Moose Mamas director’s fate in board’s hands after bear kill
The executive director of an Anchorage-based moose rescue group is accused of falsifying records in the shooting of a black bear that killed moose calves at its facility last year – a case which could have repercussions for the non-profit.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers say Alaska Moose Mamas executive director Dana DeBernardi, 42, is charged with unsworn falsification and tampering with public records – both misdemeanors – in the June 2017 encounter.
“Investigation revealed that DeBernardi had falsified a black bear sealing certificate by claiming she had shot the bear and then fabricated a story on a defense of life or property form issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game about the sequence of events that led to the take of the bear,” troopers wrote in a dispatch on the case.
Bruce Dale, director of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation, said Tuesday that troopers had begun investigating the year-old shooting in response to an anonymous tip regarding it provided to Fish and Game.
A charging document in the June 10, 2017 case said DeBernardi had been in Glennallen retrieving a pair of moose calves when staff at Moose Mamas saw a bear enter an enclosure at the group’s Bear Valley facility and kill the two moose calves there.
“The bear left the enclosure and was leaving the property when someone shot and killed the bear,” prosecutors wrote. “When DeBernardi returned to Moose Mamas with the two new calves, the bear was already dead.”
Prosecutors didn’t say in the charging document who actually shot the bear.
At that point, DeBernardi allegedly told interns at the facility that she planned to tell Fish and Game she had shot the bear – telling them to delete any photos of the animal on their phones.
“DeBernardi instructed them that if anyone asked about the bear, they should state that she shot it,” prosecutors wrote. “DeBernardi also told them that they could go to jail because they were at the property when the bear was shot, but that they will be OK as long as there are no pictures of the bear.”
Two days later, DeBernardi brought the bear’s hide and skull to Fish and Game, claiming she had shot the animal. In the process, she filled out and signed a defense of life and property kill report, as well as a sealing certificate – a document which includes notification that false information entered on it is punishable under state law.
DeBernardi declined to further discuss the incident Tuesday but accepted full responsibility for what happened last June. She said the case might affect a pending recertification of the organization by Fish and Game to continue its mission – and that a Fish and Game official had contacted her at one point to offer recertification in exchange for her resignation.
Asked about that claim, Dale said he hadn’t heard of anyone at Fish and Game making such an offer to DeBernardi.
DeBernardi said she stood ready to resign if she was asked to do so at a Moose Mamas board meeting scheduled for Tuesday night.
Lauren Maxwell contributed information to this story.
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