A game camera captured footage of two men illegally shooting a sow black bear and two cubs in their den and then attempting to cover it up, according to a Wednesday dispatch from Alaska Wildlife Troopers.
What the men didn’t seem to realize: The bears were being monitored on video and audio as a part of aU.S. Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game study.
Police say that video shows the men shooting the sow, killing “the shrieking newborn bear cubs” and discarding their bodies. The incident happened on Esther Island in Prince William Sound on April 14.
Andrew Renner, 41, and Owen Renner, 18 – both of Palmer, Alaska – face felony and misdemeanor charges related to the incident.
Police say the men returned to the scene to dispose of the cubs’ bodies and pick up spent shells. Andrew Renner reported the harvest of the sow but told authorities that no cubs were present, police say.
The Humane Society of the United States has condemned the shooting: “There isn’t enough outrage in the world to cover the depravity of this wanton crime, “Kitty Block, acting president and CEO, said in a statement.
The statement claims some lawmakers are working to make “this sort of killing perfectly legal on National Park Service lands in Alaska.”
While black bears can be hunted legally in the region under certain circumstances, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game prohibits harvesting sows with cubs. The practice is “hard on the population and it’s illegal,” according to the department’s black bear hunting guide for the region.
The sow that was shot was among 20 being studied following concerns of declining black bear numbers in the area, according a report from the Anchorage Daily News.
The men charged are father and son; Owen was 17 years old when the incident occurred, according to the publication.
After shooting the cubs, Andrew Renner said, “It doesn’t matter. Bear down,” according to court records cited by the Daily News.
This article was first published by USA Today.
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