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CO: Colorado man pleads guilty to illegally guiding in ANWR

Monday, June13, 2011

FAIRBANKS — A Colorado sheep hunting guide who pleaded guilty to illegally
guiding hunters in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was fined $60,000 and
sentenced to five years probation recently in federal court in Fairbanks.

Christopher Cassidy, 51, of Fruita, Colo., pleaded guilty to extensive
illegal guiding activities from 2005 to 2009 in ANWR that covered a dozen
hunts.

Cassidy plead guilty to two felony counts of violating the Lacey Act and 11
misdemeanor counts of violating the National Wildlife Refuge Act. He was
sentenced on June 3 by U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline.

Two additional Lacey Act violations involving an illegal grizzly bear hunt
were dismissed under terms of the plea agreement.

The charges against Cassidy were the result of a joint investigation by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Alaska Wildlife Troopers.

According to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Monday,
Cassidy guided a sheep hunting client in ANWR knowing the Dall sheep the
hunter shot was illegal and that it was shot outside the guide’s special-use
permit area. In addition, Cassidy did not salvage all the edible meat from
the sheep as required by state hunting regulations.

Cassidy also was accused of submitting a false record to refuge officials in
an attempt to conceal the fact that an aircraft was used during the hunt.
Cassidy’s federal permit allowed the use of certain aircraft for
transporting supplies, equipment and personnel into base camp but prohibited
the use of aircraft during the hunt.

Cassidy also pleaded guilty to providing illegal guiding and outfitting
services in 11 additional hunts in ANWR for Dall sheep and caribou. Those
hunts resulted in the taking of six Dall sheep outside Cassidy’s assigned
guiding area.

Big game guiding permits in ANWR are issued on a competitive basis and give
the guide-outfitter exclusive use within an assigned area. Cassidy was
working in cooperation with a neighboring guide-outfitter to use that guide’s
permit area to conduct the illegal hunts. The release did not say whether
the neighboring guide was charged in the case.

The charges that were dropped regarding the grizzly bear hunt involved a
hunter who shot a grizzly bear and then purchased a grizzly bear tag from
Cassidy after killing the bear in the refuge. Cassidy admitted to guiding
the hunter and transporting the bear before the hunter purchased a grizzly
bear tag.

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