Idaho man owes $22,000, is banned from hunting in Alaska after illegal bear hunts
Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman)– An Idaho man who pleaded guilty to illegally guiding hunts in Alaska is banned from ever hunting in the state again, according to court documents and a news release from the National Park Service.
Paul Silvis, of Nampa, was sentenced to six months of house arrest and 100 hours of community service and has a lifetime ban on hunting in Alaska, according to a judgment handed down Jan. 22. He also must write an article for a hunting periodical detailing his crimes, and he owes $20,000 in fines and $2,000 in restitution to individuals who say Silvis never led them on hunts for which they paid deposits.
According to court documents, Silvis’ article will run in “The Alaska Professional Hunter Association Magazine” and contain an apology to Alaskans and those in the outfitting and guiding profession. It will read as follows:
“My name is Paul Brian Silvis. Over 2009 to 2016, I violated federal and State of Alaska wildlife laws in and around the Noatak National Preserve. Using the name ‘Orion Outfitters,’ I guided brown bear and moose hunters without being a registered guide-outfitter or having the appropriate hunting and business licenses. This included filing false paperwork with the State of Alaska, which concealed the illegal nature of the hunts. The Alaska Wildlife Troopers and National Park Service investigated my crimes. I apologize to all Alaskans, and all honest hunters and guides. This message was ordered by the Court as part of my sentence for violating the Lacey Act. It is a federal crime to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate commerce, any fish or wildlife taken in violation of state or federal law.”
Last October, Silvis pleaded guilty to two felony counts of violating the Lacey Act, a federal law regulating trade and transportation of wildlife. Two other counts were dropped as part of his guilty plea. The $20,000 he pays toward fines will go to the Lacey Act Reward Fund.
Idaho man led several illegal hunts for grizzlies, moose
Officials initially said Silvis, 52, led bear and moose hunts in the Noatak National Preserve in 2013 and 2014 without obtaining a license to outfit or guide in the state. According to the National Park Service news release, “from 2009 through 2014, Silvis conducted an illegal hunting guide operation for clients from Idaho, Utah, Montana, and several other states in previous years.”
While it’s legal to hunt brown bears on the preserve, nonresident hunters must contract with licensed Alaska guides or be closely related to an Alaska resident. Officials said Silvis got two Alaska brown bear tags through a scheme with a former colleague.
“Silvis and his former colleague declared themselves brothers-in-law and would obtain two brown bear tags, one by the Alaska resident and one by Silvis claiming to be the brother-in-law,” the National Park Service news release said. “The investigation was never able to prove the former colleague of Silvis ever became an actual Alaska resident per hunting regulations.”
Silvis’ clients would kill the bears, then Silvis would falsify records submitted to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He also sent false information to the agency regarding moose hunts. Officials said many of the moose harvested by his clients were never reported to the agency.
“The investigation uncovered eight brown bears and four moose that were illegally taken within hunting seasons of 2012, 2013, and 2014. Information developed during the investigation revealed that other co-conspirators and clients were suspected of illegally harvesting animals prior to 2012,” the news release said.
Silvis reportedly made more than $121,000 for the illegal hunts.