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Jan. 23, 2019 – A man who, along with his teenage son, mercilessly slaughtered a hibernating mother bear and her two newborn cubs in their den, and then lied about it, will serve time in jail for the gruesome crime that shocked Americans when it came to light last August.
Andrew Renner was convicted of eight counts, including unlawfully killing and transporting the bears, and sentenced to three months in jail. The Anchorage Daily News reports that he will also pay a $9,000 fine, and that he has forfeited property that was confiscated from him, including a 22-foot Sea Sport ocean boat and trailer, a 2012 GMC Sierra pickup, two rifles, two handguns, two iPhones and two sets of backcountry skis used in the crime. His hunting license has been revoked for 10 years.
His son, Owen Renner, was convicted of four counts, including killing and transporting the bears. He was sentenced to 30 days of suspended jail time and will be required to perform community service and take a hunter safety course. His hunting license has been suspended for two years.
According to charging documents, the crime spree occurred in April 2018 when the Renners skied to a remote den in Alaska and slaughtered the mother bear in front of her shrieking cubs, then went on to kill the cubs. They then cut up the mother’s body, placed it into game bags, and skied away. Two days later the father and son returned to the scene of the crime, where the father destroyed evidence and stuffed the bodies of the newborn cubs in a bag. Two weeks later, Andrew Renner presented the carcass as a legal kill to the state’s wildlife agency, lied about killing the cubs, and submitted falsified information.
The Humane Society of the United States is fighting to save America’s black bears from the threat of systematic and sanctioned cruelty proposed by our federal government, with the Renner case serving as a disturbing reminder of how closely our government is now aligned with trophy hunters. In 2017, Congress voted to overturn a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife rule to protect native carnivores on public lands in Alaska by prohibiting methods such as killing hibernating mother bears and their cubs, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, and killing brown bears after baiting them. In 2018, in the same vein, the Department of the Interior proposed a rule to overturn a 2015 National Park Service decision that prohibited similar and other egregious methods. Thousands of you wrote to the Department of the Interior to oppose the rule. As we await a decision, we are developing more extensive strategies to meet the threats to native carnivores in North America.
Outrage over the Renner case and today’s sentencing should help Congress and the Department of the Interior appreciate just how out of step they are. The American public does not support the cruel killing of native carnivores. A 2018 poll of Alaskans by Remington Research Group showed that a supermajority of residents oppose allowing cruel hunting methods in their state, with 71 percent opposed to allowing hunters to kill hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in dens with the aid of artificial lights.
Black bears, grizzly bears and wolves are an integral part of America’s landscape and are among our most precious natural treasures. If they cannot be safe from cruel killing practices on our national preserves, there is very little meaning to our federal government’s frequently professed desire to protect them for future generations.
Kitty Block is acting President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States and President of Humane Society International, the international affiliate of The HSUS. www.humanesociety.org