James Baum illegal trafficking in big game - 36 people charged

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Borough

Arthur William Smith illegally importing a jaguar hide, and keeping a stuffed bald eagle; helping another hunter kill an Alaskan brown bear

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Borough

October, 1986
Donna Peet federal firearms violations

Roanoke, VA

December 25, 1986
Arthur William Smith illegally hunting endangered animals in Central America

Roanoke, VA

December 25, 1986
Thomas Fortman taxidermist, caught in black market sting


January 20, 1988
Gary Stoneburner interstate transportation of an illegally killed mountain goat & Alaskan brown bear

Charlottesville, VA

January 29, 1987
Wayne Edwards interstate transportation of a brown bear

Roanoke, VA

January 29, 1987
Leaton L.M. Williams knowingly transporting a wolverine to Virginia from Alaska

Richmond, VA

January 29, 1987
Mark Hayward trafficking in restricted animals, polar bear hides, walrus ivory

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Borough

January 29, 1997
Thomas Troy Lindsey in possession of 7 walrus tusks, walrus & Whale teeth

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Borough

January 29, 1997
Ellen Evak Peneok facilitating the resale of illegal walrus tusks as legitimate Alaska Native handcrafts

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Borough

January 29, 1997
Joseph Lo Monaco possession of walrus skulls & tusks, walrus oosiks for sale

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Borough

January 29, 1997

James Baum

hunting & taking big game, negligently taking a sow with a cub & unlawful possession or transportation of game parts

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Borough

April 24, 1998

State and federal wildlife agents seized dozens of hides, heads and tusks as they closed the net on a sting operation expected to lead to the arrest of three dozen people for illegal trafficking in Alaska big game animals.

Two arrests of Anchorage men were made and more are expected . James Baum was charged with illegal guiding and Mark Hayward was charged with trafficking in restricted animals.

Two aircraft, a Cessna 180 and a Super Cub owned by Baum, have been seized by the state.

R. David Purinton, special agent in charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said a total of 25 people will be charged in Alaska, four in Florida, two in New Jersey, and one each in Washington, Alabama, Minnesota, New Mexico and Colorado.

All of the charges stem from an undercover operation the federal agency operated for 18 months out of a taxidermy shop in Anchorage, Purinton said.

Polar bear hides were traded at the shop for as much as $5,000, he said. Ivory from walrus tusks regularly sold for $35 to $50 per pound. The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal to trade such items except for handicrafts manufactured by Alaska Natives.

According to the court documents, at least some of the transactions at the shop were electronically recorded, and agents bugged at least two of the polar bear rugs they sold.

"This case did not involve one major smuggling ring," Purinton said, but instead traces several small rings and various individuals involved in buying and selling Alaska wildlife.  Purinton said the taxidermy operated legally, but agents working there kept their ears open for illegal activities. "We would then follow up on that," he said.

The name of the taxidermy is being withheld. It is identified in court records only as AKT1. Those records say the shop was run by a taxidermist convicted of wildlife violations in the state of Washington in 1982. He agreed to cooperate with agents in Alaska to set up the sting.

The operation was begun because of persistent rumors of illegal wildlife trafficking, particularly in polar bear pelts and walrus tusks, Purinton said.

As undercover agents expanded their contacts with the underground trade in wild animals, he said, they discovered an illegal trade in bald eagles, hawks, owls, Dall sheep, mountain goats, caribou, moose, grizzly bears, wolves and endangered spotted cats from Africa. Some of the animals are believed to have been taken in Alaska parks.

The willingness of the Anchorage taxidermy to mount illegal animals apparently spread nationwide by word of mouth.  "I have reason to believe there may have been referrals," Purinton said.

Search warrants served in Anchorage resulted in the seizure of at least 17 polar bear hides, several bald eagles or parts, and hundreds of pounds of walrus ivory. Agents also found $28,000 in cash and what Purinton described as "two Mason jars full of white powder" at one residence.  Those jars were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. U.S. Attorney Michael Spaan later said the white powder was cocaine. Drug charges are pending, he said.

By evening only Baum and Hayward had been jailed in connection with the raids, but Purinton said the rest "will be processed in due time."

Hayward was being held on federal charges of trafficking in polar bears and walruses, two animals protected by the Marine Mammal Act. And Baum was being held on 15 different state charges of illegal hunting , including guiding without a license, hunting the same day airborne and selling big game animals.

Baum's arrest marked the first time the state has charged anyone under a new law that makes it a felony to guide big game hunters without a license. Bob Boutang, an investigator with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, said the state had also filed charges against two Australian hunters Baum guided.

Baum had attracted a modest amount of fame in Anchorage earlier this year after he and a fishing partner went public with photographs of two record class rainbow trout, 19 and 271 2 pounds, they caught in Western Alaska. The fish were among the largest rainbows ever taken from freshwater in the state.

Boutang said state agents had been cooperating with federal investigators on the most detailed probe of illegal wildlife trafficking in six years. Boutang said state investigations continue.

George Sura, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said it was impossible to provide a complete list of everything that had been seized by state and federal agents. They were simply too busy, he said. He expected to have at least a partial inventory by this morning.

Update 1/7/87:  Arraignment has been set for Jan. 26 in U.S. District Court for a Virginia man captured in Central America last month and turned over to U.S. authorities on charges of illegally hunting endangered animals.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said that Arthur William Smith of Shenandoah County has waived a hearing in Miami, where he was taken after he was captured in Belize during the Christmas holiday.

Smith, indicted in Roanoke in October, faces eight counts of federal firearm violations and four counts of federal wildlife violations. The wildlife charges include conspiring with an Ohio taxidermist to kill a jaguar and transport the hide to the United States.

Smith also faces misdemeanor charges of possessing a stuffed Alaskan bald eagle in his Virginia home and helping another hunter kill an Alaskan brown bear.   Sorenson said Smith faces similar charges in eastern Virginia, and "also stands to be charged in other districts around the country."  Smith was being held on $500,000 bond in Miami, Sorenson said.

Sorenson said the arraignment might have to be rescheduled if the U.S. Marshals Service has difficulty moving Smith to Roanoke by Jan. 26.  Plans had called for Smith to be brought to Roanoke earlier in the month, but were pushed back because the marshals service requires a minimum of two weeks to transport prisoners, he added.

Sorenson said he does not have reliable information on why Smith was arrested in Belize. He said he thinks the Roanoke charges were discovered when Belize authorities informed the U.S. Embassy of Smith's arrest and the embassy checked its computer crime records.

Smith's companion, Donna Peet, faces a charge involving federal firearms violations and is expected to be arraigned with Smith, Sorenson said.

The taxidermist, Thomas Fortman of St. Mary's, Ohio, pleaded innocent during his arraignment Nov. 7, Sorenson said.  No trial date has been set for Fortman, but Sorenson said he hopes to try Smith, Ms. Peet and Fortman together.

Update 1/24/87:  A search of Arthur William Smith 's Shenandoah County home touched off an investigation that resulted in charges against three other Virginians for transporting illegally killed animals across state lines.

Smith, 58, is to be arraigned in federal court in Roanoke on charges that he illegally imported the hide of a jaguar from the Central American country of Belize and kept a stuffed bald eagle in his home. Smith, a big game guide in Alaska, is being held on $500,000 bond.  "He's the center of the wheel. He's the guide," Patterson said. "All of these other folks are in essence his clientele."

Gary Stoneburner of Edinburg pleaded guilty in federal court in Charlottesville last month to interstate transportation of an illegally killed mountain goat and Alaskan brown bear, Patterson said. He was fined $1,750 and put on probation for two years, he said.

Wayne Edwards of Fredericksburg pleaded guilty last month to one count of interstate transportation of a brown bear and was fined $2,000, Sorenson said. He was put on probation for a year on the condition that he not hunt, the prosecutor said.

Leaton L.M. Williams of Falmouth has been charged with knowingly transporting a wolverine to Virginia from Alaska, the authorities said. A jury trial is scheduled for March 17 in federal court in Richmond.

Update 1/31/87:  An Anchorage taxidermy sting set up by federal agents to penetrate the black market for wildlife in Alaska did a busy trade in all kinds of animals killed illegally, according to affidavits filed in the federal magistrate's office in Anchorage.

Those documents attached to search warrants served by federal agents show that almost anything that could be killed and stuffed, or cut into marketable pieces, was available for sale here.

Teeth from Alaska polar bears ended up as jewelry at the Alaska Nugget Company downtown, according to one affidavit. Federally protected waterfowl ended up in the freezer at Fick's Taxidermy Studio in Muldoon, according to another affidavit. No one was arrested at either business.

But animals parts or carcasses were seized from both businesses  Search warrants also showed agents took seven walrus tusks, parts of others, walrus teeth and whale teeth from the home of Thomas Troy Lindsey of Anchorage, who does business as "The Ivory Co." He was not charged.

Polar bear hides and a small mountain of walrus tusks dominate the lists of items seized, purchased or bargained for by federal agents since the undercover operation began 18 months ago, but lots of other animals, and parts of animals, also appear.

Included on the list are the tusk from a narwhal (a small whale sometimes called the unicorn of the Arctic Ocean), the skulls of other whales, a mounted pileated woodpecker (a North American bird in danger of extinction), a number of walrus oosiks (penal bones), mounted cormorants, mounted horned owls, mounted snowy owls, frozen goshawks and whale teeth. All of those animals are protected.

Only two people have been arrested so far in connection with the illegal trade, but a total of 36 people both here and Outside will eventually face charges for marketing in protected wildlife, special agent R. David Purinton said.

One of those arrested, Mark Hayward of Anchorage, is also being held on drug charges. Fish and Wildlife agents claim to have found 5.2 pounds of cocaine while searching his home for polar bear hides.

An agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration said an investigation into Hayward's activities in Anchorage is continuing. Federal Magistrate John D. Roberts warned Hayward that under the new federal drug law he faces a mandatory minimum of five years in jail and a maximum of 40, plus fines of up to $1 million.

The DEA said the 5.2 pounds of cocaine agents seized is among the larger amounts recovered in the state in the past four years. The value of the drug was put at about $150,000.

Affidavits of undercover agents show that most of the people involved in the taxidermy sting were smalltime operators. According to the affidavits, most of the people who talked to undercover agents knew they were violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act or other wildlife laws.

One affidavit documents a meeting between Special Agent Walter Soroka and Ellen Paneok of Wasilla to discuss her carving illegal walrus tusks, "thus facilitating their resale as legitimate Alaska Native handicrafts."

The Marine Mammal Act allows Natives to sell handicrafts manufactured from marine mammals they kill, but it specifically prohibits them from trafficking in raw skins or ivory.

According to the affidavit, Paneok, who is Native, told agents she did a lot of "legalizing" of ivory. The fee for her work, they said, was $150 per tusk.

Paneok has not been charged with any crimes, but 16 walrus tusks and four bags of eagle feathers were seized at her home.

The affidavits said agents met Paneok through Joseph Lo Monaco of Anchorage, who had approached them with an offer of seven or eight walrus heads for sale. Lo Monaco said the heads were worth $8,800.

"He added that a friend, who is an Alaskan Native, had agreed to falsely claim the ivory as his if the need arises," an affidavit said.

Lo Monaco has not been charged. Eight walrus skulls, two walrus tusks, and two walrus oosiks were seized at his home, along with a videotape of a sheep hunt in Mexico a couple of weeks ago. Agents said they are investigating the possibility Lo Monaco illegally killed a desert mountain ram in that country.

Update 2/7/87:  A continuing investigation into the blackmarket traffic in illegal furs and walrus ivory in Alaska has led to a list of seizures that look like the inventory for a museum of northern big game, officials of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.   Fish and Wildlife spokesman George Sura said agents have seized furs, hides or mounts of just about every animal in Alaska.

The list of seizures include 18 polar bears, 769 pounds of walrus ivory, 18 wolves, nine black bears, a moose, a bald eagle, a golden eagle, 29 birds of prey, 10 brown bears, two leopards, a cheetah, seven Dall sheep, two mountain goats, three caribou, a blacktail deer, nine foxes, an elk, 14 waterfowl, two desert big horn sheep, four wolverines and a coyote.  "It's quite a shopping list," Sura said.

A federal grand jury is considering indictments against some of the people accused of trafficking in illegal hides, Sura said. Several people already have been charged.

Mark Hayward is being held in Anchorage on charges of dealing in polar bears hides, walrus ivory and cocaine. Alaska big game guide Arthur William Smith has been arrested in Virginia on charges of illegally importing a jaguar hide from the Central American country of Belize and keeping a stuffed bald eagle in his home.

Both jaguars and bald eagles are protected by the Endangered Species Act. Walruses and polar bears are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The Associated Press reported that Smith, 58, is being held on a $500,000 bond, and that his arrest in Virginia has led to charges against several other people.

Clients of Smith have been charged with the interstate transport of illegally killed animals, including a mountain goat, two Alaska brown bears and a wolverine, according to The Associated Press.

Update 8/6/87:  Hayward has been sentenced to five years in jail. Hayward was arrested in late January for dealing in walrus ivory and polar bear hides. A search of his car uncovered $28,000 cash, and a search of his home turned up cocaine and walrus ivory.

Hayward pleaded guilty to possession of more than 500 grams of cocaine, for which he was sentenced to five years. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of trafficking in walrus ivory and polar bear hides. He was sentenced to six months on each count, but U.S. District Judge James Fitzgerald ordered that the sentences be served concurrently with the cocaine sentence. Hayward also forfeited the money found in his car, and was ordered to pay $3,000 dollars in restitution and $1,580 in court costs.

Update 10/21/87:  Shenandoah County hunter Arthur William Smith pleaded guilty under a plea arrangement to importing a jaguar from the Central American country of Belize, to possession of a stuffed American bald eagle and a firearms charge charges of violating federal regulations protecting endangered species.

Smith's attorney, Gilbert Davis, said the pleas were made on the condition that Smith was not confessing to all the elements of the charges. His client also intended to retain the right to contest a search of his home and the law regarding the legality of possessing the animal pelts.

In January, Smith had pleaded not guilty to eight counts of violating federal firearms regulations and four counts of violating federal wildlife regulations. U.S. District Judge James C. Turk dismissed the remaining nine charges.  He also pleaded guilty to receiving a 10-gauge shotgun; it is illegal for a felon to possess a firearm.

Smith faces a possible sentence of 11 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000 on the three charges.

Smith, who describes himself as self-employed and divides his time between a Shenandoah County farm, Alaska and Belize, was indicted last October about the time he and a companion, Donna Peet, traveled to Belize.

The two were captured in December when Belizean authorities stopped Smith on a traffic charge. Authorities turned them over to U.S. authorities when the U.S. charges were discovered.

In his testimony, Donald Patterson, special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said an Ohio taxidermist, Thomas Fortman, told authorities that Smith brought a jaguar pelt to him to turn into a rug. Fortman said Smith claimed to have killed the cat with a machete in Belize.

Under questioning by Davis, Patterson said Smith supposedly killed the jaguar because it was menacing him or some cattle. Davis also pointed out that the charges against Smith involved the interstate transportation of the jaguar hide in 1983 and 1984, not the killing of the animal itself.

Fortman of St. Mary's, Ohio, pleaded not guilty in the case last November. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said he planned to dismiss the charges against Fortman in Virginia and transfer the case to Ohio.

Ms. Peet faces one count of violating federal firearms regulations, but Sorenson said the charge would probably be dismissed.

Update 1/22/88:  Smith was sentenced to three years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

U.S. District Judge James C. Turk ordered Smith to pay a $5,000 fine for possessing an endangered species -- a mounted jaguar hide -- and a $1,000 fine for possessing a stuffed bald eagle.

Turk handed down the prison term and a $4,000 fine for a firearms charge related to the wildlife violations. Smith was allowed to remain free, however, pending an appeal of a search of his home.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said a firearms charge against Ms. Peet has been dismissed. A charge against a co-defendant, Thomas Fortman, a taxidermist in St. Mary's, Ohio, has been dismissed in Virginia and transferred to Ohio, Sorenson said.

Update 1/12/89:  The conviction of Smith was upheld by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over objections that evidence was improperly obtained.

The first search warrant was obtained by a Virginia Game Commission warden and led to the seizure of a mounted American bald eagle, a mounted snowy owl, a mounted pileated woodpecker, a mounted American magpie and a mounted great horned owl.

The two other warrants were obtained by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Besides the three search warrants, a Shenandoah County grand jury issued a subpoena to Harry Deffendal, Smith's attorney, who was told to turn over any property to Smith's girlfriend following the first July search.

Deffendal unsuccessfully fought the subpoena, arguing that it would violate attorney-client privilege and that the evidence sought tended to incriminate him. As a result of the subpoena, Deffendal produced the shotgun, several other firearms and a mounted Jaguar hide.

Smith previously had been convicted of charges of attempting to smuggle into the U.S. exotic animal skins and skulls, grand larceny and illegally transporting across state lines an explosive and a firearm that had its serial number removed.

He argued that evidence obtained as a result of the warrants should not be admitted at his trial because authorities lacked probable cause to obtain the warrants; that the scope of the warrants was unconstitutionally broad; and that many of the items seized were beyond the authority of the warrants.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court, however, disagreed with each argument and upheld Turk's decision to admit the evidence.

Update 8/4/88:  The owner of a Wasillabased Native handicraft business has been charged in U.S. District Court with taking part in a scheme to illegally sell walrus tusks, court documents say.

Ellen Paneok was charged with misdemeanor conspiracy stemming from an undercover investigation into the black market for protected Alaska wildlife products. Federal agents wrapped up the operation in January 1987 and Paneok is one of a number of entrepreneurs who have been charged in the sting since.

Paneok and an Anchorage man named Joseph Lo Monaco conspired to defraud the U.S. government when they entered into an agreement to "legitimize" ivory by putting scrimshaw on it so it could be claimed to be an authentic Alaska Native handicraft, according to court documents.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 makes it illegal to take a marine mammal or possess any product from such an animal, except by Alaska Natives. Marine mammal products such as ivory cannot be transferred to non Native's unless they are first turned into Native crafts.

Documents say Paneok, a Native, told a taxidermist acting as a federal informant that she would scrimshaw raw walrus tusks in order to make them legal to sell. Lo Monaco told the informant that Paneok had carved ivory tusks for him for $100 to $150 apiece.

Paneok is scheduled to be in federal court in Anchorage on Aug. 11. She faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and $100,000 fine.

Update 4/25/98:  A bear-hunting sting netted a hunting guide and left a bear cub motherless, the Anchorage district attorney's office said.

Prosecutors said Anchorage guide James Baum and his client, an undercover agent, shot a brown bear, on the same day they flew to Mount Susitna in Baum's Piper Super Cub.

The cub was rescued by state Fish and Wildlife troopers and taken to Big Game Alaska in Portage. It likely will be placed in a zoo Outside, state Fish and Game biologist Rick Sinnott said.

The six charges filed against Baum include violating the same-day airborne hunting regulation, negligently taking a female bear accompanied by a cub, tampering with evidence, failing to report the incident to state officials and illegally transporting game.

Tampering with evidence is a felony. Hunting on the same day a hunter is flown into an area is also a felony if a guide previously has been convicted of that violation, said assistant attorney general Sam Adams.

Baum was convicted of similar charges in 1988, after he sold a mount of a Dall sheep to an undercover agent. For those charges, he was sentenced to two months in jail, forfeited two airplanes, and lost his guiding license for four years.

Fish and Wildlife Protection troopers began paying attention to Baum again after hearing reports of illegal hunting, and planned the sting operation.

Using the name Joe Conrad, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks investigator Joe Knarr in February booked a spring brown bear hunt with Baum. After several unsuccessful days, the pair spotted a den from the air. Shortly after landing, Baum told Knarr to get his rifle, the charging document said.

They spotted the bear on the ground and followed it to its den. When it came out again, Knarr asked Baum if Baum wanted him to shoot it. Baum said yes, the document said. Knarr shot the bear and Baum followed, prosecutors said.

Adams said the state Supreme Court has ruled that under certain circumstances undercover agents can break game laws to catch illegal guides.

Baum said that shooting the bear was his client's idea. "I didn't stop him," he said. "You get kind of caught up in the situation and it just happened."

Both hunters then heard the cub. They agreed to leave it in the den.

Knarr videotaped Baum skinning the sow. On the tape, Baum is heard saying he would put extra salt on the hide to conceal evidence of the nursing bear's mammary glands, prosecutors said.

Baum also removed the bear's gall bladder, which he said he was going to give to an Asian friend, prosecutors said. Once back in Anchorage, Baum, still in the company of the undercover investigator, tried unsuccessfully to find his friend at two Asian markets, the charging document said.  Brown bear gall bladders command a high price on the black market, Adams said.

After the men returned to Anchorage, Baum began talking to Knarr about turning himself in, the charging document said. Knarr, who was still undercover, recorded a meeting they had in an Anchorage restaurant, Adams said.  After the meeting, Baum went to Merrill Field to check on his airplane. There, he ran into Gerry Shanahan, an undercover agent who had been assigned to keep track of Baum's plane. Baum recognized him as an agent involved in his earlier case, the charging document said.  Baum turned himself in to authorities, according to Adams.

Baum, who has a summons to appear in court, said he wanted to save the cub.   "I just felt so bad because of the cub," he said.

Update 7/9/99:  A Superior Court jury returned a mixed verdict for an Anchorage hunting guide on trial for killing a grizzly sow with a newborn cub.

James Baum was acquitted of killing the sow but convicted of illegally possessing or transporting bear parts -- the sow's hide and gall bladder.  The jury hung on three other misdemeanor charges, including hunting on the same day as flying in an airplane.

Prosecutor Sam Adams said he will retry the case. Baum, 57, declined to comment.

The case against Baum grew out of a 1998 sting. An undercover agent, Joe Knarr, posed as a hunter and booked a $7,000 trip with Baum. Knarr, a Montana game warden on loan to the Alaska State Troopers, testified that he fired at the bear after Baum instructed him to do so.

Baum told the jury the agent fired unexpectedly while they were watching the bear from a ridge on Mount Susitna.

Defense attorney Kevin Fitzgerald said in his closing argument that the undercover officer had an agenda to get Baum.

Adams told the jury that an honest guide would have been furious if a client killed a bear illegally. He would have gone directly to his airplane and reported the crime over his radio, Adams said, or he would have called troopers as soon as they landed back in Anchorage. Instead, Adams said, Baum took two days to report the crime.

With Baum on the witness stand, Adams retraced the things Baum did before talking to the troopers: He skinned the bear and removed the gall bladder. He flew back to Anchorage and drove to two Asian markets in an effort to deliver the gall bladder. He dropped the skin at a taxidermist, along with a form giving a false location for the hunt. Then he went back to the taxidermist and replaced the false form with an accurate one.  All this, Adams said repeatedly, "while this cub is up there dying."

Baum said he was concerned about the cub but he was in turmoil.  "I hadn't made up my mind yet what to do," he told the jury.

Wildlife officials rescued the cub two days after the shooting. The bear, now named Oreo, lives at the Alaska Zoo.

State Fish and Wildlife Protection officers say they didn't intend to leave a cub motherless. They have received several complaints since Baum's trial started.   "People are alarmed, and I would be too if I didn't know all the facts," said Sgt. Charlie Beatty, who investigated the Baum case.

Beatty and his boss, division director Col. John Glass, said guide stings typically require undercover agents to kill animals.  "We don't want to kill animals. Unfortunately, in order to get a case that is prosecutable and the best case possible . . . that sometimes has to be done," Glass said. He said he knew of only one successful prosecution of a same-day airborne case in which no animal was killed.

The officers said they have considered tape-recording a guide's instructions to shoot but said there are a couple of problems with that. Agents need a warrant to secretly record a conversation, and until they go out into the field, they don't have enough information to obtain a warrant. Knarr, in his guise as a hunter, had a video camera that he used to tape Baum skinning the bear. But Glass and Beatty said the assistant attorney general advising them warned that if the agent used the camera to record the kill, the evidence might be thrown out of court.

If the agent missed the bear, it might blow his cover and it probably wouldn't save the bear, they said, because guides usually fire immediately after their clients.  If the agent had pulled out his badge just before the kill, the bear might have been saved but the agent might have been in danger, the officers said.  A guide in that situation might panic and do something crazy, like fly off and leave the agent in the field, they said.

Certainly, the officers said, Knarr would not have fired if he knew the bear was a sow with a cub. That's the sort of mistake that sometimes happens to an honest hunter, Glass said, but in this case it might have been avoided if they had watched the bear for a longer period.

"He shot that animal based on his instructions from his guide," Beatty said, although Baum adamantly disputed that and the jury couldn't reach an unanimous decision on most of the charges.

In 1997, hunters killed 1,509 brown bears in Alaska. Commercially guided trips accounted for 923 of the bear kills, and about 280 guides participated in the 1997 take.

Troopers say guides usually charge between $12,000 and $15,000 for a bear trip. Guides have a lot of incentive to cheat, Beatty said, and stings help keep those on the edge from going bad.  "How many other animals have we probably saved by putting an end to Mr. Baum and this kind of activity?" Glass asked.

Whether this case puts an end to Baum's guiding remains to be seen. His sentencing for the one misdemeanor he has been convicted of will likely be postponed if he is put on trial again.

Update 1/15/00:  An Anchorage hunting guide accused of ordering an undercover wildlife agent to shoot a grizzly sow was sentenced to 20 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

James Baum, convicted by a jury last summer of illegally possessing or transporting bear parts, also lost the Supercub and rifle he used, and he will be on probation and prohibited from hunting for 10 years.

His attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, said Baum may appeal the probationary period and the plane forfeiture. The plane, which Alaska State Troopers estimated to be worth $40,000, belongs to Baum's brother, and the probationary period is excessive, Fitzgerald said.

Prosecutor Eric Aarseth said Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton considered Baum's criminal history at sentencing. Baum was convicted in 1988 of eight counts of illegal hunting and guiding, a case that cost him two planes under forfeiture laws.  "He had been in that situation before. He had been through the criminal process before. He had been sentenced before. There shouldn't have been any questions in his mind," Aarseth said. "Mr. Baum had every reason to know that his conduct had to be above reproach."

Baum was charged with tampering with evidence, a felony, and five misdemeanors: hunting big game, and helping take big game, on the same day as being airborne, failure to report hunting violations of a client, negligently taking a sow with a cub, and unlawful possession or transportation of game parts.

A jury acquitted him of killing the sow and was hung on all but the illegal possession charge.

The prosecution planned to retry Baum, then agreed not to if a judge sentenced Baum to at least six days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Wildlife officials rescued the orphaned cub two days after Baum's hunt. Oreo, as it's called, now lives at the Alaska Zoo with Ahpun, an orphaned polar bear.

"It's unfortunate that a sow was killed in this case," said Lt. Franco D'Angelo, supervisor of the troopers' Wildlife Investigations Bureau. "But it appears there was a pattern here where multiple airborne violations were occurring. Sometimes one animal needs to be killed so these people can be stopped from continuing."

Update 3/12/08:  Alaska aviation pioneer, noted artist and author, skrimshander, public speaker, community activist/volunteer and friend, Ellen Evak Paneok died March 2, 2008, at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. She was 48.

Born Oct. 17, 1959, in Bedford, Va., she was the first Native woman bush pilot, and one of only 37 pilots featured in the "Women and Flight" exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., Ellen went on to fly more than 15,000 hours. Featured in numerous books on women and aviation, including "Bush Pilots of Alaska" and "Women Pilots of Alaska," she was also referenced in a number of other publications for her unique experience and knowledge of high-Arctic flying. Most recently she was included in Ann Cooper's new book "Stars of the Sky, Legends All."   After flying for air taxi operations throughout the Bush, she worked for the Federal Aviation Administration as an operations inspector, and then for the Alaska Aviation Safety Foundation as the statewide aviation safety coordinator. She was honored to be one of the few pilots authorized to fly the vintage aircraft owned by the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. Known to many of us as a longtime member and supporter of the Alaska 99s International Organization of Women Pilots, Ellen volunteered her time and served on the board of a number of local organizations, including the Alaska Airmen's Association and the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. She was the president of the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southcentral Alaska and served on the boards of both the Alaska Historical Commission and Challenge Alaska. She also spent countless hours inspiring the youth of Anchorage, and village communities, to look to the sky and pursue their own dreams.

Ellen has been published in Alaska Magazine, AOPA Pilot and other books and magazines, and her article "With Trusting Eyes Behind Me" was included in "The Last Frontier," a collection of the best of Alaska Magazine.


Anchorage Daily News

Richmond Times-Dispatch