Increased bear maulings puzzle Alaska wildlife officials

By Rachel D’oro, The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two more Alaskans were mauled by bears over the weekend, bringing the number of bear attacks in the state to four in less than a week, including two fatalities.

Alaska wildlife officials say they don’t know why there have been so many attacks in such a short time. But one official speculated Monday that perhaps bears are coming closer to people this year to follow available food sources such as moose.

Dave Battle, the state Fish and Game area biologist for the Anchorage region, also noted that more people also are spending time in the backcountry than they did in the past. But he cautioned that many factors could be involved.

“The long and short of it is that no one knows exactly what’s going on,” he said, noting that the number of bear encounters can vary widely from year to year.

On Saturday, two people were injured in separate brown bear attacks, one on military land in Anchorage and the other near the community of Hope south of Anchorage. Both of those cases involved a bear with a cub, indicating the animals were acting defensively to protect their young.

In the weekend attack on military land, bicyclists James Fredrick and Alex Ippoliti were on a recreational ride in the woods at the north end of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Saturday morning when they heard rustling in bushes and figured it might be a moose or porcupine, Ippoliti recalled Monday in a phone interview.

Suddenly, a brown bear charged at Fredrick and pulled him off the bike and began mauling him in the upper body, said Ippoliti, who was not injured in the attack. Fredrick was carrying bear deterrent spray and doused the bear, which ran into the bushes. It was only after that that he saw the cub …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

Artist Salvador Dali’s bones to be exhumed in Spain for paternity test

By Aritz Parra, The Associated Press

MADRID — A Spanish judge on Monday ordered the remains of artist Salvador Dali to be exhumed to settle a paternity suit, despite opposition from the state-run foundation that manages the artist’s estate.

Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealist art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres.

Pilar Abel, a tarot-card reader from the nearby city of Girona who was born in 1956, says she is the offspring of an affair between Dali and her mother, Antonia.

At the time of the alleged affair, Dali was married to his muse, Gala, who died seven years before the painter. Gala had a daughter from an earlier marriage but the couple had no children of their own. Upon his death, at age 84, Dali bestowed his estate to the Spanish state.

On Monday, a Madrid court statement said that tests with DNA from Dali’s embalmed body were necessary because there were no other existing biological remains with which to make a genetic comparison.

Abel’s court litigation started in 2015 when she sued the Ministry of Finance, as the trustee of Dali’s estate, and the Gala Dali Foundation that was created to administer it.

“What she wants is to have a result of the tests with full guarantee in order to finish with this as soon as possible,” Abel’s lawyer Enrique Blanquez told The Associated Press.

If there’s a match, Abel could use Dali as her surname and pursue further legal action to claim her rights over the artist’s work and property, which according to regional laws could amount to 25 percent of all of the estate.

The Gala Dali Foundation will appeal Monday’s decision, foundation spokeswoman Imma Parada said in an e-mailed statement.

But according to Blanquez, the appeal could not immediately stop the exhuming of …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

Utah wildfire grows to largest active fire in the U.S.

By Brady Mccombs, The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The nation’s largest wildfire has forced more than 1,500 people from their homes and cabins in a southern Utah mountain area home to a ski town and popular fishing lake.

Firefighters battled high winds Monday as they fought a fire that has grown to 72 square miles (184 square kilometers) and burned 13 homes — larger than any other fire in the country now, state emergency managers said.

Some flames reached 100 feet high, while fire crews faced dry, windy conditions Tuesday and a “high potential” for extreme fire behavior, officials said late Monday.

The estimated firefighting costs now top $7 million for a fire started June 17 near the Brian Head Resort by someone using a torch tool to burn weeds, they said. Investigators said they know who the culprit is, but they haven’t yet released the person’s identity or what charges will be leveled.

Crews in California, meanwhile, got a handle on a brush fire that closed a freeway. Arizona firefighters had to ground aircraft because of unauthorized drones over a fire near Flagstaff.

The Utah fire began near the ski resort town of Brian Head, generally known for weekend getaway homes for Las Vegas residents. It has spread several miles east to an area around Panguitch Lake, a popular spot for fishing.

Authorities ordered more evacuations Monday in a sparsely populated area as stronger winds and lower humidity develop that could push fire growth north after calmer weather kept its growth in check over the weekend. The fire is about 10 percent contained.

About 175 people have been briefly allowed back to their homes near Panguitch Lake since Sunday under escort, said Denise Dastrup with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Randi Powell said her grandfather is hoping to get up to see his cabin on Tuesday. …read more

Source:: The Denver Post