Wasilla Resident Pleads Guilty to Possessing Unregistered Silencer and Killing A Moose In Denali National Park
Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that Wasilla resident James C. Riggs plead guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Sharon L. Gleason to possessing an unregistered silencer and for killing a bull moose in Denali National Park in 2012.
The plea arises from charges filed against Riggs, 58, by a federal grand jury, for illegally possessing an unregistered .22 caliber silencer. In a separate matter, Riggs and three other Southcentral Alaska men were charged by the United States Attorney’s Office with a violation of the Lacey Act and other crimes in connection with the take and possession of two bull moose which were illegally taken in Denali National Park in September 2012. As part of his plea agreement, Riggs plead guilty to both charges.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki, the silencer was discovered in Riggs’ home in November 2012, while it was being searched in connection with the Denali moose hunt.
In December 2013, Anchorage residents Charlie W. Hart, 55, and Deric C. Hart, 33, and Homer resident Michael J. Barth, plead guilty to the illegal take and transportation of bull moose from within Denali National Park. In connection with their guilty pleas, all three men were sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah M. Smith, to a term of probation for two years, the payment of $15,000 in restitution to Denali National Park for the two moose illegally taken, a $2500 fine, no hunting for one year, and forfeiture of moose antlers and moose meat as well as one firearm used in the illegal take of a moose.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki, in September 2012, Charles Hart sought, through a third party, permission to moose hunt on a private in-holding of land in the Kantishna area of Denali National Park. Based on Charles Hart’s request, the third-party contacted a landowner who granted permission to Charlie Hart’s party to hunt the inholding on the express condition that only one bull moose be taken, and that the hunt occur within the confines of the private inholding.
In September 2012, Charlie Hart, Derek Hart, James Riggs and another individual traveled the Denali National Park Road to the Kantishna area of Denali National Park to the private inholding. The hunting party obtained appropriate Denali Park Road permits prior to traveling.
During the hunt, all members of the hunt party hunted for bull moose outside the confines of the private inholding and in Denali National Park. While doing so, the party used electronic moose cow calls and hunted the lands well outside the boundary of the inholding, including the mountainsides above the inholding. Using an electronic cow call for hunting is illegal under state law.
On September 3, 2012, Deric Hart, in the company of Michael Barth and another individual, hunted for bull moose outside of the inholding. While hunting outside the property, the group spotted a bull moose a short distance outside the property boundary and/or adjacent to the boundary line, which Deric Hart killed. Thereafter, the hunt party dragged the unlawfully hunted and killed bull moose onto the private inholding by ATV. The bull moose was thereafter field dressed and the antlers removed from the skull. The bull moose’s antlers measured approximately 64 inches.
Two days later, on September 5, 2012, Michael Barth and Derek Hart continued to hunt moose in Denali National Park. On that day, James Riggs was hunting moose outside of the inholding and on another landowner’s property who did not give permission for his land to be hunted. During that day, Riggs shot and killed a bull moose in Denali National Park. Subsequent to killing the bull, Riggs permitted Barth to tag the moose as if he, Barth, had shot and killed the moose. After shooting the second moose, the party illegally used ATV’s and a utility task vehicle (UTV) in a closed off-road vehicle (ORV) area to drag the moose from the location where it fell, in Denali National Park, approximately another one-half mile back to the inholding property for field dressing. The second moose’s antlers measured 65 inches. The following day, the hunt party loaded the meat and antlers of the two unlawfully killed moose into vehicles and transported them to Anchorage. On the way out of Denali National Park, the party was stopped by the National Park Service and questioned. During the questioning, the hunting party lied to a National Park Ranger about the location of the kills, the rifles used to kill the moose and that Barth killed one of the moose when in fact the second moose was killed by James Riggs.
Ms. Loeffler commends the National Park Service, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers for their work in the investigation of this case. Sentencing has been set for August 11, 2014.