It was announced by U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler of the U.S. Justice Department that Montana resident Jason J. Kummerfeldt, a former employee and guide with Fair Chase Hunts was sentenced in U.S. District Court on charges of Unlawfully Providing Guiding Services for the Illegal taking of a Caribou in August of 2009. According to the DOJ statement, Kummerfeldt pleaded “Guilty” to a violation of the Lacey Act for sale of Unlawfully Taken and Possessed Wildlife.
It was shown in court that Kummerfeldt guided a client in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as the client shot and transported a bull caribou knowing that that client did no have a non-resident locking tag and did not report the violation. It was pointed out in the court proceedings that Kummerfeldt assisted the hunter in stalking the caribou, authorized the kill shot, then helped the hunter to transport his illegally killed caribou back to camp.
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.
According to the Department off Justice, the “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.”
In one high-profile case involving Fair Chase Hunts, 40-year-old Mark Peyerk and his mother 66-year-old Charlotte Peyerk took an illegal Grizzly Bear before the season was open in 2009. The mother and son had admitted in their plea agreements that they, along with their guides agreed that they should take the bear the day before the season opened in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. When a photo was taken of the kill, the photos date indicator was altered to make it look as if the kill was made on the opening day of the season. They also falsified the date of kill on a State of Alaska record and on a Safari Club International trophy entry form.
In addition to a fine of $20,000 each and another $15,000 paid in community service payments to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation each defendant was required to write a public letter of apology to the Safari Club International for their submittal of a fraudulent entry. The Safari Club had given Ms. Peyerk the “Diana Award” for “ethics in hunting,” she was ordered by the court to return the award.
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.”