An Alaskan father and son are accused of illegally shooting a sow black bear and its two newborn cubs last April, then hiding what they did, without knowing a game camera was running the whole time. The bears were part of a U.S. Forest Service and Alaska Department of Fish and Game study.
This week, Andrew Renner, 41, and Owen Renner, 18, were charged with felony and misdemeanor charges. According to a sworn summary of an Alaska Wildlife Troopers report, the two men were skiing on Esther Island in Prince William Sound when they saw the sow, which was collared, and Owen Renner shot at it twice.
According to charging documents in the case, 30-second video clips from a motion-triggered game camera show "cubs begin shrieking in the den after the initial shots are fired." As the Anchorage Daily News reports, “The men listen for several minutes before realizing the cubs are making the sounds, the document says. They move closer and Andrew Renner, just a feet away, takes aim through his rifle scope and fires several more shots, killing the newborn cubs.”
Assistant District Attorney Aaron Peterson wrote, "Andrew Renner is captured on video saying 'It doesn't matter. Bear down.’” Tape shows the men pulling the sow out from the den and noticing the collar; Renner’s voice is heard asserting, "I'm gonna get rid of these guys" as he throws the carcasses of the cubs out into the snow, then takes the cubs while his son stays behind.
On the tape, Owen Renner, who was then 17, says, "We got the collar off.” Andrew Renner points away from the den, replying, "We're gonna skin it that way," pointing away from the den, prompting Owen Renner to say, “They'll never be able to link it to us.” Then the men butcher the sow, stow the meat in bags and ski away.
ADN adds, “The camera also captured the men returning to the den site two days later to retrieve the collar, pick up spent shell casings and discuss disposing of the bear cubs, the document says. One of the men says he's going into the den to ‘make sure there aren't any little parts.’"
On April 30, Andrew Renner brought the sow bear skin and collar to Fish and Game in Palmer; he said that he’d shot the bear near Granite Bay, according to troopers. He added that although he recognized that the sow had teats, he didn’t spot the cubs. ADN adds, “He is also accused of falsifying the document by saying he shot the bear when his son was seen doing it, and not describing the kill as an ‘illegal take.’"
The Renners were charged with illegal hunting of the mother bear with cubs, of killing the cubs, and possessing and transporting the bears.