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After crimes, father-son duo surrenders guiding licenses

Alaska Dispatch

Six years after a father-and-son guiding duo pleaded guilty to illegal hunting in Alaska, the state has finally yanked their guiding licenses.

The state's Big Game Commercial Services Board, in a press release Friday, trumpeted that it "took action to protect consumers and protect Alaska's carefully-managed wildlife resources by revoking the license of registered guide-outfitter Michael C. Vanning Jr. of Washington Gateway Guiding," and accepting the surrender of the license of Michael H. Vanning Sr. of Silver Star Guiding in Idaho.

The elder Vanning, now 68, and the son, now 48, in 2007 admitted to illegal guide operations in the Brooks Range. Problems arose after they were reported to using an aircraft to harass Dall sheep, apparently in an effort to drive them toward hunters. They were initially charged with 22 big-game violations, but settled the case on five counts of guiding outside of a designated guide-use area.

At that time, they each paid $4,500 in fines and lost a Piper Supercub, a single-engine aircraft worth more than $50,000. But their problems weren't over because investigations into the duo’s Alaska hunts continued.

According to the Friday press release, those investigations led to Alaska’s attorney general filing a 69-count accusation against Michael Jr. in September of last year. It accused him of wasting the meat of moose harvested by clients, overseeing the shooting sub-legal Dall sheep, trespassing, breach of contract and more.

Similar charges were being pursued against his father, according to the press release, but Michael Sr. put those to an end by simply giving up his license and getting out of the guide business.