Oklahoma man receives fine, suspension of license for musk ox harvested on subsistence permit

Kotzebue (KTUU)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:01 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Oklahoma man was fined in Nome District Court after illegally harvesting a musk ox near Kotzebue in March 2020.

According to a press release from the Alaska Department of Law, 56-year-old Paul Dewitt Atkins — an outdoor writer and pro staffer — illegally harvested a musk ox while claiming residency in both Alaska and Oklahoma.

Atkins was ordered to pay $15,000 in total fines and had $23,000 in fines suspended. Atkins agreed to a plea agreement of three misdemeanors, including on one count of failure to comply with hunting permit conditions, one count of false information, and one count of illegally transporting game. Atkins’ hunting license in Alaska has been revoked for three years and will be on probation for another three years after that.

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Dupuis prosecuted the case.

“Wildlife is a vital Alaska resource. Our office will pursue and prosecute those who violate wildlife laws,” Dupuis said. “The investigation, prosecution and sentencing of Mr. Atkins sends a warning to others who may not consider the severity of illegally taking an Alaskan’s opportunity for a subsistence harvest.”

Alaska Wildlife Troopers initially received an anonymous tip in March 2020 that Atkins had harvested a musk ox illegally, and the Wildlife Investigation Unit then began a monthlong investigation. The investigation revealed that Atkins had harvested 29 animals on his Alaska hunting license, including nine musk oxen on a Tier II subsistence permit, given only to Alaska residents.

The release said that Atkins failed to comply with requirements of the permit “on numerous occasions,” which mandate that the “trophy value” of the animal be destroyed or cut within two inches of the eye prior to departing the site.

“Further investigation revealed that Atkins was claiming residency for hunting purposes in both Alaska and Oklahoma,” the release said.

The Alaska Department of Law’s Office of Special Prosecutions charged Atkins with 12 counts of hunting regulation violations in August 2021. The release states that Atkins forfeited 20 taxidermy items that were seized during the investigation.

Nome District Court Magistrate Pamela Smith accepted the three guilty pleas from Atkins.

“Mr. Atkins, I appreciate you taking responsibility for this. You are an experienced hunter and understand the consequences, I doubt I will be seeing you here again,” Smith said.

Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.