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Snowmobiler Kills Dog Competing In Iditarod; Attack Apparently Intentional

Aliy Zirkle handles her dogs during a rest in Galena along the Yukon River, her last stop before heading towards Nulato. Late in the night, as she approached Nulato, Zirkle was attacked by a snowmobiler a few miles outside the small community.

One dog has been killed and multiple dogs have been injured by a snowmobiler in what appears to be an intentional attack on competitors in the Iditarod Race in Alaska.

Iditarod veteran Aliy Zirkle was the first to report an attack.

A snowmachiner had "repeatedly attempted to harm her and her team," the Iditarod Trail Committee says, and one of Zirkle's dogs had received a non-life-threatening injury.

Zirkle reported the attack when she arrived in Nulato, Alaska, in the wee hours of the morning, and race officials and law enforcement were notified.

Then Jeff King, a four-time Iditarod champion who was behind Zirkle, reported a similar encounter.

King's team was hit by a snowmobiler, injuring several dogs and killing one — Nash, a 3-year-old male.

Reporter Emily Schwing tells our Newscast unit that King's sled has lights and reflectors.

"It really felt like reckless bravado and playing chicken," King told Emily.

Zachariah Hughes, a reporter for Alaska Public Media, says that neither King nor Zirkle were injured, according to state troopers.

A suspect has been identified, race officials say, and an investigation has begun.

"Regrettably, this incident very much alters the race of the two mushers competing for a win," the Trail Committee writes. "However, both are going to continue on their way toward Nome."

After a four-hour rest, Zirkle left Nulato — leaving one dog behind — in third place. King is still at the checkpoint as of 1 p.m. Eastern.

Emily says on Twitter that King explained, "I'm not gonna let this schmuck take any more of the fun away."

Alaska State Troopers released a statement saying they've arrested Arnold Demoski, 26 of Nulato. He faces two counts of assault in the third degree, one count of reckless endangerment, one count reckless driving and six counts of criminal Mischief in the fifth degree.

You can find updates on this story, as well as full coverage of the Iditarod race, at Alaska Public Media.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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