The following press release is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Alaska Region:
Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that four Point Hope residents were sentenced in United States Magistrate Court in Fairbanks, for charges stemming from their involvement in the illegal taking of walruses near Cape Lisburne, Alaska in September of 2015. The court accepted sentencing recommendations from the tribal government, Native Village of Point Hope, with concurrence of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of Law Enforcement for the Alaska Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Adam T. Sage, 24, Michael R. Tuzroyluk Jr., 21, Guy S. Tuzroyluk, 27, and Jacob Lane, 24 residents of Point Hope, Alaska pleaded guilty in federal court in Fairbanks, Alaska for violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The men were charged for two separate 2015 incidents at Cape Lisburne, Alaska, on the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, in which several walruses were shot and only the ivory was salvaged. In addition, the actions of the men caused stampedes which killed or injured up to two dozen or more additional walruses.
The Office of Law Enforcement for the Alaska Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked closely with the Native Village of Point Hope and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fairbanks resolve this case. The sentencing recommendations developed collaboratively by the three parties include each defendant paying $1000 restitution to be used for walrus conservation projects on Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, 500 hours community service in Point Hope, apologizing in public to the Native Village of Point Hope and the Point Hope whaling captains, hunting for Point Hope elders subsistence needs, and a restriction on walrus hunting for one year. The defendants are on federal probation for three years, and must complete the above tasks as well as comply with the standard conditions of federal probation.
“The Native Village of Point Hope tribal government considers this a serious offense to our cultural way of life and we are pleased our recommendations have been accepted,” said James Nash, Tribal Council President.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commends its law enforcement and conservation partners in aiding with this investigation and prosecution. The village of Point Hope has a long tradition of subsistence hunting and fishing and plays an important leadership role in stewardship of our Pacific walrus in Alaska,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge, Ryan Noel. “We are pleased with the sentence developed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Tribe and are hopeful that it will deter future disturbances to sensitive walrus haulouts.
“The probationary sentence in this case, specifically the jointly recommended special conditions of probation, represent a unique and culturally informed resolution to serious marine mammal violations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Schroder. “It is appropriate to work with the Native Village of Point Hope and its Council to further the goals of resource protection on which the applicable laws are grounded.”
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Marine Mammals Management Office, the North Slope Borough Police Department, the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management, the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General Digital Forensic Lab, and the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska.