Adventure show hosts pleads guilty in illegal hunting case
Jan. 08, 2016
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A former beauty queen who hosted an adventure TV show has pleaded guilty to killing an Alaska grizzly bear without a state hunting tag.
Theresa Vail was sentenced in state court Wednesday to one year of probation and a $750 fine. The sentence also included $1,300 restitution that could be split with the other defendants if they're convicted.
A second charge against her was dismissed.
Vail held a single, nonresident bear tag, according to a charging document. On a guided hunt last May, two bears_a male and a female— came into view. Investigators said she shot the male and attempted to kill it with a second shot, but instead killed the second bear. Both bears died.
The field guide, Joseph Andrew Miller, contacted master guide Michael Wade Renfro, and a collective decision was made to fly out another tag that Miller attached to the bear, a charging document in Vail's case states. Vail told an investigating wildlife trooper she signed the tag record May 27 but backdated it at Renfro's request, the document says.
Neither Miller nor Renfro contacted authorities to report the second bear, according to charging documents.
The cases against Renfro and Miller are pending; both face misdemeanor counts. The charge Vail pleaded to was a misdemeanor.
Renfro's attorney, Myron Angstman, said Thursday that from the outset, Renfro has accepted responsibility for his actions and regrets them. He said they are negotiating with the state and hope to reach a resolution "that everybody can live with."
The court system website does not list an attorney for Miller.
Vail, from Kansas, hosted the Outdoor Channel series "Limitless with Theresa Vail," which was listed as part of the channel's summer programming last year. She remains listed as a personality for the channel.
An Outdoor Channel spokesman referred a reporter Thursday to a statement the channel released last month, which said the channel is committed to legal, ethical hunting; that Vail and her production team alerted authorities to the situation in June; and that the hunt never aired on the channel.
Vail's attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, said Vail had wanted to report the violation but wound up signing the tag record. He said she was guilt-ridden after leaving Alaska and wanted to report the matter. That was done on her behalf, he said.
Prosecuting attorney Aaron Peterson, an assistant attorney general, said Vail also is required at the request of the state to come to Aniak, Alaska to testify on the state's behalf — "as many times as necessary, in as many cases as necessary"— at her own expense.