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Scripps Howard News Service


July 06, 2005

GLEN ALPS, Alaska - Jonathan Casurella had his Subaru's doors open while packing for a trip when a black bear jumped into the car. The bear ravaged his lunch, ripped some upholstery and dug into a box of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Casurella beat pots and pans and even bonked the car with a shoe, but the bear wouldn't leave. In fact, still sitting in the car, it "snarled and threw up his arms and lunged," Casurella said. So he called police.

The honeyed oats turned out to be the 1 1/2-year-old bear's last meal. Alaska Fish and Game wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott shot it because it was believed to have been the same bear that had been walking up to people and cars during the past several weeks.

"The most troublesome report was from about 10 days ago," Sinnott said. "It was basically running around the parking lot person to person, car to car."

The bear learned that if it approached people, they'd throw food, he said.

It was an 80- to 90-pound female, not long separated from its mother.

"This bear was not going to kill someone right now. But if it gets a little bigger, more aggressive and more dominant, it could," Sinnott said.

- Anchorage Daily News


STUART, Fla. - The hyperactive little Jack Russell terrier named Kaylee would chase anything thrown her way.

And to the horror of several adults and children at the Kolinoski family July 4 picnic, she did exactly that with a powerful firecracker thrown into her yard.

No charges, however, were expected to be filed in the death of the dog after the firecracker exploded in her mouth, authorities said.

"I lost a family member," Joseph P. Kolinoski, 26, wrote in a statement to a sheriff's deputy.

He said later in a phone interview that he was grateful no one else was hurt.

"It could have been a lot worse," he said. "We had a lot of kids out there."

- Stuart News


SAN FRANCISCO - California's endangered population of southern sea otters declined slightly during the past year, an annual census showed, but on average their numbers have been increasing for more than 20 years.

Observers counted 2,735 otters along the California coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Barbara, a 3.2 percent decrease from the year before, according to Brian Hatfield, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

To monitor the population trend more realistically, however, observers maintain three-year averages of their count, and the running average for the past three years shows an 8 percent increase. Last year's count reached a record high of 2,825 animals. In 1983, when the annual spring census began, only 1,277 animals were counted.

"It's too early to tell whether or not the decrease this year marks the beginning of a new downward trend," Hatfield said, "and it will take fresh counts next year and the year after before we know what the state of the animals really is."

The furry mammals, which rest among the kelp beds along the coast and dive for huge numbers of sea urchins as their major food source, once numbered in the hundreds of thousands but were nearly wiped out by commercial fur hunters until hunting the mammals was banned in 1911.

- San Francisco Chronicle



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