AK: After lauds for hunting ethics, 'Michiganian of the Year' busted for illegal Alaska grizzly hunt
November 26, 2013
One of the "Michiganians of the Year" for 2013 has been ordered,
along with her son, to pay more than $50,000 in fines and write a
public letter of apology to Safari Club International, an
organization that maintains records of trophy game, for getting a
jump on the 2009 bear hunting season on Alaska's North Slope.
Sixty-six-year-old Charlotte Peyerk and 40-year-old son Mark Peyerk
of Mio, Mich., so badly wanted to put a trophy grizzly in "the book"
-- as big-game hunters call the register of records -- that they
started the 2009 hunting season in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge a day early, according to federal prosecutors.
Monday, Charlotte and Mark were sentenced in a Fairbanks court for
crimes in connected to that hunt. Charlotte and her husband, Dan,
enjoyed a better moment when they were recognized as outstanding
citizens earlier this year by The Detroit News. The newspaper
described them as "environmentalists from Glennie, Mich." They
were commended for hosting disabled children at their lodge in the
Great Lakes State.
According to Assistant U. S. Attorney
Stephen Cooper in Fairbanks, Charlotte, Mark and their assistant
guides together agreed to kill a trophy grizzly the day before the
hunting season opened, then try to make the shoot look legal by
altering the date indicators on their cameras to indicate the bear
was killed on opening day.
The assistant guides have not
been identified, but they worked for Fair Chase Hunts, a business
with its own problems. Seventy-six-year-old owner Joe Hendricks, one
of Alaska's oldest living guides and once one of its most respected,
in August of last year entered into a plea deal to get out from
under 34 felony charges related to illegal hunting.
exchange for a guilty plea to some of those charges, Hendricks got
off with five years of probation and $125,000 in fines. At the time
he was charged, Hendricks blamed most of his problems on "assistant
guide stuff." But according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the
clients taken on by Hendricks and partner Christopher Cassidy, who
has also been convicted of illegal guiding activities, weren't all
that law abiding either.
After shooting the grizzly a day
before the season opened, creating phony photo records to indicate
it was shot on opening day, and lying about the date of the kill on
state bear-sealing records, Charlotte, according to a press release
from the U.S. Attorney, submitted the bear for Safari Club records
recognition and later won the organizationís Diana Award for "ethics
The club describes Charlotte as someone "raised
on a small dairy farm in Michigan....(where) she developed a love
and respect for the outdoors and the animals that call it home." She
later married Dan, and he started "a heavy construction business
from scratch, and this company is now one of the nationís largest
heavy/highway contractors," according to the club.
ordered Charlotte to offer to give back the Diana Award and write
the letter of apology, then sentenced both Peyerks to pay $20,000 in
fines. Charlotte was additionally ordered to make $10,000 in
community service payments to the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation. Mark was ordered to pay it $5,000. Their rifles were
forfeited. So, too, was the trophy grizzly.
Mark will be on
probation for five years, during which time he is prohibited from
hunting. Charlotte was given four years probation with the same
Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material
whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe
that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes
a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section
107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted
material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must
obtain permission from the copyright owner.