The video below shows a disgusting crime by an Alaskan father and son who killed a hibernating mother bear and her two cubs in their den on Esther Island on Prince William Sound. Last April, Andrew and Owen Renner were captured on tape as they killed the sleeping bears. Andrew, 41, and Owen, 18, are heard shooting the mother first in their den at the base of a tree as the cubs are heard crying out before they then killed by the two poachers.
This crime was caught by a camera that is part of a wildlife study. Otherwise, it is doubtful that these two would have been held accountable. Indeed, they pose with their kills and can be heard saying “They’ll never be able to link it to us, I don’t think.” They later returned to remove the bodies of the cubs and evidence such as their shell casings.
Andrew received three months in jail while Owen received 30 days of suspended time for the offense. They were also hit with a fine of $1,800 each and the father also owes an additional $9,000 fine, according to the Anchorage Daily News. While most of us would view that as ridiculously too low of a sentence, it is actually on the high end for such wildlife violations in Alaska and other states. Indeed, the most important aspect of this story is that, while illegal in this area, it is not illegal in other areas of Alaska to kill a mother bear and her cubs.
Note also that the father was convicted of eight counts on the killing and transportation offenses as well as the falsifying of the sealing certificate. However, he will be able to get a hunting license again in 10 years and his son will be able to get a hunting license in just two years.
This is a relatively rare prosecution and should highlight the need for tougher criminal penalties and a ban on killing hibernating animals and mothers with young cubs at a minimum.