A National Park Service employee who runs a hunting guide business on the side has been fined $7,000 and placed on probation for conducting a moose hunt in Denali National Park and Preserve.
Annette M. Keith, who works as an administrative clerk in Denali, was placed on probation for three years and also lost her guiding privileges for three years and hunting privileges for two years, according to a release from the park. The Healy, Alaska, resident was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Oravec last week after entering guilty pleas to three charges stemming from the moose hunt, which occurred in September 2007, park officials said.
The $7,000 fine was built on a $2,000 fine for illegal hunting in the park, a $2,000 fine for off-road vehicle travel, and a $3,000 fine for operating a business within the park without a permit, park officials said.
Park Service officials did not identify Ms. Keith as a park employee when they issued the news release, saying today that that "wasn't relevant to the hunting case." The woman, who was guiding during her annual leave from the park, remains on Denali's payroll, they said.
At the time of the crime, Ms. Keith was the co-owner of Healy-based Castle Rock Outfitters and a state-licensed assistant guide, the park's release said. She and her brother-in-law, William J. Keith, were guiding a client from Florida who paid $9,250 for a moose hunt, the officials said.
A Denali ranger conducting a joint aerial patrol with an Alaska Wildlife Trooper spotted the three more than two miles inside the park boundary north of 8 Mile Lake off the Stampede Road The hunters had illegally driven two ATV’s to within a quarter-mile of an unusual congregation of 26 moose, which were visible to them on the ground, according to park officials.
The ranger and trooper were patrolling in a helicopter, so they were able to land right next to the hunting party before the client had an opportunity to shoot a 60-inch bull that the party was targeting. A search warrant subsequently executed at the office/residence of Castle Rock Outfitters resulted in the seizure of additional evidence in the case. The client, who was unaware of the illegal nature of the hunt, cooperated fully with the investigation and was not charged.
According to Denali Chief Ranger Pete Armington, the park will continue joint operations with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers in certain areas. “By combining efforts and resources, both agencies can do a more effective job of enforcing hunting regulations both inside the park and on adjacent state lands," he said.