FAIRBANKS – Robert J. Albaugh, 58, of North Pole, Alaska, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks for violating the Lacey Act and other federal laws stemming from the illegal hunting of caribou and moose after fraudulently obtaining federal subsistence permits.
Albaugh previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act and another federal law prohibiting false statements on subsistence hunting permit applications. Albaugh was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline to pay a fine of $5,000 and serve 30 months of federal probation, during which Albaugh is prohibited from hunting, fishing or trapping anywhere in the world.
According to the plea agreement, between 2002 and 2018, the defendant and his wife applied for and received a combined sixty-three federal subsistence hunt permits for Game Management Unit (GMU) 13, located south of Delta Junction, Alaska, by falsely certifying to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that he and his wife were “rural residents” of Delta Junction. In truth, the defendant knew that he and his wife were residents of North Pole and thus did not qualify as rural residents eligible to obtain federal subsistence hunt permits. The defendant and his wife took and transported a combined 23 caribou and one moose in violation of the Lacey Act and other federal regulations.
In 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which protects the subsistence needs of rural Alaskans. The Federal Subsistence Management Program is a multi-agency effort to provide the opportunity for a subsistence way of life by rural Alaskans on federal public lands and waters while maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife. Subsistence fishing and hunting provide a large share of the food consumed in rural Alaska. Nowhere else in the United States is there such a heavy reliance upon wild foods. This dependence on wild resources is cultural, social and economic. Alaska’s indigenous inhabitants have relied upon the traditional harvest of wild foods for thousands of years and have passed this way of life, its culture and values down through generations. Subsistence has also become important to many non-Native Alaskans, particularly in rural Alaska.
In issuing the sentence, Judge Beistline noted the importance of protecting Alaska’s natural resources and “respecting the wildlife in our state.” He also noted the importance of deterring the defendant and others from similar future violations.
The Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and Security conducted the investigation following a separate investigation of the Albaughs by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers for Taking of Wildlife Closed Season. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan D. Tansey for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Alaska.