August 14, 2013


Two Alaska guides and the Pennsylvania hunter who was their client were charged with misdemeanors for black bear hunting the same day airborne.

Alaska State Troopers say two Matanuska-Susitna big game guides helped an Outside client illegally harvest a black bear during the same day he flew into a hunting camp.

On Aug. 12, troopers received a report of the illegal harvest. Alaska Wildlife Troopers went to a hunting camp on the bank of the Skwentna River, a river that Dena’ina Athabascans have fished and hunted along for centuries.

After arriving at the Skwentna River camp, troopers contacted 26-year-old Brian Babenzien of Willow and 48-year-old Charles Keeter of Wasilla.

The seasoned outdoorsman and his assistant were guiding Pennsylvania resident Paul Kovacs, 54, who was also contacted by troopers. The wildlife troopers’ investigation revealed the guides assisted Kovacs in stalking and harvesting a black bear the same day that Kovacs flew into the camp. It is against Alaska law to hunt or help someone else take big game until 3 a.m. the day after hunters fly in, but the law does not apply if they have flown on a commercial or commuter airplane, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

One of the guides realized hunting regulations had been broken and self-reported the incident to wildlife troopers, said troopers’ spokesperson Beth Ipsen.

In 2011, legendary Alaska hunting guide Joe Hendricks was slapped with 34 felonies for illegal hunting charges. Hendricks’ business guided big-game hunters to trophy Brooks Range sheep and huge Kodiak Island grizzlies for more than four decades before being charged. Hendricks was sentenced last August and was ordered to pay $125,000 and barred from hunting or guiding for 12 years. And one of his assistant guides was punished, too.


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