|Jon S. "Buck" McNeely||illegally killing caribou while filming an outdoorsman show||
|James M. Fejes|
|Blaine A. Morgan|
|William M. Vollendorf|
A federal indictment returned in Anchorage charges four hunters, including the host of a nationally syndicated television show, with illegally killing caribou while filming a segment of the show in Alaska.
The indictment says Jon S. ''Buck'' McNeely, producer and star of ''The Outdoorsman with Buck McNeely,'' conspired with Alaska hunting guide James M. Fejes of Anchorage and two of Fejes' employees to violate the state ban on same-day airborne hunting.
The caribou were killed in 1996 during a hunting trip near Fejes' base camp about 50 miles north of King Salmon, said assistant U.S. attorney Joe Bottini.
McNeely, a Missouri resident, and another hunter then transported the illegally shot animals out of Alaska, the charges say.
Interstate transportation of game taken in violation of a state law is a federal felony. The indictment, returned in Anchorage, also includes forfeiture actions against two Piper Super Cubs, a Cessna 185, a rifle and scope, and one of the caribou trophies.
Indicted with McNeely and Fejes were Blaine A. Morgan and William M. Vollendorf, both Alaska residents. A fifth man, Michael Doyle of Minnesota, was charged separately with a misdemeanor, Bottini said. The case against Doyle, a hunter who accompanied McNeely on the trip, will be handled in his home state.
None of the accused men will be arrested, Bottini said. Most of them hired lawyers during the investigation and will be summoned for arraignment, he said.
According to investigators, who included Alaska state troopers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers, McNeely and Doyle flew to Fejes' base camp. Prosecutors say Fejes told the men not to tell anyone they were going to fly and hunt the same day. The hunters were then flown out to hunting areas and each took a caribou the same day, the indictment says.
During the trip, McNeely filmed an episode of his show, which subsequently aired, Bottini said. McNeely traded advertising on his show for Fejes' services, the indictment says.
Troopers only recently learned about the hunt through a tip, Bottini said. ''This was not an undercover operation,'' he said. Investigators seized production videotapes in Missouri, and prosecutors have an additional tape shot by someone who was on location at the time, Bottini said. He declined to say if any of the tapes show the hunters alighting from a plane, then shooting.
The state deferred prosecution of the case to federal officials and is not pursuing separate criminal charges, he said. The charges all carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Anchorage Daily News