Locals give no clues in mastodon tusk disappearance

Sunday, May 9, 2004

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Crime is so rare in the tiny Alaska Native community of Deering that police say the theft of two fossilized mastodon tusks shouldn't be a behemoth case.

But the 131 residents in this tight-knit community have been tight-lipped about the robbery, stymieing investigators.

"It's only a limited number of people who could do it, and even a smaller number who would do it within the community," said Sgt. Karl Erickson of the Alaska State Troopers in Kotzebue.

Fossil hunting is a popular pastime in Deering, a village of mostly Inupiat Eskimos on the Seward Peninsula at the mouth of the Inmachuk River.

Locals hunt for the bones and tusks of mastodon, giant elephant-like beasts that roamed the earth millions of years ago.

"You can find stuff every year," said resident Jim Moto. "But if it doesn't flood, you don't find anything at all."

Tusks in good condition can fetch $100 per pound or more, Moto said.

Last month, Deering resident Gilbert Barr noticed that two tusks, valued at $30,000, were missing from a warehouse he shared with the local grocery.

Police say there were no signs of forced entry or evidence at the warehouse, Erickson said.

"Until new evidence comes up with other potential suspects, we don't have any other avenues," he said. "There must be people who knew what took place but are afraid to come forward. That is a problem with a small community."

Ordinance would bar dogs from windows at shops

GASTON, N.C. -- How much is that doggie in the window?

Putting his pooches on public display could cost bail bondsman Clint Baucom $25.

The City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday banning dogs in store windows, except in the case of pet shops. Violators are subject to a $25 fine.

Baucom keeps his dogs "Bubba," a German shepherd-rottweiler mix, and "Jake," a blind Doberman-German shepherd mix, in two display windows of his storefront office downtown.

"We're not targeting that business. We're targeting a problem that that business brought to light," Assistant City Attorney Melissa Magee said.

Merchants and property owners want to portray a positive image, which the big dogs in a shop window don't fit, said Councilman Jeff Horne.

"They're unsightly and it's probably not good for the dogs," said Arnold Walker, who owns a nearby pharmacy.

Baucom says his dogs give his office a sense of protection, and he's able to better care for them at the store given his round-the-clock business hours.

-- From wire reports

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