Vancouver’s beluga dies unexpectedly

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Tuvaq, the youngest and most mischievous beluga whale at the Vancouver Aquarium, has died unexpectedly three days before his third birthday, officials said.

Following a routine bimonthly blood test, Tuvaq ate some herring and swam out to play in a pool, then suddenly quit breathing and died at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, aquarium veterinarian Dr. Dave Huff said.

Belugas typically live 40 to 50 years in the wild.

There had been no sign of illness in the nearly 10-foot, 1,375-pound whale, making the death similar to that of a 24-year-old human athlete who drops dead without warning, he said.

The juvenile beluga’s mother Aurora and aunt Allua nuzzled the body and tried to stay as close as possible after Tuvaq died, he said. Saddened aquarium workers kept the three together in a medical isolation pool for about 90 minutes before the dead whale was removed with a crane.

In the past thirty years, five whale calves have died at the aquarium, including two belugas and three orcas. The last baby beluga died in 1977.

Associated Press

Seattle: State mails out drug settlement checks

The state began mailing 1,127 checks worth a total of $403,000 Monday as part of a national settlement for consumers who overpaid for blood pressure medication.

The state was among 27 states and several private plaintiff groups that sued Aventis Pharmaceuticals and Andrx Corp. in 1998, saying the companies conspired to keep a cheaper, generic version of Cardizem CD off the market. Millions of people use the once-a-day prescription drug to treat high blood pressure and angina.

“This was not a case of a company trying to earn a reasonable profit for a new product,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said in a written statement. “It was a deliberate and illegal maneuver by two drug manufacturers who sought to enrich themselves at the expense of vulnerable consumers.”

Associated Press

Okanogan: Search for missing man continues

Okanogan County authorities are continuing to search for a man missing since July 10 who was scheduled to appear Monday in Spokane to face rape and kidnapping charges.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said the search for Tony W. Desautel, 35, has been scaled back.

Police and search and rescue groups have used aircraft and all-terrain vehicles, and dogs and divers began searching on land and in the water since Desautel’s saddled horse was found splashing in the Columbia River near an Elmer City boat launch ramp July 10.

“We’re concentrating on the river,” Rogers said. “We’re trying to see if it’s a hoax or if it’s staged.”

Associated Press

Chelan Falls: Body found in Columbia

The body of a man, apparently a missing orchardist, has been recovered from the Columbia River, Chelan County Sheriff Michael Harum said.

An Arizona resident on a personal watercraft spotted the body of a man believed to be Robert Ekenbarger, 48, about 1 p.m. Thursday, Harum said.

An autopsy to determine the cause of death was pending.

Ekenbarger, whose orchard is about six months north of Chelan Falls, was reported missing by his foreman after he left home about 4:30 a.m. on July 7 to go swimming in the river, the sheriff said. Authorities subsequently searched along the river as far south as Entiat without finding any sign of him.

Associated Press

Alaska: 2 grizzlies taken in predator control

Hunters took only two of the 81 grizzly bears targeted in Alaska’s first predator-control program aimed at grizzlies.

The state Department of Fish and Game issued 111 permits for the targeted area in Game Management Unit 20E near Tok. Of those permit holders, 43 registered a total of 70 bait stations. Permit holders were allowed to register up to two bait stations apiece.

Fish and Game officials aren’t sure how many permit holders actually hunted or put out bait.

“If we issued 111 permits and only three people went out and hunted and two bears were taken, that’s a pretty high success rate,” said agency spokeswoman Cathie Harms. “If a whole bunch of people went out and only took two bears, we may have to re-evaluate it.”

Associated Press

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