When a father-and-son searching pair from Alaska poached a black bear mom and her two new child cubs in their den final yr, they initially appeared to get away with it.
There was little likelihood for witnesses on a distant island off Alaska’s southern coast. The hunters traveled there by boat, strapping on backcountry skis to achieve the bear den. But a motion-activated digital camera, getting used for wildlife analysis, captured the hunters’ actions on the island, the authorities mentioned.
This week, after pleading responsible to numerous poaching fees, the daddy, Andrew Renner, a 41-year-old from Wasilla, Alaska, was sentenced to 3 months in jail and barred from trying to find a decade, mentioned Aaron Peterson, the state’s assistant legal professional normal, who prosecuted the case. His son Owen Renner, 18, acquired a 30-day suspended sentence and was required to carry out group service.
Based on state regulation, killing a mom bear or bear cubs is a criminal offense. But Mr. Peterson mentioned that defendants in poaching instances not often get jail time. That’s as a result of hunters usually argue that they poached an animal by mistake and usually haven’t any prison file, he mentioned.
In the case of the Renners, nevertheless, Mr. Peterson mentioned in a telephone interview, he felt the crime was so egregious that he requested for jail time.
“What they did in this case was shoot two newborn bear cubs who couldn’t escape,” he mentioned. “They had no way of getting out of that den. They were completely at the mercy of the Renners.”
Based on the digital camera footage, which was summarized by prosecutors in a news release, Andrew Renner and his son approached the den on Esther Island, in Prince William Sound, on April 14. Owen Renner fatally shot the sleeping mother bear with a rifle, prosecutors said, causing the cubs to start shrieking inside the den.
Andrew Renner then fatally shot the cubs.
Prosecutors said the recovered video footage showed the Renners butchering the mother bear and taking the remains away in bags. Two days later, the camera caught them returning to the area to collect the bullet shells and dispose of the bear cubs’ bodies, according to a report from Alaska’s Department of Public Safety.
Andrew Renner’s lawyer declined to comment. His son’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Because the mother bear was being studied by the United States Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, she wore a GPS-enabled collar. About two weeks after the Renners shot the bear family, Andrew Renner took that collar and the mother bear’s skin to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game site, claiming that he had mistakenly shot her and did not realize she was a mother until he noticed she had teats, the Department of Public Safety report said. He also claimed that there were no cubs in the den.
It was not until August that the Renners were charged with poaching, according to the report.
Charlotte Westing, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who runs the black bear study, said the cameras were installed to keep researchers apprised of whether the bears have cubs.
According to a report on the black bear study published this month, the researchers have placed collars on about four dozen black bears on two islands in Prince William Sound. The collar logs geographical positioning every five hours, providing a detailed map of the area that the bears traverse.
By chance, a camera captured a crime that is often not brought to light because the forest provides cover. “What happens in the woods is often just between the person and their actions,” Ms. Westing said.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game allows hunting of bears and bear cubs that are hibernating in their dens on limited state and federal lands where it is deemed a “customary and traditional practice.” That tactic has been long opposed by many conservationists and animal rights activists.
Both the father and the son pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor charges related to the poaching, Mr. Peterson said. Andrew Renner also pleaded guilty to falsifying documentation related to the bear killings.
In addition to setting the three-month jail sentence, an Alaska District Court judge fined Andrew Renner $9,000 and ordered that he must forfeit his boat, pickup truck, guns, iPhones and skis, prosecutors said. Owen Renner’s hunting license will be suspended for two years.
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