Two Togiak-area men sentenced in walrus kill

Casey Grove

Two Togiak-area men have pleaded guilty and been sentenced for illegally killing a walrus inside a state game sanctuary in 2011.

A grand jury indicted codefendants Jessie Arnariak, 50, and Sixty Arkanakyak, 49, in December 2012, charging them with violating federal marine mammal protection laws and for being felons in possession of firearms, court records show. They would later both plead guilty.

According to the plea agreements, the men launched a skiff from near Togiak and motored to Round Island, inside the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary, where a herd of the animals had hauled out. Armed with 12-gauge shotguns, they shot and wounded five walruses, causing a stampede that allowed four of the animals to escape, the plea agreements say.

Arnariak and Arkanakyak "corralled one walrus against a cliff on the beach and shot it in the head with their shotguns until it died. (They) then hacked the tusks off the walrus's skull and returned to their skiff without taking any of the meat or anything else from the killed walrus," the plea agreement says.

The crime had been observed by someone working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki said.

Both Arnariak and Arkanakyak had previously been convicted of felonies and were not allowed to possess guns, according to the plea agreements.

Arkanakyak pleaded guilty in February and was sentenced in June to 30 months in prison. Arnariak pleaded guilty in October and was sentenced Monday to 15 months in prison.

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