Iditarod musher fined in moose hunting case

Posted: Sunday, December 07, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Jeff King, a four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, has been ordered to pay a $4,000 fine for illegally killing a moose just inside Denali National Park and Preserve.

The 52-year-old musher also must pay $750 in restitution to the National Park Service in connection with the September 2007 hunt.

King was found guilty in October by a federal magistrate following a two-day trial.

At his sentencing hearing Friday, a tearful King addressed Federal Magistrate Judge John D. Roberts, saying he was "humbled and emotionally spent."

"I'm ready for it to be over," King said. "This has turned my life upside down and has caused me countless nights of sleepless worry. I am deeply embarrassed by it all."

King was accused of a killing the bull moose about 600 feet inside the park's northern boundary while on a hunting trip with one of his daughters. Only federally qualified subsistence users, which King is not, are allowed to hunt inside park boundaries.

Prosecutor Stephen Cooper said King initially lied to rangers about where he shot the moose and then lied under oath during the trial. Cooper pushed for a maximum of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

"There was an element of deliberateness and misleading practiced on the rangers and on the court," Cooper said.

King denied lying to anyone at any time.

"I have not and will never willingly tell a lie," he said in his comments to Roberts.

Defense attorney Myron Angstman said the recommendation for jail time was preposterous.

"This is a petty misdemeanor and should be treated as such," he said. "The only way you go to jail if you shoot a moose in Alaska is if you waste a substantial part of it or you are somehow commercially involved in profiting from that moose."

Roberts said there was insufficient evidence to conclude that King lied under oath.

"This is not a case of failing to notch a harvest ticket or taking more than one moose in a season," Roberts said. "Basically, it's about taking a moose in a national park."

King and Angstman said during the trial that the park boundary along the northeast edge was poorly marked and also difficult to find on the park service's Web site. King has lived in Denali Park for 33 years and runs a mushing tour business in the summer that caters to park visitors.

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