Alaska Man Charged With Illegally Shooting Polar Bear

Polar bears are longtime cohabitants in the northern region of Alaska, so locals have to share these isolated areas with the majestic but fierce predators. Unfortunately, last week a man was charged with killing a bear and  abandoning the carcass in a small coastal village.

Here’s the release from the Alaska Department of Justice:

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that Christopher L. Gordon, 35, of Kaktovik, Alaska, has been federally charged for knowingly taking a polar bear in a manner unlawful under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, by shooting and killing the polar bear and leaving the harvestable remains to waste.  Gordon has been charged in Fairbanks with one count of wasteful taking of a marine mammal.

According to the charging document, on Dec. 20, 2018, near the village of Kaktovik, Gordon allegedly left butchered whale meat outside in the front yard of his residence for a substantial period of time, which attracted a polar bear and other animals to his front yard.  Gordon then allegedly shot and killed the polar bear because it was trying to eat the improperly stored whale meat; the shooting was not done in self-defense.   

Between Dec. 20, 2018, and May 22, 2019, Gordon allegedly left the polar bear carcass in his front yard without salvaging any portion of the polar bear and allowing it to become covered with snow.  This caused a snow removal vehicle to move the polar bear carcass and rip off one of its legs.  On May 22, 2019, Gordon caused the polar bear carcass to be discarded and burned in the Kaktovik dump without using any of its parts for subsistence purposes. 

If convicted, Gordon faces up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan D. Tansey.

The charges in the information are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

KTOO Public Media also had a report:

Some residents of Kaktovik have been voicing concerns about their ability to protect themselves from the encroaching polar bears.

“The bear’s underneath my house in the morning when I go to work,” Mike Gallagher, a city council member, said at a public meeting last month. “Would it be your kid? Would it be my kid? It could be anybody down the street. These bears are getting used to people. They’re domesticated.”