Sitka man faces poison charges

SITKA — A groundskeeper at a Sitka golf course faces charges after he allegedly attempted to poison brown bears tearing up the course, but wound up poisoning two dogs instead.

Kevin N. Taranoff, 31, has been charged with using unlawful methods and means to take big game.

He has a Nov. 12 court date, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reports. The citation says he knowingly tried to kill brown bears at the Sea Mountain Golf Course “by the use of poisonous chemicals.”

The citation also says, “Defendant killed two dogs in the process, and later admitted to fellow employees that he attempted to poison brown bears.”

Alaska Wildlife Troopers say he put out food laced with antifreeze to kill the bears.

The board of the Sitka Golf Association, which is in charge of the golf course, did not authorize the use of poison to kill the bears, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Jake Abbott said.

“(Taranoff) was acting on his own,” Abbott told the newspaper.

Abbot had been investigating the deaths of the two dogs believed to have been poisoned near the golf course.

Both dogs separately ran off-leash on Oct. 14, he said. They were taken to the same veterinary clinic the next day, when both died. Veterinarian Vicky Vosburg suspected they had been poisoned.

Golf course officials had earlier complained to Alaska Fish and Game wildlife biologist Phil Mooney that bears were ripping up ball cups on the practice green at the course.

Mooney put up a live trap for the bear.

“One of the employees made a comment, if they didn’t take care of it, he would, so we had a suspicion,” Abbott said.

The bear tripped the trap, but wasn’t caught, Mooney said.

Abbot said the intent with the poisoned food was to get bears, not other animals.

“He was intentionally trying to poison brown bears; I don’t think he was trying to poison dogs,” Abbott said.

Taranoff declined to comment other than to say that signs at the golf course saying “Dog Leash Law Enforced” were “were placed there for a reason.”

Mooney said residents are allowed to kill bears in defense of life and property, but the use of poison is not allowed.

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