Video footage has emerged of poachers gunning down a hibernating mother bear and her cubs in Alaska. Cameras had been set up outside its den by the US Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as part of a study.
The footage shows that after the rampage, the men– a father and son – dragged the mother bear outside the den.
“They’ll never be able to link this to us,” the son is heard saying, after which the two celebrate.
Authorities say the pair spotted the government collar on the bear and returned to the scene two days later to cover up the crime. They arrived on skis and took the collar, spent shell casings and the bear cub carcasses in a bag.
The video of the incident was obtained by the Humane Society of the United States through a public records request.
The Epoch Times reported that the incident, although only made public now, happened last year. Since then, the father Andrew Renner, appeared before court and was sentenced to three months in jail while his son, Owen Renner, got a slap on the wrist with just a 30-day suspended sentence and community service. He was 17 at the time of the crime.
The bears were part of a three-year study, started in 2016 in response to concerns about the declining numbers of black bears. It’s not legal to shoot cubs in a den, and there is a legal permit for black bear hunting in the area from September to June. The incident happened in April.
The father was also charged for tampering with physical evidence and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He got a $9,000 fine (£6,900) and items used during the crime were seized. These included two rifles, skis, two handguns, two iPhones, a boat and trailer, and a pickup truck. His hunting licence was revoked for 10-years.
Assistant Attorney-General Aaron Peterson told Anchorage Daily News he had asked for a harsher sentence for Andrew Renner which included a 25 month sentence and a $100,000 fine (£76, 000) fine. However, he said, the sentence handed down was still among the harshest for a non-guided poaching case in Alaska.
“I think that people in the field will think twice about the sentence before doing something like this, but I feel the vast majority of hunters wouldn’t do something like this,” Peterson is quoted as saying.
David Barritt, chief campaigner of Network for Animals (NFA), said a three month jail term for killing the cubs did not reflect the seriousness of the crime. “The punishment is not enough for gunning down a mother and her cubs while they were sleeping. NFA does not feel that justice has been properly meted out. Harsher sentences need to be handed down to deter poachers.”