Wainwright hunters charged with poaching muskox
Three local hunters from Wainwright have been charged with poaching muskox.
Charges were filed on Sept. 6 in Barrow District Court by the Office of Special Prosecutions, according to an Alaska State Trooper Dispatch.
Thomas Tazruk, 32, Willie Bodfish, 57, and Billy Bodfish, 29, were charged following an investigation by Alaska Wildlife Troopers which started in March of this year.
Troopers looked into allegations of the unlawful taking and wanton waste of three muskoxen near the Nuka River, which connects to the Colville River near its headwaters in the western Brooks Range, a popular hunting area for local residents.
Wildlife troopers found that the three men had "unlawfully killed the three musk-oxen, salvaged a hindquarter from only one of them, and left the rest for use as bait."
As a result, the men were charged with the class A misdemeanors of wanton waste of big game and wildfowl, taking animals without a permit outside the hunting season and bag limit for muskoxen, the unlawful use of game as bait, taking big game with an unlawful firearm, and theft in the third degree for an amount from $250 to $999.
Muskoxen are popular game animals for hunters throughout western and northern Alaska.
Historically, they could be found in northern areas around the world, though they died out in Arctic Alaska by the early 1900s.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, they were reintroduced to what would later become the state in 1930 from a population in East Greenland.
Thirty-four animals were relocated to Nunivak Island, where their numbers grew until there were enough to split the herd and move some to the Seward Peninsula, Cape Thompson, the Nelson Islands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Russia's Wrangel Island.
According to Fish and Game, by the start of this century, there were nearly 4,000 animals in Alaska. However, the herds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and nearby areas have been on the decline over the last few years.