Probation, Fines For Hunters Who Illegally Took Moose In Denali National Park

Two hunters, one an Alaska resident and the other from the Lower 48, were charged with an illegal moose hunt in Denali National Park. The Justice Department posted the following press release with sentencing as part of a plea deal by the men, which includes four years of probation – with no hunting allowed worldwide during that time – and fines:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Two men were sentenced to four years’ probation for killing a bull moose inside Denali National Park.

According to court documents, on Sept. 20, 2021, Andrew McDonald, 42, of Harrisburg, South Dakota, and Christopher Brumwell, 42, of Anchorage, were hunting in Denali National Park when McDonald shot a bull moose inside the park boundary. Three groups of hunters witnessed the illegal kill and separately reported McDonald’s and Brumwell’s conduct to law enforcement. The defendants spent several hours field dressing the moose to move the skull and a small portion of the meat to a concealed location outside the park boundary. The rest of the meat was left at the kill site for two days, until Park Rangers packed out an additional 76 pounds.

McDonald denied any knowledge of the moose kill when questioned by law enforcement the next day, while Brumwell was out in the field attempting to move the rest of the meat. Witnesses reported that Brumwell denied any knowledge of the kill when they contacted him in the field. Brumwell returned to his camp without moving any more of the meat.

Park rangers directed the men to retrieve the two game bags they moved, along with the remainder of the meat. Two days after the illegal kill, Park Rangers contacted McDonald and Brumwell as they were headed out of the field. The Park Rangers observed the men with the skinned moose skull from the kill site and the two game bags, but the men failed to retrieve the rest of the meat from the kill site as directed.

McDonald was hunting on a non-resident license, and Brumwell was hunting on a resident license.

The court delivered a sentence of four years’ probation and prohibited both defendants from hunting or seeking hunting licenses anywhere in the world for four years. Brumwell is required to pay a fine of $10,000. McDonald will pay a fine of $2,500 and $7,500 in restitution to Denali National Park. When delivering the sentence, the Court emphasized the seriousness of the crime by stating, “I want anyone who is aware of this case to know that this is not a mistake, this is a big deal. … We take this very seriously.”

Moose that aren’t taken through conventional hunting are donated to the Alaska Department of Safety “Roadkill Salvage Program,” which donates the moose meat to participating charities, people and organizations. The average moose yields roughly 500 pounds of meat, but because of the defendants conduct in this case, Rangers were able to salvage and donate only approximately 196 pounds of meat.

“Mr. McDonald and Mr. Brumwell’s actions are an affront to law abiding hunters and Alaskan subsistence living,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “Hunting must be done legally and in accordance with regulations. My office will continue to work with our wildlife law enforcement partners  to ensure that hunting rules and regulations are followed by resident and non-resident hunters.” 

“We are very proud of the work our rangers, special agents, and law enforcement partners accomplished to ensure the successful outcome of this case,” said National Park Service Alaska Regional Director, Sarah Creachbaum. “A special thanks to the local hunters who witnessed the violations and helped out with the case.”

The National Park Service investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ainsley McNerney prosecuted the case.