Arizona hunter Peter Amador was a winner in the 2010 Alaska big-game lottery who ended up a big loser. First, his Nelchina Basin moose hunt proved wet and unsuccessful, and now Alaska Wildlife Troopers have charged him with a crime.
Amador, troopers say, failed to report his lack of success to the proper authorities after last fall's hunt. In the 49th state, that's a violation of the law. Better yet, it's an easy way for the state to collect $110. Troopers, a state press release said, cited "Amador, age 57 of Phoenix, Ariz., for failing to submit a hunt report on his 2010 DM (drawing moose) drawing permit. Bail was set at $110 in the Glennallen District Court.''
Amador was back at work in Phoenix on May 2 when this all happened. He is a project manager for Brown and Caldwell, an engineering and construction firm heavily into wastewater treatment and other environmentally related projects. Reached by telephone in Phoenix on Tuesday, Amador was as yet unaware he was a wanted man in Alaska.
Failure to submit a hunt report is what the state of Alaska calls a "bailable offense,'' meaning one can pay a ticket and be done with it. There is likely a ticket to Amador somewhere in the mail.
"A ticket for what?'' asked Amador, who said he was unaware of the requirement that calls for a hunter to fill out a report if unsuccessful. "I didn't know that,'' he said.
Many hunters don't. That's why the Alaska Department of Fish and Game usually sends out notices warning people they need to submit their hunt report cards or face a possible fine. Amador did not remember getting such a warning, and it's possible he didn't.
"In regulation, it is not required for us to send out any notification,'' said Cindy Gardner of Fish and Game, though a warning is generally "part of the process. They may also receive an e-mail in addition to a letter.''
Amador seemed a little baffled by all of this. He was aware of the reporting requirements for Alaska drawing hunts, but thought reporting was only required of successful hunters. Apparently so, too, for 51-year-old Alan Cantley from Wright, Wyo., and 40-year-old Maurice Martinez from Las Vegas, who were charged in the Glennallen court on the same day as Amador.
It is unclear whether Cantley and Martinez even came to Alaska to hunt after winning permits in the state drawing lottery, but even if they stayed home, they are required by law to report their lack of success. Dale Rabe, the regional widlife supervisor overseeing the Nelchina Basin where this drawing hunt took place, said the state needs the information on hunter success for management purposes.
"That's how we monitor harvests and determine we're not over harvesting the population,'' he said. "It's a key piece of information.''
Then again, he admitted, it's also just one piece of information from a roughly 8,000-square-mile area in which wolves, bears and weather each year kill far more moose than hunters. That's why Fish and Game also conducts aerial surveys of moose herds to try to get a handle on population size before establishing hunts.
The law, however, is the law, and Amador and the other outside hunters broke it, which gives the state the right to fine them. It's sort of like getting nabbed in a classic, small-town speed trap in the South. Amador + Cantley + Martinez = $330 for the state of Alaska.
Amador, for his part, said he's not holding it against Alaska. He said he loves the 49th state.
"I've been up there five times,'' he said, "but this was the first time hunting. I was there 10 days. The first four days it was raining so hard we went down and fished at Homer.''
When the rain let up a little, he and his hunting companions headed for the Lake Louise area north of Anchorage along the Glenn Highway to look for the bull moose of his dreams. They never saw one.
"We did hunt,'' he said, "but we didn't get anything. We saw a couple females, but that was it. Even the locals we talked to weren't get anything.'' Still, he doesn't regret the trip. "I had a beautiful time."
And he should soon be getting a reminder of it all in the mail from the troopers. This could be thought of as a unique kind of "trophy.''
"Most places if you don't get anything, you don't get anything,'' Amador said. Alaska, however, is not most places.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com.
(This story was edited after original publication to clarify that Wildlife Troopers themselves do not get to keep the money collected from writing tickets.)