Alaska life

Two mother moose and their calves graze across the Chena Flood Control Project. 

A Fairbanks man has been charged with six misdemeanors after he allegedly admitted to snaring 25 moose to use as bait for trapping wolves.

Joseph Lyndon Johnson, 24, of Fairbanks, has been charged with one count of unlawful possession/transportation of game, one count of using game as animal food or bait, two counts of attempting to take marten during a closed season and one count of criminal mischief in the fifth degree — all class A misdemeanors.

According to an affidavit, Johnson admitted to an Alaska Wildlife Trooper that he had been snaring moose and using them as bait for wolves. He allegedly admitted to snaring 25 moose in total.

On March 21, 2019, a wildlife trooper investigated a trapline that Johnson had set near Hess Creek. The trooper found two conibear marten trapping sets still active, despite the fact that the season had closed Feb. 28. According to the trooper, on that same trapline there was a live wolf caught on a leg hold next to a moose carcass.

On March 22, a wildlife trooper set up a camera on Johnson’s Hess Creek trapline. When the trooper returned a few days later, they found that the camera had been stolen.

On March 28, a trooper used a state helicopter to conduct another examination of the trapline and saw that the carcass of the wolf had been removed, but parts of the moose remained. All four quarters of the bull moose were missing and it had been frozen in a manner that suggested it had been transported there on a sled. The moose had an indentation around its snout, suggesting it had a snare clinched around it. A necropsy later confirmed the initial suspicions that it had been caught in a snare.

After a trooper found records stating that Johnson had taken a wolf, a search warrant was granted for his home. Troopers found a gray wolf and the stolen trail camera, among other items that showed Johnson had been using the trapline.

Johnson is being charged for illegally snaring the moose, for using them as bait for trapping wolves, for leaving active conibear marten sets out during a closed season and for removing the trooper’s trail camera.

According to Alaska statutes, a class A misdemeanor may be punishable by up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.