Oct 08 2009 -
The News Of Anchorage
A Kenai National Wildlife Refuge enforcement officer has cited one of two hunters who shot a bear in front of people who had been taking pictures as it fished in the Kenai River, next to the Sterling Highway bridge.
A little known law prohibits discharging a firearm within a quarter-mile of either side along that section of this highway because of high public use. The citation carries a maximum $150 fine.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is still investigating the hunter, but the Alaska state troopers who were at the scene of the "bear jam" on the highway said they are not investigating because no state laws were broken.
Larry Lewis, a state wildlife technician, notified the Kenai refuge of the possible weapons violation after one of the hunters brought the bear to Fish and Game for sealing, a process in which the state collects information on the hunt and takes measurements of the skull and takes a tooth for aging.
Lewis who is also the Kenai Peninsula chapter president of Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group, and says hunters need to act responsibly around wildlife watchers. "It's incumbent on anyone who participates in hunting to be respectful of other people's values," he said.
Rod Arno, executive director of the Alaska Outdoors Council, a statewide sportsmen's group, said it is unfortunate that the wildlife watchers had to witness the shooting. He said he avoids hunting next to roads, but there are other hunters who gravitate to roads because they cannot afford to travel to remote areas. "The burden does fall on hunters to use their discretion, but not all hunters consider the negative publicity" from shooting an animal in public view.