ESTHER ISLAND, Alaska – On Esther Island in Alaska, a motion-detecting camera was set up in a bear den as part of a joint three-year study between the US Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
What that camera captured has now led to felony and misdemeanor charges against a Palmer father and son, who authorities say shot dead a sow black bear and her two just-born cubs, then tried to cover it up once they saw the mother bear was collared, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
Per court documents, Andrew Renner, 41, and Owen Renner, 18, were charged after video clips showed them skiing past the bear den on April 14, when the sow caught their eye. Per an Alaska State Troopers dispatch, Owen Renner then shot at the mother bear twice, and when the baby bears started “shrieking,” Andrew Renner shot and killed them.
Additional clips are allegedly said to show the Renners skinning and butchering the sow for meat, discussing getting the collar off her, and Owen Renner declaring, “They’ll never be able to link it to us.”
The men are also reportedly seen coming back to the site two days later to pick up empty shells and retrieve the cubs’ bodies.
Troopers say later that month, Andrew Renner brought the bear skin and collar to ADF&G in Palmer and said he, not his son, had shot the sow, and that once he saw she had teats, he looked for but didn’t see any cubs. It’s illegal in Alaska, except at certain sites, to take cubs or sows with cubs.
Andrew Renner now faces felony charges of tampering with evidence, as well as unsworn falsification and contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Owen Renner was only 17 in April). The men also face misdemeanor charges, including unlawful take of a sow with cubs and the cubs themselves.
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