“They’ll never be able to link it to us,” Andrew Renner said, along with, “It doesn’t matter. Bear down,” as he and his son, Owen, gunned down a mother bear and her newborn cubs who were sleeping in their den on Esther Island, Alaska. But authorities did link it to them, thanks to a wildlife camera.
The bears were part of a wildlife study, and there was a motion-activated camera at their den. The mother was also wearing a tracking collar. The camera caught the men spotting the bears sleeping in their den and Owen shouldering a gun and firing two shots into the mother. Upon seeing their mother shot to death in front of them, the cubs “began shrieking in the den,” prosecutors said. Andrew moved closer and fired at the babies until they, too, were dead.
With irrefutable evidence against them, both men took a plea deal and were convicted on several charges related to crimes against wildlife. Owen was sentenced to pay a fine of $1,800, serve 30 days of suspended jail time, perform community service, and lose his hunting license for two years.
In addition to an $1,800 fine, Andrew must also pay $9,000, serve three months in prison, lose his hunting license for 10 years, and forfeit the property that authorities confiscated from him that was used in the killings, including a Sea Sport ocean boat and trailer, a 2012 GMC Sierra truck, two rifles, two handguns, two iPhones, and two sets of skis.
PETA sent a letter to Alaska District Court Judge Pamela S. Washington, who sentenced the men, respectfully suggesting that she amend their sentences to include mandatory viewings of the Joaquin Phoenix–narrated documentary Earthlings.
Meanwhile, in Anchorage, Alaska, three other hunters have also been sentenced for crimes against wildlife, including poisoning wolves and operating an illegal bear-baiting station.
Casey Richardson, Dale Lackner, and Jeffrey Harris all worked at Fairbanks, Alaska, hunting guide Urban Rahoi’s lodge. Investigators say that Rahoi purchased 14 pounds of the artificial sweetener xylitol and that Richardson put it into rabbit carcasses in order to poison wolves. Hunters often seek to kill any “predators” who survive by eating the animals the hunters themselves want to kill. By eliminating wolves, Rahoi and his workers could ensure more targets for the lodge members to shoot.
Rahoi was cited for operating an illegal bear-baiting station in a national preserve. He paid $4,900 to the National Park Foundation, surrendered his guide-outfitter license, and agreed not to apply for another one.
Richardson, Lackner, and Harris were ordered to pay fines ranging from $6,000 to $26,000, Lackner was ordered to serve six months of home confinement, and Richardson and Harris were ordered to serve three months in a halfway house followed by three months of home confinement. In addition, all three men will have a five-year probation period during which they’ll be banned from hunting.
While PETA applauds prosecutors for ensuring that these men will be punished to the fullest extent of the law, no punishment can undo the torment that their victims endured.
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