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AK: After lauds for hunting ethics, 'Michiganian of the Year' busted for illegal Alaska grizzly hunt

November 26, 2013

From AlaskaDispatch.com

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.
 
On 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.
 
In 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 in hunting."
 
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.
 
Oravec 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 prohibition.

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