On April 14, 2018, Andrew Renner and his son, Owen, headed out for a day of hunting. The pair skied to a remote location and came across a bear’s den. Inside, was a mother bear and two cubs. Renner and Owen attacked the mother bear and shot the newborn cubs, unaware that they were in view of a research camera.
The incident took place on Esther Island, located in the Gulf of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The mother bear was part of a study being conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the US Forest Service.
Neither Renner, 41, nor Owen, 18, were aware of the motion-activated camera near the den. When the pair attacked the mother bear and her cubs, the entire incident was captured on film.
After spotting the mother bear, Owen was seen firing at least two shots. The cubs began to shriek, though the men didn’t initially realize where the noise was coming from, assuming it was the mother bear.
Once the mother was dead, the pair saw the cubs. Renner shot them.
In the video, Renner can be heard saying, “It doesn’t matter. Bear down.”
Then, the pair notices the mother bear’s tracking collar. They dragged the bear’s body away from the den and, in a second video clip, Owen says the collar has been removed. He adds, “They’ll never be able to link it to us.”
They butcher the mother bear and take the remains away in game bags. Two days later, they return, grabbing the collar, some shell casings, and the cub’s bodies.
The pair was ultimately charged. They soon pleaded guilty to several misdemeanors.
“My office believes and argued for active jail time in this case because of the egregious nature of it, and the necessity of letting the public know Alaska will not tolerate poaching,” said Aaron Peterson, the assistant attorney general. According to a report by the Daily Mail, Peterson noted that jail time for cases such as these is rare.
“What we saw is that there were two bear cubs that were completely defenseless and were shot at point-blank range.”
On Tuesday, Renner was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay a $9,000 fine. He must also forfeit his truck, trailer, boat, skies, weapons, and cell phones. His hunting license was also revoked for a decade.
His son received a sentence of 30 days or suspended time. He was ordered to take a safety course for hunters, and his license is suspended for two years.