November 16, 2013


JIm West, star of the Alaska reality television show “Wild West Alaska,” finds himself in trouble with state wildlife authorities with their own reality TV show to promote — “Alaska State Troopers.”

West has been charged with 17 hunting violations, including trespassing on Alaska Native lands while guiding a black bear hunt. His attorney has questioned whether troopers might have busted him to boost their TV ratings.

In 2011, authorities say, a Glennallen-based Alaska State Wildlife Trooper was tipped that West might be hunting bear at bait stations located on private lands owned by Ahtna Inc.

An investigation led to illegal acts dating back to 2009, according to troopers.

Troopers allege that West, while working as a big game guide that year, unlawfully guided a hunt on federal lands within the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. It is legal to hunt in the preserve portion of the 13.2-million-acre federal reserve bigger than the nation of Switzerland, but authorities say West lacked the necessary concession permit to guide hunts there.

Then in 2011, and again in 2012, they charged that he trespassed on the Native-owned lands within the Cooper River Valley while guiding black bear hunters. West was at one of his registered bear bait sites, illegally placed on private lands, when a client killed a black bear, according to authorities. That is a violation of state guiding statutes, as is the failure to remove bear bait stations at the end of the hunting season.
Authorities claim West failed to do that.

West faces a total of 17 charges in connection with various bear hunts. The charges were filed Thursday in Glennallen District Court. They include accusations of hunting on private land, taking game with a client in the field and making false statements on a bear-sealing certificate.

Many of the charges carry a maximum penalty of a year in jail. Fines can go up to $30,000 on some counts, but it is virtually unheard of for anyone to get hit with maximum penalties in an illegal hunting case in Alaska.

Worse than the threat of fines and jail might be the seizure of West’s Cessna 185 single-engine airplane. Most such planes are worth upwards of $100,000, and Cole said the seizure of West’s plane happened in August, just days before he planned to use the aircraft for hunting and his TV show.


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
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