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First of four men sentenced in caribou hunt waste case

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Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013 1:15 am | Updated: 7:54 am, Thu May 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The first of four defendants was sentenced last week for his role in a disastrous caribou hunt in Northeastern Alaska that, according to Alaska Wildlife Troopers, left 18 animals dead but produced only 200 pounds of meat for the hunters.

As part of a plea agreement last week, Michael Jennings, 41, of Wasilla, pleaded guilty to a count of removing antlers before salvaging all the edible meat, a misdemeanor offense. He was fined $1,000 and his hunting license was revoked through May 10, 2014.

Prosecutors dismissed 12 other charges related to the September 2011 hunt on the Sheenjek River.

Jennings said he shot seven of the caribou, the most in the party, though fewer than the bag limit of 10 caribou, according to the criminal complaint against him. All the criminal charges relate to wasting meat.

Troopers and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer who investigated the hunt said Jennings gave several explanations for the unrecovered meat. He told troopers one caribou walked away after he shot it and another was left behind because it smelled bad and he suspected it was diseased, according to the criminal complaint against him.

Two other party members cached an estimated 170 pounds of meat when their inflatable raft capsized on the river and they started walking downstream to Fort Yukon. Troopers later inspected the cache and said the meat had spoiled. Party members told troopers other bags of meat were stolen from Jennings’ campsite in Fort Yukon.

Criminal charges also have been filed against Jennings’ co-defendants: Travis Boerner, 32; Chris Boren, 42; and Vincent Sarro III, 42. These cases are pending and have no upcoming court dates scheduled.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.

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