Hunting charges dismissed against Kilchers

Charges that they used a helicopter to hunt for black bear have been dismissed against Atz Lee and Jane Kilcher, a Homer couple who star in the reality TV show “Alaska: The Last Frontier.” Alaska Wildlife Troopers alleged that the Kilchers had been transported by helicopter to Bradley Lake in September 2014 to hunt for black bear as part of an episode later broadcast in January 2015. 

The production company that filmed the episode, Wilma TV of Encino, Calif., pleaded guilty to an amended charge, a violation of using an unlawful method to take or attempt to take game. Using a helicopter in any manner to hunt is illegal under Alaska law. In a sentencing hearing on Feb. 16, Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy fined Wilma TV $17,500 for the violation. As part of the dismissal of the charges, Jane Kilcher, 41, and Atz Lee Kilcher, 39, agreed to testify against Wilma TV if needed, said Jane Kilcher’s lawyer, Kevin Fitzgerald.

In an affidavit filed last October by Alaska Wildlife Trooper Trent Chwialkowski, he wrote that a Homer man hired by Wilma TV to work as a medic on the filming made a complaint in September 2014 that there might have been a hunting violation. Chwialkowski said the medic told him a Wilma TV producer warned the medic not to tell the helicopter company contracted for the filming that there would be hunting. The medic wound up not working on the project.

Chwialkowski saw the episode, “Fall Bear Fall,” in January 2015, and said the episode shows the Kilchers shooting at a black bear. Chwialkowski contacted the helicopter company. The company confirmed flying the Kilchers and the production crew to Bradley Lake, but said they had no knowledge of a planned hunting trip. Chwialkowski talked to two Wilma TV producers and he said they told him they had used a floatplane to hunt in an earlier episode and thought using a helicopter was the same thing and not an issue. 

When Chwialkowski interviewed the Kilchers, he said the couple told him they had been under pressure from the producers to get a bear. Atz Lee Kilcher “told the producers that it was illegal to go over by helicopter; they said he should just go and it will work out,” Chwialkowski wrote in his affidavit.

Fitzgerald said Jane Kilcher didn’t commit a crime. 

“The charge against them concerned the take of a black bear,” he said. “A black bear was never taken.”

Fitzgerald said the episode purported to show the Kilchers going after an animal.

“Though they saw an animal, there was no attempt to take that specific animal,” Fitzgerald said. “Sometimes, even reality TV isn’t what actually occurs.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

More in News

Dollynda Phelps discusses current issues in the cannabis industry with local business owners on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Cannabis industry meeting raises concerns over Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office

Cannabis cultivators, retailers and consumers squeezed into a small Kenai living room… Continue reading

The wall of the Red Chris tailings pond is a little less than 350 feet, or about the height of a 35-story building. It follows the same design as the Mount Polley tailings dam, which broke in 2014, sending 24 million cubic meters of toxic mine tailings into the Fraser River watershed. It is designed, however, to hold 305 million cubic meters of mine waste — seven times more than Mount Polley. Both mines are owned by Imperial Metals. (Courtesy Photo | Garth Lenz via Salmon State)
Transboundary mine faces $200-million cash crunch

With a strike, falling copper prices and more than $554-million ($723 million… Continue reading

Niko Mogar is shown in a June 2018 booking photo. (Photo provided, Homer Police)
Police arrest Homer area thief on new counts

A man charged last month with burglary and vehicle theft faces new… Continue reading

Homer area residents listen to the Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting at Homer City Hall in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Residents talk Kachemak Selo school at assembly

While no major action was taken at Tuesday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly… Continue reading

Ken Castner III answers a question at a city council and mayoral candidate forum Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 at Alice’s Champagne Palace in Homer, Alaska. Castner is running for Homer mayor. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Castner running for mayor to promote unity

Although Ken Castner has served on numerous city commissions, committees and task… Continue reading

Homer area school announcements

Homer High School Friday — Homecoming football game against Seward High School… Continue reading

David Lewis, a former member of the Homer City Council, makes his final remarks during his last meeting as a council member Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 in Cowles Council Chambers in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Lewis takes second try at Homer mayor

Veteran Homer City Council member David Lewis will take another run for… Continue reading

Borough elections 2018: What you need to know

In between the August primary election and the November general election, Homer… Continue reading

Supreme Court finds Griswold due process rights violated

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from… Continue reading

Most Read