8 people charged in caribou slaughter

Point Hope residents accused of killing about 120 animals

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Charges were filed Monday against eight people in last summer's slaughter of caribou near Point Hope.

Charges were filed in Kotzebue against the eight Point Hope residents for killing about 120 caribou and leaving at least 37 animals from 25 kill sites to waste, The Anchorage Daily News reported on its Web site.

Among the charges are wanton waste and failure to salvage meat.

Charged were Lazarus C. Killigvuk, 25; Randy John Oktollik, 26; Roy Oktollik, 18; Brett Oktollik, 20; Koomalook M. Stone, 18; Chester W. Koonuk, 29; Aqquilluk Hank, 30, and Roy A. Miller, 20.

Alaska State Troopers opened an investigation in July after counting at least 120 caribou killed about 25 miles east of Point Hope.

About half of the animals had been fully or partially wasted, investigators said. Troopers have called it "by far the worst case of blatant waste" they have ever seen.

The animals were part of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, which has more than 375,000 animals and is a major subsistence food source.

Troopers investigating reports of waste came across the carcasses scattered along a 40-mile trail about 25 miles east of Point Hope.

Elders from the Inupiat Eskimo village of Point Hope refused to cooperate in the investigation. They claimed details of the killings had been exaggerated and that troopers were handling the case unprofessionally. They also appealed to Gov. Sarah Palin to handle the case internally.

An e-mail sent after business hours Monday to the governor's office seeking comment was not immediately answered.

Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said the case remains under investigation, and additional people may be charged.

Point Hope is a Chukchi Sea community of about 700 people 330 miles southwest of Barrow.

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