Hunter cited for State Parks violation


November 21, 2019

Last week, a hunter was cited for shooting a bear—not for the bear itself, but because of where he shot it.

On Nov. 11, Alaska State Parks ranger Travis Russell ticketed a hunter for violating Alaska Administrative Code when his grandson shot a brown bear within a half mile of a “developed facility.”

The bear was shot from the sidewalk at 20.5 Mile, attached to the parking lot, information kiosk and boat ramp in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.

“To my knowledge it’s never been illegal to shoot a bear up there,” the hunter said. “I took my grandson on a hunt and he got his first bear up there and it became a huge issue.” The man said he intends to pay the $150 fine.

“The only thing illegal was from where the shot was taken,” Russell said. “From a fish and game standpoint that bear was taken legally.” The man was a licensed hunter who allowed his grandson, a minor, to shoot the bear.

According to the code the Alaska Division State Parks uses to govern their land, the shot was a violation of a use of a weapon. “The use and discharge of weapons for the purpose of lawful hunting or trapping is allowed in the preserve, except within one-half mile of a developed facility.”

A developed facility is defined as a boat ramp, campground, picnic area, rest area, visitor’s information center, swim beach, trailhead, building, parking area or developed ski area.

The regulation is aimed at public safety, Russell said. “How people chose to hunt and the method they choose to do it, that is the hunter’s discretion,” he added.

Visiting photographers and local guides were disturbed by the hunt, which occurred in a well trafficked area.

“They are frustrated about the image of it,” Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Carl Koch said. “People have been calling to say that there’s a carcass on the side of the river and it’s high profile.”

According to eyewitnesses who were out at 21 Mile to photograph the bald eagles during the peak of their migration to the Chilkat Valley, the skinned bear carcass was left out on the flats to be feasted on by other wildlife.

“It did definitely impact photographers,” said naturalist guide Judy Jacobson, who led two photo tours at 21 Mile that week. “It attracted eagles from all over to that one spot and it wasn’t very natural looking photos. All of my photo workshops were disappointed that week. One person said ‘I can’t even show this to my wife and daughter because they’re vegans.’”

In Alaska, it’s illegal to shoot “on, from, or across a drivable surface, or any constructed road or highway,” according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game handbook. Had the shot been more than a half mile away from a developed facility in the bald eagle preserve, or away from a road anywhere else in the state, Russell said there would have been no violation.

Seventy-five brown bear permits have been issued to hunters in Haines. As of Tuesday, four female and five male bears had been reported to hunt officials since the season opening on Sept. 15.


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