WARNING: Graphic content
Disturbing footage of a father-and-son hunting duo’s “trophy hunt” of a hibernating mother bear and her newborn cubs has been released after a Humane Society public records request.
The father and son, Andrew and Owen Renner, had travelled last April to the isolated Alaskan island by boat and trekked on skis to find the black bears. The footage, which until this week had only been described in a news release, shows the men approach a bear den and fire shots inside. The motion-activated camera set up for research by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game captured the shrieks of the newborn cubs as the men repeatedly fire shots.
“You and me don’t f*** around. We go where we want to kill,” the son is heard saying in the video. “They’ll never be able to link it to us I don’t think.”
They eventually drag the dead mother bear out of the den and take pictures with the body. Owen, 18, is seen raising one of its paws in the air to pose for the photo. The cameras later captured the men returning to the site two days after the kill in efforts to cover up evidence. They are seen collecting bullet casings and stuffing the bodies of the bear cubs in a bag. The father later falsified paperwork to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, claiming it was a legal kill.
In August, the pair were hit with several misdemeanour charges for the poaching. In January, Andrew, 41, was sentenced to three months in jail, banned from hunting for a decade, fined US$9,000 and ordered to forfeit his boat, pickup truck, guns, iPhones and skis. Owen received a 30-day suspended sentence, was ordered to complete community service and take a hunters safety course. Both were fined $1,800 restitution for killing black bears.
“This explosive footage of the Renners’ misdeeds offers a preview of what could happen to Alaska’s bears – and other wildlife – if a rule that allows cruel methods of hunting black bears and other carnivores on National Preserve lands in Alaska goes into effect,” wrote Kitty Block, President of Humane Society International, and Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, in a post online.
The rule referred to is a proposed change in legislation for sport hunting and trapping on national preserves in Alaska. The father-and-son trophy hunt would have been permitted in different areas of the state.