Assistant Hunting Guide Sentenced for Unlawful Take of Caribou on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a Montana resident was sentenced in U. S. District Court in Fairbanks on Tuesday, on charges that he unlawfully provided guiding services to a hunting client for the illegal taking of a caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Jason J. Kummerfeldt, 45, of Billings, Montana, pled guilty to a violation of the Lacey Act for the sale of unlawfully taken and possessed wildlife. United States Magistrate Judge Scott A. Oravec, in Fairbanks, sentenced Kummerfeldt at the time of his guilty plea. The court ordered Kummerfeldt to pay a $3,000 fine, not to do any big-game guiding or be with anyone guiding in the United States for two years, and not to hunt or be with anyone hunting in the United States for six months. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the fine will be directed to the Lacey Act Reward Account to aid future investigations of fish and wildlife violations. A second count of violating the Lacey Act was dismissed upon the court’s acceptance of the guilty plea. The charges stem from Kummerfeldt’s employment as an Alaska assistant big game guide on commercially-guided hunts in August 2009. His employer, Fair Chase Hunts, was operated within ANWR by Christopher Cassidy and Joe Hendricks.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper, the facts brought out at the court hearing showed that Kummerfeldt guided his client in shooting and transporting a bull caribou before the client had purchased the required non-resident locking tag. As the on-site guide, Kummerfeldt was required to ascertain before the hunt that his client had purchased and possessed the tag, and was also required to report to authorities any known violations of the game laws. At the time he assisted the client in the stalk and authorized the killing shot, Kummerfeldt knew the client did not have the required tag. He failed to report this violation, and he assisted in transporting the animal back to base camp.
Investigation of Fair Chase Hunts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, has thus far led to the successful prosecution of 16 guides, employees, and clients involved in at least 116 documented violations of the Lacey Act, National Wildlife Refuge Act, and Alaska State Law from 2005-2009. Those convicted on pleas of guilty included registered guide Christopher Cassidy, sentenced in June 2011, and master guide Joe Hendricks, sentenced in August 2012. Fines totaled $273,000 in all these cases, in addition to $22,500 in community service or other directed payments. In the same cases the court also imposed a total of 31 years of suspension of hunting and/or guiding privileges, and the forfeiture of four Dall sheep, two grizzly bears, one caribou, and one rifle.
Karen L. Loeffler, U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, noted: “Alaska’s wildlife resources are one of the many wonders that make Alaska special. With our partners at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we are committed to protecting these resources and managing the important goals of access for recreation and hunting and conservation for the future by vigorous enforcement of the applicable laws and regulations.”
Ryan Noel, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement for Alaska said: “The Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to protecting America’s wildlife resources that are at risk from illegal commercialization. The violations uncovered during this investigation are flagrant examples of this illegal commercialization. The sentence imposed by the court sends a message that such violations of wildlife law will not be tolerated.”
Ms. Loeffler commends the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement for Northern Alaska, for the investigation of this case.