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Dad, son sentenced for aerial herding, killing of a bull moose south of Fairbanks

February 29, 2012

By Tim Mowry, NewsMiner.com

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks father and son accused of using an airplane to herd a large bull moose the father shot south of Fairbanks in September reached a plea deal with the state this week that resulted in a $5,000 fine and seven days in jail for the father and the loss of an airplane for the son.
 
Kevin M. Foster, 46, pleaded guilty to same-day airborne hunting, while Kevin Foster II, 22, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession or transportation of game. The two hunters were
 
originally charged with same-day airborne hunting, unlawful methods of taking game (use of a cell phone), unlawful methods of herding game and unlawful possession of illegally taken game.
 
Alaska game laws prohibit taking most big game on the same day a hunter flies. Regulations also prohibit the use of two-way radio communications, including cell phones, in the taking of big game.
 
The elder Foster was fined $5,000, sentenced to seven days in jail and ordered to pay $1,000 restitution for the moose. He also forfeited the hide, antlers and meat of the moose to the state, as well as a Winchester model 70 .338-caliber rifle with a scope. His hunting privileges were revoked for five years and he was put on probation for five years.
 
The younger Foster forfeited his Cessna 140 and was fined $2,000. His hunting privileges were revoked for one year.
 
Fairbanks Alaska Wildlife Trooper Sgt. Scott Quist, who investigated the case, said the elder Foster shot a large bull with an antler spread in the high 50 inches on Sept. 20 in game management unit 20A about 40 miles south of Fairbanks.
 
According to charging documents filed in court, troopers received a phone call from another hunter in the area just before
 
5 p.m. that day reporting an aircraft was being used to herd moose to a hunter on the ground.
 
“He saw an aircraft diving in a manner that he couldn’t conceive somebody flying like that unless he was herding a moose,” Quist said. “He didn’t see the actual (shooting).”
 
The hunter provided troopers with the plane’s tail number, which FAA records showed belonged to the younger Foster.
 
Troopers contacted Foster II later that day as he was parking his plane on the East Ramp at Fairbanks International Airport. He told troopers he had flown to his father’s moose camp and admitted to talking to his father from the air on a cell phone but denied talking to him about a large bull he saw near the camp as he was landing. The younger Foster claimed his father mentioned the moose after he landed and then went and shot it. Troopers seized the plane and the younger Foster’s cell phone at the airport.
 
Quist flew to the camp the next day to interview Foster Sr., who initially denied his son communicated with him about the location of the moose. He later admitted he was trying to protect his son by denying what happened.

The elder Foster said his son talked to him via cell phone about the location of the moose while he was flying.
 
The father admitted his son took off and circled the area while he stalked and shot the moose. The father denied his son was attempting to herd the moose to him.
 
According to the witness who phoned troopers, the plane circled the same area several times while repeatedly making diving loops. Troopers obtained a search warrant for the GPS in the plane, which showed Foster II took off at 3:53 p.m. on Sept. 20 and was in continual motion for 14 minutes. The GPS tracking device showed Foster II flew 13.6 miles making continuous circles in an area of only 0.417 square miles at an average speed of 58 knots, which was consistent with what the witness reported.
 
Prosecutor Andrew Peterson from the Office of Special Prosecutions in Anchorage, who negotiated the plea deal, said had it not been for a witness in the field who reported the incident and the fact troopers were able to contact the younger Foster and seize his phone and airplane before he could speak with his father to coordinate a story, the case probably “would have gone totally undetected.”
 
“But for the fact there was a witness in the field who observed this and reported it, the state never would have known about it,” Peterson said.

“There’s nothing about two guys coming out of the woods with a moose and a plane that would arouse suspicion.”
 
Peterson hopes the stiff penalties send a message to hunters about same-day airborne hunting.
 
“It’s just not worth it,” Peterson said.
 
Both Fosters appeared telephonically in the Nenana District court on Tuesday. Attempts to reach either for comment were unsuccessful.

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