease.” It’s frustrating, Burek said, but “The vast majority of time, I don’t know why they died.”Cook Inlet belugas are a genetically distinct population, separated from the nearest other cluster of Alaskan belugas — in Bristol Bay — by hundreds of miles. Wade said that if this population were to go extinct, it’s very unlikely that other white whales would swim over to take their place.NOAA has an ongoing acoustic monitoring effort to study beluga movements in Cook Inlet and try to explain the decline. The next aerial survey is scheduled for this summer. Dunleavy administration wants to join court case in defense of Hilcorp’s search for Cook Inlet oilShare this story:last_img read more

‘I feel more connected to my teachers’: Juneau high school fosters community, social and emotional growth for students

‘I feel more connected to my teachers’: Juneau high school fosters community, social and emotional growth for students

first_imgCoronavirus | Juneau | Juneau Schools‘I feel more connected to my teachers’: Juneau high school fosters community, social and emotional growth for studentsDecember 28, 2020 by Pablo Arauz Peña, KTOO Share:Artwork at Yaakoosgé Daakahidi High School (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)It has been a tough year for students because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But one program at Juneau’s Yaakoosgé Daakahidi High School is seeing students flourish with distance learning.Recently, students at Yaakoosgé Daakahidi High School showed off handmade gingerbread houses for an end-of-the-year talent show. But because classes are virtual, they were called into a digital spotlight instead of standing in front of other students.Each student described their technique as they put their own twist on the holiday treat.The virtual talent show was part of an advisory class program at the school. While all high schools in the Juneau School District have advisory classes two times a week, the program at Yaakoosgé Daakahidi has five, with one each day.“These classes are more focused at creating a connection and bond with students between staff at the school and the students, and also allows students to connect with one another on a more, deeper level. And so they’re more focused towards the students’ emotional and social well-being,” said Mary Wright, an advisor at the school.Wright said small student groups allow for that more meaningful connection that aids learning. Topics include mental health, self care and healthy boundaries.Back in the talent show, students expressed themselves through song, jokes and visual art. It was vibrant and kind of noisy.Devin Tatro is a social studies teacher and an advisor at the school. She said advisors see students through their learning journey at Yaakoosgé from start to finish.“What’s special about advisory Is that really the point is to do social emotional skills, and community building with that group of students, and also to empower the students to form relationships with staff and students in the rest of the school,” Tatro said.Each teacher has an advisory group of about 16 kids. Advisors work with students to create a graduation plan, keep track of grades and communicate with parents. Upon graduation, advisors give a speech about each student.That extra attention is having a positive impact on students. And this year, with mandatory distance learning, some students who might have struggled in normal times are flourishing in advisory classes.Connor Carroll is one of those students.“I feel more connected to my teachers at Yaakoos(gé),” Carroll said. “And other schools, I really feel like I didn’t have that connection. And that had a big effect on my grades and the work I did.”Carroll said the virtual classes have helped him break out of his shell.“I have a harder time in public situations, especially with larger crowds,” he said. “And that’s another great thing about Yaakoosgé. It’s not that big of a crowd, so it’s more comfortable.”And while the upcoming school year is expected to be at least partially in-person, Carroll said he looks forward to the next semester.Share this story:last_img read more

Haines man mauled by bear while backcountry snowboarding

Haines man mauled by bear while backcountry snowboarding

first_imgOutdoors | Search & Rescue | Southeast | WildlifeHaines man mauled by bear while backcountry snowboardingFebruary 8, 2021 by Henry Leasia, KHNS – Haines Share:Screen grab from a video of a U.S. Coast Guard rescue of a man mauled by a bear in the mountains near Haines on Saturday, February 6, 2021. (USCG)A Haines man was mauled by a bear while backcountry snowboarding near Chilkoot Lake over the weekend. State troopers said he was attacked after encountering a bear den while backcountry snowboarding with two others.The bear attacked Haines resident Bartek Pieciul on Saturday afternoon while he was climbing a mountainside with a group of friends about 10 miles northwest of Haines. Troopers said the group unknowingly came upon a den occupied by a brown bear sow and possibly some cubs about 1,600 feet above Chilkoot Lake.Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Carl Koch said it can be very difficult to spot a bear den, particularly in the middle of winter. Although bears are less active during the winter, they aren’t asleep the whole time.“They are very lethargic, their body temperature does drop, but they are absolutely capable of being disturbed in a den site,” Koch said. “It’s not like they’re in this immobile state.”The sow exited the den and mauled Pieciul before leaving the area. The attack left him unable to walk back downhill. The other skiers in the group used a satellite communication device to call for help.Due to the remoteness of the area and the steep terrain, state troopers requested assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard. A Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka responded to transport the man to a hospital.The skiers provided GPS coordinates and used brightly colored fabric to signal the helicopter as it approached. The air crew successfully hoisted Pieciul into the helicopter and provided medical care while in transit.According to Koch, it is unlikely that Fish and Game will try to find the bear that mauled Pieciul because it was acting defensively, not aggressively.“It would be very tricky to get to logistically and since it’s not an aggressive bear we’re going to let it well enough alone and probably a good idea for folks to stay out of the area,” Koch said.Troopers said Piecieul is being treated at a hospital in Juneau. He suffered a broken arm, puncture wounds and other injuries. Sources close to him said he is now stable and may be discharged as early as Tuesday.A GoFundMe page has been created to support Pieciul’s recovery.Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information. Correction: A previous version of this story stated Piecieul is being treated at a hospital in Anchorage. He is being treated in Juneau.Share this story:last_img read more