A production company and two cast members of the reality show "Alaska: The Last Frontier" each face a single misdemeanor charge after they reportedly used a helicopter for a 2014 black bear hunt, according to court documents filed by the Kenai district attorney's office.
Atz Lee Kilcher, 38; his wife, Cristina Jane Kilcher, a 40-year-old who goes by "Jane" on the show; and Wilma TV Inc. were each charged with one count of unlawful methods of taking or attempting to take big game by helicopter, according to charges filed July 13.
Wilma TV is an arm of Discovery Studios, which produces "Alaska: The Last Frontier" for Discovery Channel, according to an email from Sean Martin, director of communications for Discovery Channel. Martin declined to comment on the charges and wouldn't say whether the bear hunt and helicopter ride cited in the charges were ever shown on television.
Homer News first reported the charges against the Kilchers and Wilma TV last week.
Megan Peters, Alaska State Troopers spokesperson, said Tuesday that someone who had worked for the production company tipped off troopers about the hunt. According to the charges, the helicopter flight and bear hunt were done for the show and took place "on or about" Sept. 19, 2014, "at or near" Homer.
"When the footage came on, we saw it," Peters said. "We were able to investigate it after the fact."
Peters said no one involved in the hunt had contacted troopers ahead of time. She said evidence did not support charges against the helicopter company that took the Kilchers to the hunting site.
Under Alaska law, it is illegal to knowingly use a helicopter in any manner in the pursuit or retrieval of game. That includes using a helicopter to transport hunters, hunting gear or any unprocessed game to or from the field. The law does not apply to emergency rescue operations.
The charging document filed against Wilma TV says that the company "facilitated transportation" by helicopter for the Kilchers to participate in a bear hunt "as part of the television show 'Alaska: The Last Frontier.' " The charging documents filed against the Kilchers say the couple was transported by helicopter and "subsequently participated in a bear hunt" as part of the show.
Attempts to reach Atz Lee and Cristina Jane Kilcher on Monday and Tuesday were unsuccessful.
The couple co-star in "Alaska: The Last Frontier" with other members of the Kilcher family, including Atz Kilcher, the father of Atz Lee and singer-songwriter Jewel. The reality series, which first aired on Discovery Channel in 2011, "introduces viewers to the Kilcher family and their isolated community outside Homer, Alaska," according to the show's Facebook page.
"The Kilchers have cultivated and lived on their homestead for generations," it says. "These men and women of the wild live off the land, spending the limited months of summer and fall gardening, hunting and fishing for food, gathering supplies from the land and preparing their animals' safety in preparation for surviving the harsh Alaskan winters."
The next court date for Atz Lee Kilcher and Cristina Jane Kilcher is scheduled for Aug. 11. There is not a court date posted for Wilma TV.
According to Discovery Studios' website, "Alaska: The Last Frontier" will return for a fifth season in late 2015.
According to its business license, Wilma TV has a permanent address in Encino, California, and a mailing address in Juneau. Attempts to reach the production company were unsuccessful.