Papers eaten by dogs? – Craig Medred


Jessie Holmes on the trails near her dog mushing camp / National Geographic

Explanations for why Jessie Holmes, musher of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, found it necessary to put down four moose in self-defense in the space of a week in February remain unavailable, but the Alaska Wildlife Troopers have now quoted the ‘Life Below Zero’ reality TV star. for failing to complete the required paperwork to substantiate these killings in defense of life and property (DLP).

The charges add to growing image issues the 40-year-old musher has faced since April, when he learned his team of dogs ran out of a parking lot in Wasilla and drove off to invade the yard of Lucky – an unlucky 15-pound Havanese. There they attacked and killed the little dog as its terrified owner watched helplessly to stop the carnage.

Officials in Sarah Palin’s former hometown of Wasilla have since issued Holmes 10 citations for failing to restrain her dogs and one for animal cruelty in Lucky’s death. Holmes is considering a fine of $1,520 in connection with these citations.

News of the Wasilla attack led to public exposure of Holme’s moose-slaying exploits. A reader of this website posted a comment on the story of Lucky’s sad demise and wondered how many elk Holmes had shot and killed along the Denali Highway over the winter.

When Troopers was contacted about these dead moose late last month, they reported they were aware of at least four killed by Holmes, but said they concluded the Iditarod musher had acted legally.

“None of the DLPs are considered suspicious,” an agency spokesperson said at the time, “and there is no active Alaska Wildlife Trooper investigation into these incidents.”

Holmes did not respond to repeated messages left on his phone asking for details of the moose shootings, and when asked for copies of DLP reports that must be filed by law to explain the moose shootings, officials from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said they found no such reports or any record that the reports were ever filed.

This was all first reported here on May 2.

What exactly happened next is unclear, but Over the weekend, the troopers revealed that “although all four moose kills were deemed legal under state regulations…Holmes failed to file the required DLP forms with the Department of fish and game within 15 days of collection.On May 21, Holmes returned the DLP forms at AWT’s request and received multiple citations for not submitting the required report.

The last time Holmes got into trouble like this was for not filing his subsistence fishing report in 2017. It cost him $1,300, according to state court records, but the he fine and costs came after he failed to appear in court to answer the charge. and a judge had to issue a warrant for his arrest.

Still missing

A request to the soldiers for copies of the DLP reports was apparently filed and went unanswered. By law, reports must be submitted to Fish and Game, a separate agency. The law establishing reporting requirements dates back to the early state, when Fish and Game employed rangers to enforce fish and wildlife laws.

Most law enforcement responsibilities have long since been transferred to the Ministry of Public Security, which oversees soldiers. All soldiers now receive the same training, but the agency is divided into AST (law enforcement troopers) and AWT (fish and wildlife law enforcement troopers), although the latter are regularly called into service to help the former.

Meanwhile, many Fish and Game employees are also deputized under state law so they can enforce hunting and fishing regulations. Fish and Game spokesman Rick Green said on Monday he was still trying to determine if a soldier might have accepted the DLP reports in person at Cantwell, near where Holmes was living at the time of the shooting. , or whether the reports had been sent to Juneau. .

Shooting any type of potentially dangerous wildlife in defense of life and property is legal in Alaska, but justification is required. The state makes a “Defence of Life or Property Report on Animals Killed Through Play” available online.

People are asked to “explain why this animal was killed and what, if anything, was done to prevent it from being killed.

“Persons shooting game under this DLP regulation must also collect the skull and skin (for bears, wolves, etc.) or meat (for moose, caribou, etc.) and return them. to the State… The report must be completed by the person who killed the animal. If that person cannot complete the form, the agency officer (ADF&G employee, FWP (Fish and Wildlife Protection, now AWT) officer, police officer, etc.) who speaks to the person who shot the animal, or who initially receives information from the shooter should complete this report.

Many DLP shootings involve bear attacks and bear mutilations, and sometimes the victims of these are in no condition to complete the report themselves. Some people have been similarly injured in moose attacks and a few have died, but there is no indication that Holmes suffered any injuries during his encounters with moose.

It did, however, have a busy week with big deer in February.

Troopers now say he reported killing two moose on Feb. 20 “while a dog was hanging out near the Denali highway,” another on Feb. 22 and a fourth on Feb. 27. moose to defend life and property in one winter let alone four in a week.

It should be noted, however, that clashes between dog teams and moose are not uncommon on Alaska’s winter trails. Moose instinctively defend themselves against wolves by standing up and using their feet as weapons, and dogs look like wolves to a moose.

During this year’s Iditarod, musher Matthew Failor was forced to shoot a moose on the trail near Galena in central Alaska after he tried to trample his team. And in one of the most famous incidents in Iditarod history, musher Dewey Halverson in 1985 shot down a moose that was ravaging the team of the late Susan Butcher.

The moose killed three of Butcher’s dogs, injured several others and forced her to retire from a race that many had given her a good chance of winning.

With Butcher sidelined, Libby Riddles went on to win and garner international attention as the first female champion in the history of the 1,000 mile race from Anchorage to Nome. Butcher won his first Iditarod the following year and followed that up with three more victories before a surprise retirement in 1994 at the age of 39.

She suffered no more moose attacks, but began carrying a gun – as many, if not most Iditarod competitors do – just in case another moose entered her team. A considerable number of mushers have been forced to shoot moose over the years, but it’s rare to hear anyone shoot more than one moose in the winter.

Shooting twice in a day and four in a week, as reported by Holmes’ soldiers, is so unusual that none of the many mushers and wildlife biologists contacted remember anything of the sort. happened before.

Several mushers have noted that heavy snowfall on the southern slopes of the Alaska Range has concentrated moose along the Denali in unusual numbers this winter, leading to regular encounters and many problems. But Fish and Game officials said they had received no reports from DLPs other than from Holmes, who operated from a camp along the summer-only highway near the US Bureau of Land Management Brushkana Creek Campground about 30 miles east of Cantwell on the George Parks Highway.

His move to a sled dog training area was featured in 2020’s “Life Below Zero” in which Holmes is one of the stars. National Geographic production then shed light on its construction of a one-room cabin at the site.

Categories: Unclassified

Tagged as: alaska, Brushkana, defense of life and property, DLP, dog attack, fines, Iditarod, Jessie Holmes, lucky, moose, shooting, sled dog, Wasilla


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