In plea deal, artist admits to killing scores of sea otters

Kyle Hopkins

An artist known for his work with marine mammal pelts would serve six months in prison for the illegal sale of sea otter parts under a plea agreement filed this week in federal court.

Sherman Roger Alexander, 58, has admitted to killing and transporting 87 sea otters in 2008 in Craig, the plea agreement says. Alexander, who was working with a partner who is not named in the court records, was charged with failing to properly tag the otters and report the kills.

Alexander, a Ketchikan resident, sells scarves, purses, checkbook covers and other items made from sea otter and seal fur. In 2007, he was awarded $35,000 in the annual Alaska Marketplace competition for a hunting, sewing and marketing business. He planned to use the money, in part, to teach young people his trade, according to a description of the grant.

Alaska Natives are allowed to hunt sea otters under the Marine Mammal Protection Act but hunters must properly tag the animals and report their take to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Alexander is Haida, according to websites advertising his wares.

His partner was not Alaska Native, according to the charges. The pair killed the otters between April 23, 2008, and May 4, 2008, the agreement says.

The otter pelts were worth an estimated $30,000, according to prosecutors. Alexander admitted to transferring 14 skulls from the otters to another person, in violation of federal law. He also was charged with selling a blanket made from the hides of some of the otters despite failing to tag the animals or report the kills.

In a plea agreement filed Monday, Alexander pleaded guilty to three counts of illegally selling marine mammals that were killed in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Under the agreement, Alexander must forfeit 144 sea otter pelts, and portions of pelts, that were taken illegally. He has agreed to a recommended sentence of six months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Upon his release, Alexander would not be allowed to hunt marine mammals or conduct a business that deals in marine mammals, under the recommended sentence.

Anchorage Daily News
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