Vandals strike fish camps along the Kuskokwim River

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2002

BETHEL (AP) -- A rash of vandalism of fish camps along the Kuskokwim River and thefts from boats anchored along Brown Slough have struck Bethel in recent weeks.

Hundreds of boaters anchor their boats along the river's shoreline every summer.

Two weeks ago, elder Peter Aluska, 72, had his 18-foot boat and a 50-fathom king salmon net stolen. He's heartbroken over the theft.

''I had used it just once to fish for salmon this year,'' Aluska said. ''I need that boat, motor and net to subsistence fish with.''

The red Lund boat, with the registration number AK8141AA stenciled on the side of its bow, was tied along the bank across from the Prop Shop. It has a black 40-horsepower Mercury outboard motor, Aluska said.

Nick Kameroff of Bethel had planned to subsistence fish for king salmon on June 6, but when he got to his boat he found his net and battery stolen.

Moravian pastor Walter Larson returned to Bethel on May 27 to prepare for the subsistence fishing season. When his family went to their camp five miles upriver from Bethel, they discovered their cabin had been broken into.

Larson repaired the cabin's door and returned to Bethel. But the next day he returned to find his cabin ransacked.

''It was completely trashed. The door was broken in again, all the windows had been broken out,'' Larson said. ''The table and chairs had been thrown into the river, along with the cupboards and all the cups and dishes along with them.''

Bethel's acting police chief George Dahl sent two police officers to Larson's camp to investigate the burglary.

''It was bashed,'' said Dahl. ''These acts of vandalism are not acts of need, but just plain viciousness.''

The Natives in the old days used to have a neighborhood watch where people looked out for one another's property, Larson said.

''Nowadays, people are on the look out for number one. What they forget is that what goes around, comes around and can come back worse than what they dished out,'' Larson said.

Two years ago, Joanne Neck of Bethel returned to her fish camp near Oscarville to find her cabin door broken down. The wood stove and pipe had been knocked over and ashes and soot were everywhere. Nothing was stolen, but there was a lot to clean up, Neck said.

Neck repaired the cabin, but in May it was broken into again.

''I left the door purposely unlocked this time, so whoever broke in wouldn't have to kick in the door. But they went and kicked it in anyway,'' she said. Again, the vandals took nothing.

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