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14-year-old agrees to plea deal in Brevig Mission musk ox killings

A 14-year-old Brevig Mission boy charged with killing seven musk oxen near his Western Alaska village in 2012 has reached a plea agreement with state prosecutors.

Prosecutors say the teenager and a 12-year-old boy admitted in interviews with authorities that they used four-wheelers to chase musk oxen near Brevig Mission over several days. They fired at the animals with a variety of rifles and shotguns, according to the charging document filed in Nome District Court.

Alaska State Troopers were alerted about the musk ox killings in September 2012 from someone who found two dead animals west of Brevig Mission. A responding trooper located seven dead musk oxen -- two bulls and five cows -- in the Fish River and California Creek drainage areas outside the village, the charges say.

The two boys, who have not been publicly named because of their ages, faced seven counts of wanton waste of big game and multiple charges for hunting without valid permits.

The 12-year-old’s court hearing is ongoing, said Assistant District Attorney Tom Jamgochian. The 14-year-old pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $3,000 fine and forfeit the family’s four-wheeler and firearms used in the killings. He will remain on probation for a year, Jamgochian said.

Alaska statute calls for a person convicted of illegally killing a musk ox to pay the court $3,000 per animal. It’s the animal that comes with the highest fine in Alaska, followed by grizzly bear and bison, which could cost a person $1,300 per animal.

Jamgochian said the boy evaded the maximum penalty because of his age and guilty plea.