Wolf Song of Alaska News

Aleknagik Couple Convicted for Moose Herding

1 TO JAIL: Animal fell through lake ice after snowmachine chase

James Halpin / Anchorage Daily News / February 15, 2008

Two Aleknagik residents accused of killing a moose by herding it across a frozen lake toward open water pleaded no contest this week to charges of illegally harassing, herding and driving big game, according to prosecutors and Alaska State Troopers.

North Shore Aleknagik residents Jeri Alakayak, 24, and Gusty Ilutsik, 20, appeared in Dillingham District Court on Tuesday and entered the pleas, according to prosecutors.

"It's a common crime out here for kids to chase moose with a snowmachine," said Dillingham assistant district attorney Susan Mitchell. "It's just a stupid thing to do."

Mitchell said the two were riding a snowmachine as they herded the moose for more than three miles across Aleknagik Lake. A witness reported seeing their red snowmachine chase the moose back and forth across the ice for about 20 minutes, she said.

As the moose approached the open water, it broke through some thin ice and the pair stopped just short, apparently realizing the danger near the headwaters of the Wood River, Mitchell said.

Ilutsik was ordered to serve 15 days in jail. Both were placed on probation and required to complete 50 hours of community service, Mitchell said. Alakayak was ordered to pay a fine of $1,500, including restitution to the state for illegally killing the moose, while Ilutsik will pay $3,500.

Ilutsik was already on probation for a misdemeanor assault charge and a petition to revoke his probation has been filed, Mitchell said. He could face up to 120 days in jail for the previous offense.

The 2005 Polaris RMK 700 snowmachine the couple used was forfeited to the state.

Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.

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