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By Dan Rudy 

Local trooper position may be saved

 


The community of Wrangell will be one step closer to having an Alaska Wildlife Trooper (AWT) again, following news that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) has reversed its January decision to cut the position.

Citing budgetary constraints, the position was to be cut along with around 60 others across the state.

“My understanding is the position itself is not going to be removed, but it’s going to be a vacant position,” explained Tim Despain, public information supervisor for DPS. “It could be some time before the actual position is filled.”

At the time of the cut, Wrangell’s was the only extant post vacant in the Southeast area, as Trooper Scott Bjork was transferred to the Juneau area in early 2015. The Petersburg-based trooper was planned to cover the additional area.

However, a letter issued by Wrangell’s Fish and Game Advisory Committee in February criticized this idea as inadequate and requested the position’s reinstatement. At the least, the committee wanted the Division of AWT to ensure a trooper would spend half the year posted in the Wrangell area.

Community members gave additional input, and District 36 Rep. Dan Ortiz had made reinstatement of the position a goal of his first session in Juneau.

“I think it’s a good thing,” commented Wrangell Mayor David Jack. In February, Jack and the Borough Assembly also issued a letter stressing the benefits a trooper provides the community. “It seems like every time they cut something they do it in Southeast,” Jack added.

Instead of the Wrangell position, Despain said a trooper posting in Yakutat will be eliminated. However, this decision is tentative until the budget is finalized.

 

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