Troopers Issue Citation in Attempt to Poison Bears

Sentinel Staff Writer
    Alaska Wildlife Troopers have charged a Sea Mountain golf course groundskeeper with attempting to poison bears, which led to the deaths of two dogs that were running at large in the vicinity.
    Kevin N. Taranoff, 31, was cited Wednesday for using unlawful methods and means to take big game. The citation said he knowingly attempted to kill brown bears at the golf course “by the use of poisonous chemicals.” He is to appear in court Nov. 12.
    “Defendant killed two dogs in the process, and later admitted to fellow employees that he attempted to poison brown bears,” the citation said.
    Taranoff is the groundskeeper at Sea Mountain Golf Course, but the Sitka Golf Association board, which is in charge of the golf course, had not authorized the use of poison to kill bears, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Jake Abbott said.
    “(Taranoff) was acting on his own,” Abbott said.
    Abbott said today that for the past week he had been investigating the deaths of the two dogs that were believed to have been poisoned near the golf course. Both dogs became sick after running off-leash, separately, on Oct. 14. They were taken to the same veterinary clinic on Oct. 15 and they died the same day. Veterinarian Vicky Vosburg suspected the dogs had been poisoned.
    Abbott said he had a lead on his investigation by a comment Taranoff allegedly made to Fish and Game Wildlife biologist Phil Mooney sometime previously when Mooney responded to a complaint from the golf course that bears were ripping up ball cups on the practice green at the course. Mooney set a live trap for the bear.
    “One of the employees made a comment, if they didn’t take care of it, he would, so we had a suspicion,” Abbott said. The bear tripped the trap without being caught, Mooney said today.
    Abbott said his investigation indicates Taranoff had put out food laced with antifreeze.
    “He was intentionally trying to poison brown bears; I don’t think he was trying to poison dogs,” Abbott said.

    Mooney today said there had been a number of complaints at the golf course about a bear getting into garbage and destroying property. He said residents are allowed to kill bears in defense of life and property, but the use of poison is not allowed.
    When asked for a comment today, Taranoff would only say that the signs outside the golf course “were placed there for a reason.”

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