Three Wainwright Men Sentenced in Barrow for Unlawful Take of Muskox

One of three muskox found slain near the headwaters of the Colville River. Image-AST

One of three muskox found slain near the headwaters of the Colville River. Image-AST

After a lengthy investigation, and guilty pleas, three Wainwright men were each sentenced in Barrow for the taking of muskox during a closed season on Wednesday, Megan Peters revealed on the trooper dispatch.

It was in March of 2016 that Wildlife Troopers opened an investigation upon finding three female Musk Ox dead near the Nuka River, a tributary of the Colville River in the western Brooks Range. After flying in to the location 170 miles northeast of Kotzebue, their inspection of the animals would find that only one hindquarter of one animal was taken and the rest of the muskox were left for use as bait.

Two weeks later, as the investigation evolved, they would find a freshly skinned Wolverine close to the slain muskox.

The investigation would determine that the three men, identified as 32-year-old Thomas Tazruk, 57-year-old Willie Bodfish, and 29-year-old Billie Bodfish were responsible for shooting the animals. It would  also be determined that the three suspects had also stolen aviation fuel from a cache maintained by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the National Park Service for use as they conducted aerial surveys in the area.

On September 6th, after a six-month investigation, the Office of Special Prosecutions filed charges in Barrow District Court against the three men. Each were charged with Wanton Waste, Take without Permit, Unlawful Use of Game as Bait, Unlawful Methods and Means, as well as theft.

All three, on June 25th, each pleaded guilty in Barrow court in a plea agreement, to one count of taking muskox during closed season and failure to salvage meat.

As a result of  their guilty pleas, on Wednesday, each of the three received sentences of 30 days in jail, with 30 days suspended,a $500 fine, with $250 suspended. Restitution was also ordered in the amount of $9,000. Each will also be on probation for a period of one year, and the weapons used were forfeited to the state.