Big game guides plead guilty to illegal taking of game

Posted: Thursday, May 02, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two Alaska guides pleaded guilty in federal District Court on Thursday to assisting in the illegal taking big game.

Kurt Lepping, 47, Wasilla, a master big game guide, pleaded guilty to two Lacey Act violations. As part of a plea agreement, Lepping will forfeit his guide license and license to transport hunters into the field for five years. He also paid a $15,000 fine and was placed on probation for five years.

Lepping's son, Kyle Lepping, 28, an assistant guide at the time of the offenses and now a registered big game guide, pleaded guilty to illegally assisting one hunter. He was placed on probation for five years, fined $3,000, and forced to surrender his guide license for five years.

Kurt Lepping assisted Minnesota hunter Steven Hanson in shooting two bull moose during a hunt in September 1997. According to prosecutors, Hanson paid Lepping $12,000 for a ''trophy moose hunt.''

While guided by Kyle Lepping, Hanson shot a small bull moose but refused to place his license tag on the animal.

According to prosecutors, the Leppings and Hanson arranged for a resident packer to falsely claim the small moose as his own kill. Lepping then permitted Hanson to shoot a larger bull.

The bag limit for bull moose is one per season.

Hanson was sentenced in January to 18 months probation and ordered to pay a fine of $7,000 plus $1,000 restitution to the state. He also forfeited a bull moose head mount, a grizzly bear rug and a rifle.

Hanson's plea included a confession to a same-day airborne grizzly hunt with Kurt Lepping in April 1998.

Kurt Lepping also pleaded guilty to aiding hunter Curtis Marks of Windemere, Fla., to take a bull moose on the same day Marks was airborne, a violation of state law. According to prosecutors, Lepping flew Marks over several large bull moose, landed his Supercub aircraft nearby, and walked with Marks to look for a trophy bull.

Lepping departed in his aircraft and Marks shot a moose, then returned and assisted in butchering and transporting the animal.

Marks pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act and was sentenced to one year probation. He also was ordered to pay a fine of $7,000, restitution to the state of $850, and to forfeit a rifle, scope and bull moose mount.



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