Reality TV stars plead not guilty to hunting violations

A Discovery Channel reality TV star facing a charge of using a helicopter in a bear hunt suffered injuries from a fall about 6 a.m. Monday morning at Otter Cove in Kachemak Bay. 

Atz Lee Kilcher, 38, had to be medevaced by LifeMed helicopter from the scene to a hospital, Alaska State Troopers said in a press release on Tuesday. Kilcher’s injuries made transportation by boat too painful, the release said.

In Homer Court on Tuesday morning, lawyers for Kilcher and his wife, Jane Kilcher, 40, entered not-guilty pleas on one charge each of using a helicopter to hunt black bear last fall. Lawyers for an Encino, Calif., production company, Wilma TV, also entered a not-guilty plea for a related charge of facilitating transportation to hunt by helicopter.

The charges stem from an episode of the Discovery Channel show, “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” in which Jane Kilcher hunts for a bear. In a criminal complaint filed in late July, Kenai assistant district attorney Nick Torres alleged that the Kilchers and Wilma TV violating Alaska game laws prohibiting the use of helicopters to hunt.

The incident came to light after someone with the production company for the show told troopers that a helicopter had been used in a black bear hunt, said Megan Peters, a trooper spokesperson. Troopers contacted the helicopter company involved and checked their records. She said the company had not been told a hunting trip was involved. The helicopter company has not been charged in the incident.

Because of Atz Lee Kilcher’s accident, Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy waived the rule that the Kilchers appear in person at their arraignment. Atz Lee Kilcher’s Anchorage lawyer, Patrick Bergt, appeared telephonically and told the court of the accident.

Murphy also released the Kilchers without bail and on their own recognizance. In the case of Wilma TV, Murphy didn’t set any conditions of release.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever even had a criminal case with a corporate defendant,” she said.

With other members of the extended Kilcher family, Atz Lee and Jane Kilcher appear on “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” a reality show about the family’s struggles to survive on the family homestead about 11 miles east of Homer off East End Road.

Jane Kilcher did not return a request for comment left on her cell phone. Otto Kilcher, Atz Lee’s uncle, returned a call, but said the Kilchers would not be likely to comment because of what he called tabloid journalism by the Homer News and the Alaska Dispatch.

Murphy scheduled the next court appearance for Wilma TV and the Kilchers at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 at the Homer Courthouse.