ANCHORAGE - Prosecutors have wrapped up a seven-year investigation into the actions of big game hunting guide Fred Sims, charging him with 30 counts of wildlife violations.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers investigated Sims' actions beginning in 2003. Prosecutors say the guide who worked out of the Newhalen Lodge in Nondalton would kill moose by air, leave their carcasses to rot, creating bait for brown bears and easy shots for his clients.
The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday that Sims, 45, was charged in Dillingham court on Thursday. The charges against Sims include wanton waste and taking moose in a closed season, to using game as bait and unlawful methods of taking game.
If convicted, Sims faces a minimum of seven days in jail and a $2,500 fine on each count of wanton waste. He could also be ordered to pay restitution, lose his hunting and guiding licenses, and forfeit the airplane.
Sims' lawyer, Bill Ingaldson, said his client will contest the charges. He noted that witnesses reported seeing a plane in the area of the kill sites but they weren't able to specifically identify it as Sims' airplane by the tail number.
"I have some very serious questions about a lot of the allegations that were made and very serious questions about a lot of the assumptions that the investigating troopers made," Ingaldson said. "Oftentimes people read charges and immediately assume that person did something wrong, and that's not always the case."
Troopers began their investigation in May 2003 after getting two separate complaints. Investigators noted increasing kill sites and approached U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials for assistance in installing an electronic tracking device and video equipment on Fred Sims' airplane. Investigators got a warrant allowing them to covertly install the equipment on the airplane and to retrieve global positioning data from it, assistant attorney general Andrew Peterson wrote.
As data came in, troopers began stakeouts, Peterson wrote. An officer observed Fred Sims and a client take aim and shoot at something in a valley that the men later confirmed to troopers was a bear, he wrote.
According to charging documents Sims runs his guide business out of the Newhalen Lodge, which is owned by his father, William Sims.