A seven year investigation of a hunting guide allegedly revealed illegal tactics used to lure bears close to hunters so they would have clear and close shots. Simply put, this tactic is known as bear-baiting and it is illegal. In order to draw bears close enough for hunters to shoot them, he allegedly shot and killed moose from an airplane and left the moose carcasses to rot. Over the last seven years he may have shot 18 moose, or at least that is the number investigated by Alaska wildlife troopers.
The guide ran his business out of the Newhalen Lodge (southwest Alaska), so hunters could arrange to visit the area and shoot grizzly bears. It was reported that over the last 11 years he “successfully” guided 26 bear hunts. If it is true the bears were lured illegally, then the shooting of those 26 bears was not really hunting. It was just shooting bears at close range. The hunting guide was actually charged with 30 counts of wildlife violations.
He was caught because tips had been called in by members of the public who said they had seen a plane circling an area and heard shots fired. Around the same time a grizzly bear carcass was found in the area, and it had been skinned. Authorities obtained a warrant and installed surveillance equipment on the guide’s plane. They gathered enough data from their electronic stakeout to pursue an arrest. They also used the data to secretly observe the guide’s actions in the field.
If the guide is convicted he could spend seven days in jail. The potential fines are stiffer – $2,500 for each count of wanton waste. Wasting of animal meat is a big issue in the region because many people there depend upon hunting wild game for food. (Of course killing animals in the alleged manner is an issue everywhere.) His plane could also be confiscated and his hunting and guide licenses might be revoked.
Residents of Alaska can buy a permit to hunt grizzly bears for $25. For non-residents the price is $500. For out-of-state hunters, perhaps luring bears closer was appealing to them, since they invest quite a bit of money to kill the grizzly bears. Though it has not been reported yet if the hunters the guide “arranged” bears to be shot by were aware of the illegal tactics that were being used.
Image Credit: Albino Muppet