WARNING: Graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.
Horrific video has been released showing the brutal, point-blank killing of a hibernating mother black bear and her two “shrieking” cubs at the hands of two shirtless poachers in Alaska.
On Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Public Safety released the video of the horrifying 2018 killings following a public records request by Humane Society International.
The video shows Andrew Renner and his son, Owen, skiing shirtless up to the bear den on Esther Island in Prince William Sound.
The Renners then kill the hibernating bear mother before turning and killing her “shrieking” cubs.
The men are then seen pulling the mother bear from the den, high-fiving each other before posing for photos with the dead bear.
“They’ll never be able to link this to us,” the son is recorded saying in the video.
What the Renners didn’t know was they carried out the slayings in front of motion-activated camera set up outside the den as part of a bear study by the U.S. Forest Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
According to court documents, the men realized the mother bear had a Fish and Game collar after dragging it from the den. That’s when the son said he had removed the collar. The pair then butchered the mother bear, placed the remains in bags and skied away from the area.
The motion-activated camera captured the Renners returning to the den two days later and retrieving the collar, picking up the shell casings, and placing the cubs’ bodies in a bag and skiing away.
“I gotta go in the den and make sure there’s no little parts, right?” Andrew Renner said in the video.
“Yeah, that would be a good idea,” the son replied.
In January of this year, the men pleaded guilty to multiple misdemeanour counts, including the illegal killing of the bears. Andrew Renner was sentenced to three months in jail while his son received 30 days of suspended jail time. The father was also ordered to pay a $9,000 fine, forfeit a pickup truck, boat and trailer, weapons, skies and cell phones. His hunting licence was revoked for 10 years. The younger Renner was ordered to take a hunters’ safety course and his hunting licence was suspended for two years.
On Wednesday, the Humane Society of the United States issued a statement following the release of the video.
“This video of a father and son killing a mother bear and her babies in their den and showing complete disregard for the lives they are taking is reprehensible,” Kitty Block, president and CEO said. “The Renners’ actions demonstrate the ruthless brutality that the government is poised to enact into law on millions of acres in Alaska, overturning a 2015 Obama-era rule that prohibits the killing of black bear mothers and cubs in their dens on these lands.”
The humane society noted that the killing of “a denning bear and her cubs was illegal” in the area where the Renners carried out the killings.
“It is lawful in certain areas under Alaska state law, and the federal government is currently seeking to expand where practices like this can occur,” reiterated Block.
“This video footage makes clear how important it is to stop those rollback rules from going into effect, by letting the public see for themselves how horrific this activity is and why it has no place on our public lands,” Block said.
–with a file from the Associated Press