Tonight there is only 1 musher left on the Yukon Quest trail. Jocyline LeBlanc is on the Takhini River, working her way toward Whitehorse. In a few hours she will extinguish the traditional red lantern, indicating that all the mushers are accounted for and safe.
Terry Williams, another "back of the pack" musher in the race scratched at Braeburn following the death of one of his dogs. Preliminary necropsy report is that the dog died of an undetected and unexpected cardiac event. More details should be available once lab work has been completed on tissue samples. There is no indication of wrongdoing on the part of the musher.
'Wild' Dogs May Be Shot by Bethel Police
According to an A.P. story that just surfaced this afternoon, police officers in Bethel, Alaska intend to seek authority to shoot dogs on the spot unless residents do a better job of keeping their pets from running wild. According to the story, there has apparently been an issue with stray dogs biting people and the situation has gotten out of hand. As in many coastal areas of Alaska, there is significant concern that stray dogs my contract rabies, which is common among foxes in the region. "On Thursday alone, the police department received seven reports of wild dogs, including of one that killed a leashed dog."
Opinion - Vigilantism Inevitable when Police Perceived as Ineffective
According to an article in the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska State Troopers are investigating the actions of a pair of "vigilantes" alleged to have forcibly arrested two young fugitives accused of in a series of burglaries in Anchor Point. There was a similar case in the Fairbanks area a few years ago, in which a pair of men were arrested after tracking down thieves who had stolen a snow machine from one of the men. The major similarity in both cases is that troopers were aware of the original crimes, yet were perceived as 'doing nothing' to solve them or to return stolen property to the rightful owners.
Historically, vigilance committees were formed in mining camps when the degree of lawlessness in the camps reached an intolerable level. Even in regions under the jurisdiction of authorized law enforcement officers, when the "authorities" were perceived as ineffective, citizens took the law into their own hands as a matter of self-defense. The problem is that citizens with little or no law enforcement training are likely to use a degree of force that is excessive. According to the article, that was almost certainly true in Anchor Point.
I find the Anchor Point situation a bit vexing. According to the article, there are 4 troopers stationed in that small community, a number described as "enough to reasonably handle the local caseload." Apparently the locals didn't feel the local caseload was being reasonably handled.
It's obvious that AST has a public perception problem, one that is made worse because the agency apparently doesn't much care how the public perceives their efforts. It's a shame, because at one time AST was a department worthy of respect.