Alaska Poachers Sentenced for Killing Mother Bear and 'Shrieking' Cubs
Two Alaska hunters will face jail time and other penalties after fatally shooting a denning black bear sow in front of her two "shrieking" cubs, and then shooting the newborns dead.
Wasilla resident Andrew Renner was sentenced to five months in jail with two months suspended, a fine of $20,000 with $11,000 suspended and the forfeiture of his 22' Sea Sport ocean boat and trailer, 2012 GMC Sierra pickup truck, two rifles, two handguns, two iPhones, and two sets of backcountry skis that were used in the offenses, according to a press release from Alaska's Department of Law. His hunting license was revoked for 10 years.
Owen Renner, Andrew's son, was sentenced to suspended jail time, community service and will be required to take a hunters safety course. His hunting license was suspended for two years.
The men will also have to pay $1,800 in restitution, the amount set by statute for killing black bears.
The defendants were sentenced Tuesday at the Anchorage District Court. The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Aaron Peterson, told the court that this was "the most egregious bear cub poaching case his office has ever seen" and urged the court to impose a sentence to dissuade others from committing similar offenses in the future.
The Renners made headlines in August after they were charged with several felony and misdemeanor crimes for shooting and killing the mother bear and the two newborns in April on an island in Prince William Sound.
They tried to cover up their actions but did not realize the bears were part of an observation program by the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The den was monitored by motion-activated camera, meaning the slayings were caught on video and audio.
The younger Renner can even be heard saying, "they'll never be able to link it to us," according to court documents obtained by KTVA.
According to Alaska's Department of Law, the recordings show the Renners skiing to a remote den. Owen Renner fires at least two shots at the denning sow. Not long after the fatal shots, the newborn cubs start "shrieking" and the elder Renner fires several shots, killing the young bears. The men then butchered the mother's body, placed it in game bags and skied away.
Two days later, the father and son return to the site to collect the cub carcasses in a small transparent bag and skied away with the poached cubs in their possession. Two weeks later, Andrew Renner presented the sow's carcass to the state's wildlife agency and lied that he, not his son, killed the bear. He also failed to report an "illegal take."
Both father and son pleaded guilty in November to charges related to the incident.
"Protection of natural resources in this state is of paramount importance," Peterson said in the press release. "By protecting the wildlife and ensuring a biologically appropriate number of animals are present across any given location, we protect the very culture of Alaska. But without active game management, vigorous enforcement of the regulations, and significant sentencings for wildlife violators, the big game in Alaska can be wiped out—and the sport, subsistence, and cultural traditions of Alaskans gone with them."
"The defendant, and anyone else that would pursue game in our state, should be on notice that killing a sow with cubs and then poaching the cubs to cover it up, will result in a significant jail term and loss of hunting privileges," he continued. "People must know that poachers will be required to pay large fines and restitution for the illegal killing of the animals and that the vehicles, boat, planes, and instrumentalities used in wildlife crimes will be forfeited. These are the sentencing provisions that will let people know that Alaska does not tolerate poaching."
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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