19. March 2015 13:59
Every hunter is responsible for their bullet. This means that as the trigger is pulled the hunter must know as best as possible that the game to be taken is legal. This is the hunters’ responsibility both ethically and legally. Occasionally, a hunter does not follow this rule and takes an animal that is not legal. What can the hunter do if this happens?
Under general sport hunting or trapping regulations in Alaska, there is no law that requires that a person taking game unlawfully turn themselves in. The ethical hunter will consider this option, but may not know how to go about accomplishing this without placing themselves in a situation that could result in severe punishment. When game is taken illegally, it instantly places an otherwise law abiding citizen in the situation of possibly having a criminal record.
Self turn-in’s account for a portion of wildlife cases each year where animals have been taken unlawfully. By turning yourself into the Wildlife Troopers you are taking ownership of your mistake and assuring that you will be dealt with differently than if a Trooper discovered the violation on their own.
The following are the steps to take if you find yourself in a situation where you have taken game illegally:
As soon as possible after realizing that the game is not legal, contact your local office of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers. Advise them of your situation and your location.
Salvage all the edible meat of the animal per salvage regulations. The Alaska Wildlife Troopers will tell you where to take the animal.
- Keep the meat in the best condition possible. This may mean that you will need to come out of the field to save the meat from spoiling.
What will happen once you turn yourself in?
When you turn yourself in, you can expect that a Trooper will speak to you about your hunt and ask you questions about how you took the animal. The meat and the antlers or horns will be seized. According to Alaska law, animals taken unlawfully are the property of the state. The meat will be donated to a charitable organization or retained as evidence. Alaska Wildlife Troopers will retain the horns or antlers until instructed by the court. You will likely receive a citation for taking the animal illegally; however you will receive a substantially lower fine amount than if you had not turned yourself in. In most situations, Alaska Wildlife Troopers will recommend to the Judge that the fine be consistent with other areas of the state for self turn-in’s and we will recommend that it be resolved as a “violation” offence.
Hunters who decide to not turn themselves in risk being discovered by Wildlife Troopers sometime in the future. Please consider your actions carefully after you take an animal unlawfully in Alaska. Your next decision may be the one that gets you back on the right track.
Article Submitted By: Captain Bernard Chastain
Operations Commander, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Anchorage