Judge finds biologist not guilty of charges

After a one-day, non-jury trial, Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy on Jan. 9 found an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist not guilty of taking moose using illegal methods or means and unlawful possession of game, both minor offenses. Jason Herreman, 33, had earlier pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Herreman is the Kenai assistant area biologist for the Homer office of Fish and Game and had been placed on administrative leave when charges were filed Sept. 17. Herreman has been reinstated in his job and will return to work after a vacation, said Larry Van Dale, Fish and Game regional supervisor, Kodiak.

“He was found not guilty and he’s pretty happy,” said Herreman’s lawyer, Myron Angstman of Anchorage.

In charging documents, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Trent Chwialkowski said Herreman had gone hunting on Aug. 23 and shot a moose near Anchor Point but lost it. The state alleged that on Aug. 24 Herreman went back to search for the moose and had an air taxi pilot help him search for it. 

The pilot had limited radio communication with Herreman, the complaint said. Chwialkowski said he went to the area and found Herreman packing out the moose. The trooper said Herreman admitted shooting a moose on Aug. 23 and shooting what he believed to be the same moose on Aug. 24.

Herreman had been charged with a section prohibiting the take of game with the use of radio communication. Angstman said hunting regulations prohibit using a radio to aid in the taking of a moose. At trial, he said he raised the issue of if it would be OK to use a radio to talk about football scores or communicate weather information.

“There are all sorts of situations that are not clearly defined in our regulations,” Angstman said. “Here we didn’t have any communication to Mr. Herreman as to where the moose was that he ended up shooting.”

Judge Murphy agreed with the defense that there was no evidence showing the use of a radio to aid in taking a moose, Angstman said. On that basis, the second charge of transporting moose taken in a violation was dropped.