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Denali National Park & Preserve Moose Poachers Sentenced

November 5, 2007

While on an aerial hunting patrol on the afternoon of September 17, 2006, park pilot Colin Milone saw two hunters with a moose down inside the park. The kill site was north of the Stampede Road corridor in the northwest corner of the park.

Accessing the area early the following morning, first by ATV and then by helicopter, rangers apprehended Delmar Neeley of Anderson, Alaska, and Robert Maxfield of Nenana, Alaska. They had killed a young bull moose and illegally driven two ATV’s across approximately two miles of tundra to the site. Both were charged under 36 CFR with the illegal taking of wildlife and off-road travel. In a pre-trial motion, defense counsel sought dismissal based on lack of mens rea, or criminal intent. In ruling for the government, the magistrate judge found that mens rea, including knowledge of the defendants’ location in the park, is not required in order to support a finding of guilt on both counts. The court ruled that park regulations are subject to a strict liability standard. The case went to trial in federal court in Fairbanks on August 23rd, and both men were subsequently found guilty.

Following a sentencing hearing on November 1st, Neeley and Maxfield were placed on two years probation. Both lost their hunting privileges for a year and each was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay $2,160 in restitution. In his sentencing remarks, the magistrate judge noted that this case had been “an interesting journey” for the court and had taken more court time than some felony cases. The park received outstanding help on this important case from assistant United States attorney Stephen Cooper, who is believed to be the longest serving AUSA in the country. Talkeetna-based mountaineering ranger John Leonard was the lead investigator on the case.



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