Kasilof couple charged with federal regulations violations for illegal commercial game transportation in Noatak National Preserve

Kotzebue, Alaska (KINY) – A Kasilof couple was charged with multiple federal regulation violations related to alleged illegal commercial transportation of game hunters in Alaska following a multi-year investigation by National Park Service (NPS) rangers.

According to court documents, Matthew Owen, 66, illegally transported caribou hunters in the Noatak National Preserve, located in northwest Alaska, in 2019 and 2020.

The transportation was connected to a commercial entity and violated multiple federal regulations regarding commercial activity on NPS land.

Mr. Owen is charged with one count of false information, in violation of 36 CFR §2.32(a)(3)(ii); 10 counts of engaging in business without a permit, in violation of 36 CFR §5.3; and three counts failure to follow a lawful order, in violation of 36 CFR §2.32.

Additionally, Julie Owen, 60, is charged with one count of false information, in violation of 36 CFR §2.32(a)(3)(ii), and one count of violation of provisions of a permit, in violation of 36 CFR §5.3.

If convicted, the defendants face six months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for each charge.

The defendants could also be required to pay all costs of the legal proceedings as part of their sentence.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

“Hunting is critical to subsistence and is a key piece of Alaskan culture. Hunting, and all associated activities, must be done legally and in accordance with regulations,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker of the District of Alaska. “Our office will continue to work closely with the National Park Service and our other wildlife law enforcement partners to uphold the relevant rules and regulations related to hunting on public land.”

“Caribou are a vital species in the ecosystem and for communities in Northwest Alaska,” said Western Arctic National Parklands Superintendent Ray McPadden. “Caribou are protected within Noatak National Preserve. Our team takes all possible hunting violations seriously and goes to great lengths to make sure folks are doing the right thing.”

NPS is responsible for managing natural resources and permitting all commercial activity within Noatak National Preserve; NPS Law Enforcement Rangers actively patrol parklands and investigate suspected violations of Federal laws and regulations.

The NPS takes all suspected violations seriously and encourages the public to report potential crimes and suspicious activity to the NPS Crime Tip Line at 1-888-653-0009 or online at go.nps.gov/SubmitATip or by email at nps_isb@nps.gov.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carly Vosacek is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.