25. ALASKA RUNS STATE SANCTIONED POACHING MONOPOLY
The cruel and illegal slaughter of fish and wildlife is a multimillion
dollar industry in the state of Alaska which law enforcement is not only aware
of, but appears to protect.
Behind Alaska's $20 million-per-year, big-game
hunting industry operates a good-old-boy network that wraps the guides, the board
that regulates them, and some officials of the Alaska Division of Fish and Wildlife
Protection in a cocoon of political and economic cooperation, according to an
investigation by the Anchorage Daily News, reported by Craig Medred, the Daily
News outdoors editor.
Following is a sample of the widespread conflicts
of interest: Chuck Weir is Vice Chairman of the Guide Board, the regulatory board
that is supposed to regulate and police the guide industry. Weir also is a former
guide and one of the few insurance salesmen in the state specializing in insurance
for guides. Robert Boutang is a sergeant with Alaska Fish and Wildlife Protection
and is also a licensed assistant guide, working toward his registered guide's
license. Phil Driver, a guide and president of the professional hunter's association,
was dismissed from his job as Guide Board chairman in 1985 after being charged
with hunting illegally. It was the second time Driver had been indicted on illegal
hunting charges. Investigating this apparent multi-level statewide corruption
has proved dangerous. Two guides who had been arrested on poaching charges died
in plane crashes in which the banking cables of both their planes had been reversed.
One of the two poachers had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and was due to
appear in court the day after his death. Alaska State Troopers found the deaths
to be coincidental.
The efforts by one whistle-blower to expose the statewide
poaching monopoly has ruined his life, forced him into poverty, and left him in
jail on murder charges. Ken Hunter, Ph.D., is a former college professor who left
Montana to pursue a commercial fishing career in Alaska. On his arrival in Alaska,
he discovered what many already knew about the poaching industry and vowed to
According to Hunter, his efforts were met with resistance from
the Alaska State Troopers (AST) and eventually a contract was put out on his life
by big game guides and poachers. Hunter said that three attempts were made on
his life, and, despite pleas for help from the AST, he received none. During the
third attempt, in 1984, he shot and killed two hit-men whose bodies were never
In an effort to draw attention to his plight, Hunter confessed to
the murders even though no bodies were found. His strategy didn't work since no
charges were brought against Hunter and he left Alaska.
Then, in 1988, Hunter
filed a $680 million suit against 75 prominent Alaskans he believes to be implicated
in the state-wide corruption. Shortly after the suit was filed, the state of Alaska
indicted Hunter on charges of murdering the two alleged hit-men four years earlier.
Ken Hunter now sits in an Alaskan jail awaiting judgment by the those
he is suing. In a letter to Project Censored, Hunter wrote: "My
family and I are now being sacrificed in order to conceal the involvement
of Alaska State Troopers (ASTs) in conservation crime with Alaska's
big game hunting guides. I ask you, as an American and as a human being,
to help us fight and expose the corruption, the oppression, and the
inhumanity that weigh so heavily upon us."
DAILY NEWS, 5/8/88, "Game guides are under fire," by Craig Medred, p
1+; assorted articles from the Daily News and ANCHORAGE TIMES, 1988; personal
letter, by Ken Hunter, 10/26/88.