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Homer man faces federal charges for illegal transportation of four black bears and making false records

A black bear in Kenai Fjords National Park
National Parks Gallery
A black bear in Kenai Fjords National Park

A Homer man is facing federal charges of unlawful transportation of four black bears and making false records.

Forty-seven-year-old Homer resident Travis Larson and his company Alaska Premier Sportfishing are named as defendants in a six-page indictment a federal grand jury handed up April 23.

According to the indictment, Larson and his guide company illegally transported four black bears they knew had been unlawfully harvested by four Norwegian hunters in May of 2018. Larson and the company then allegedly falsified records to declare the four bears had been transported from Nuka Island, which is part of state-owned Kachemak Bay State Park where hunting is permitted, but the bears had actually been transported from Beauty Bay and Surprise Bay, part of Kenai Fjords National Park where hunting is illegal.

The four Norwegian hunters were not named, but the indictment says they were not hunting with a registered guide. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska did not return a request for comment about the possibility of criminal prosecution of the Norwegian hunters.

If convicted, Larson faces up to five years in prison and a $20,000 fine on each of six criminal counts in the indictment, as well as the possibility of having to forfeit two boats, one 65 foot vessel and one 16-foot motorboat, allegedly used in the illegal transport.

Larson’s Anchorage-based attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, told KBBI via email that they intend to vigorously defend against the charges, and they “believe the government is mistaken and seriously misapprehends both the applicable law and facts.”

Larson’s first court appearance is set for May 11.

Corinne Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer who hails from Oakland, California. She’s reported for KFSK in Petersburg, KHNS in Haines, and most recently as a fish reporter for KDLG’s Bristol Bay Fisheries Report.