Rural Alaska

Kaktovik man accused of killing polar bear after it tried to eat whale meat he left in his yard

A 35-year-old Kaktovik man is accused of killing a polar bear after it was attracted to whale meat he left in his yard and leaving the dead bear to waste, according to federal charges filed Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors say Christopher L. Gordon shot the bear sometime around Dec. 20, not out of self-defense but because it was trying to eat whale meat that was improperly stored. Gordon left the bear’s carcass in his yard through most of the spring until it was burned at the village dump at the end of May, prosecutors say.

According to the charges, Gordon was qualified under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to harvest marine mammals for “subsistence or other purposes.” The law says that such actions are not to be done in a wasteful manner.

The charges state that Gordon did not use any of parts of the bear for subsistence purposes.

Kaktovik is a small Inupiaq village on the northern coast of Barter Island in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Last year, the Associated Press reported that the village was seeing a tourism boom as polar bears have been spending more time on land than on diminishing sea ice.

Federal officials could not provide additional information about the case as the investigation is still open.

Gordon’s arraignment and detention hearing has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 15 in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks.