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'Senseless' shooting of Alaska moose and calf left to rot criticized in Bethel

Craig Medred

BETHEL -- Hard to believe in food-short Western Alaska, but the May 8 edition of The Delta Discovery in Bethel featured a photograph of a moose and calf killed and abandoned along the Kuskokwim River northeast of the community of about 6,000.

The photo was supplied by Harry Faulkner Jr., who submitted a letter to the editor of the local newspaper saying he and his wife were on a snowmachine trip upriver when "we ran smack dab into a sad sight of the senseless kind.

"There on the riverbank above Kalskag (a village of 210 people about 350 miles west of Anchorage) lay a dead cow and calf moose shot dead and left to rot.'' 

Faulkner then shared an opinion likely felt by all Alaskans -- sport, subsistence and trophy hunters as well as non-hunters.

"My first thought was, and still is, pure anger at the person that would do this to our primary meat source. This made no sense to me."

Moose are not abundant along the Kusko, in part because of past overhunting. There have been tight restrictions on hunting in an effort to boost the numbers. A hunter for 40 years on the deltas of the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers, Faulkner noted he personally had "hunted the lower Yukon for the past six years to comply with the much-needed (hunt) moratorium."

He wondered if Kusko moose populations will ever recover if random shootings like this continue to take place.

Law enforcement authorities investigate most of these wanton shootings of wildlife in Alaska, but charges are rarely brought because it’s difficult to identify the shooters.

Faulkner wrote that he suspects "this crime was committed by a young punk (on a) joyride that has no respect for the food chain and was not raised properly."

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com