ANCHORAGE--Two men approved to participate in a state-sponsored program to kill wolves near McGrath are facing criminal charges, including shooting the animals from their planes outside the prescribed area.
Court papers show that David Haeg, 38, of Soldotna, and Tony Zellers, 41, of Eagle River, each face five counts of shooting wolves from a plane, two counts of unlawful possession of game, and one count of lying about where they shot the wolves.
Haeg, owner and operator of Trophy Lake Lodge, also is charged with two counts of trapping in closed season and one count of failure to salvage game. Each charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Alaska State Troopers said Haeg and Zellers last March applied for and were granted a state permit allowing them to kill wolves in an area near McGrath.
The predator-control program approved by the Alaska Board of Game in 2003 was designed to eliminate wolves in a 3,300-square-mile area surrounding McGrath to help the moose population increase.
But charges say Haeg and Zellers on numerous occasions shot wolves outside the prescribed area. In one case the alleged shooting occurred as far as 80 miles from the nearest border of the legal hunt zone and paperwork was then falsified to conceal the true location. Both men have pleaded not guilty, prosecutor Scot Leaders said Tuesday.
Wildlife enforcement trooper Brett Gibbens pieced together the case.