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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 21, 2014

Fairbanks Moose Hunter Sentenced for Federal Violation

Anchorage, Alaska-U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a Fairbanks resident was sentenced in United States Magistrate’s Court in Fairbanks, for charges stemming from his involvement in the illegal taking of a moose and the subsequent shipping of the moose antlers out of Alaska.

Leslie P. Zerbe, 67, of Fairbanks, Alaska, pled guilty to the charge of Interstate Transport of Unlawfully Taken and Possessed Wildlife, a misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act.  Sentence was entered the same day, requiring Zerbe pay a $10,000 fine. The court also ordered Zerbe not to hunt for a period of two years, and not to be with anyone who is hunting or to support or assist anyone hunting during that period.

According to the plea agreement, Zerbe and a friend from Michigan hunted and took a moose in the Ferry Trail Management Area of Game Management Unit 20A in 2009.  Alaska law prohibits taking a moose in that area unless the antlers are at least 50 inches wide or, regardless of width, have at least four brow tines on one side.  The moose taken by Zerbe and the Michigan hunter had antlers just over 42 inches wide with only three brow tines on each side, and was therefore illegal under state law.  Zerbe was aware of the restriction.  He acknowledged he had previously hunted in that area for several years and had a wilderness cabin less than two miles from the kill site.  Because the kill violated state law, Zerbe violated federal law by shipping the antlers of the moose from Alaska to the friend in Michigan.

The investigation was initiated by the Alaska State Troopers in 2009, but later referred to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service due to the federal violations.  Federal agents obtained the antlers and also located the kill site where they collected additional evidence conclusively linking the antlers to that site.  

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to protecting America’s wildlife resources.  The sentence imposed by the court sends a message that such violations of wildlife law will be not be tolerated,” said Ryan Noel, the acting Special Agent in Charge of the United States Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Office for Alaska.

“Federal law enforcement works closely with state authorities to protect and preserve the wildlife resources of Alaska.  The evidence in this case showed that the defendant violated federal law when he shipped the antlers of an under-sized and illegally hunted moose to Michigan,” said Kevin Feldis, Chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ms. Loeffler commends the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement for their efforts in this case.

Updated February 9, 2015