Patten trio fined for hunting violations in Alaska
December 08, 2007 - Bangor Daily News
PATTEN - Three local people were hit with hefty fines and will spend
the next 10 years on probation with the state of Alaska after pleading
no contest to numerous hunting and outfitting violations in that state.
Lester Conklin, his wife, Marie Conklin, and their son, Jason
Conklin, all of Patten, pleaded no contest Dec. 3 to multiple charges of
illegal outfitting and illegal bear baiting during a court hearing in
Alaska. Lester Conklin also pleaded no contest to taking a brown bear
without a guide and un-sworn falsification.
All three together will pay a total of $70,000 in fines. The three
also received jail sentences that ranged from 70 to 300 days, but all of
that time was suspended.
All three were placed on probation for 10 years. Lester Conklin lost
hunting privileges in Alaska for five years, as well as big game guiding
privileges for 10 years. He also lost bear baiting privileges in that
state for 10 years.
Marie Conklin lost hunting privileges in Alaska for 10 years and big
game guiding privileges for 10 years. She also lost bear baiting
privileges for 10 years.
Jason Conklin lost hunting privileges for 10 years and fishing
privileges for five years. He also lost big game guiding privileges for
10 years in Alaska.
Lester Conklin also was ordered to forfeit a boat, boat motor and
recreational vehicle with the option to buy back the items for a total
of $6,000. He was ordered to forfeit a black bear and a brown bear and
also was ordered to pay $1,900 restitution to the state of Alaska for
the two animals.
All of the charges against the Conklins were misdemeanors, according
to Alaska State Trooper Katrina Malm.
Capt. Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service said Friday that the
violations in Alaska do not affect the Conklinsí hunting and fishing
rights in Maine.
According to a statement from the Alaska Department of Public Safety,
the investigation into the case began in 2005
during a check of bear bait stations by Alaska Wildlife Troopers in
the field at Conklinís Lodge and Camps at Donkey Creek Lake in Skwentna,
Alaska. The Wildlife Investigations Unit continued the investigation.
According to police, the family established the lodge in Alaska a few
years ago, and also run a similar business in Patten.
The Conklins were alleged to have outfitted several clients with
"black-bear over bait" hunts at the lodge in Alaska in 2005 and 2006.
They also were reportedly providing tree stands and a boat for clients,
but did not have the commercial big game guide-outfitter license needed
to conduct outfitting services.
While the Conklins registered for bear bait sites in Alaska, their
bait stations were not located at least 1 mile from a dwelling or
residence as required by that stateís law, according to investigators.
Officials said the Conklinsí bear bait stations were within a quarter of
a mile to a half a mile from the lodge and scent lures had been
established on the grounds of the lodge. Police said the Conklins
actively baited bears to their lodge in 2005 and 2006 and used a
recreational vehicle to facilitate the movement of bait to their sites.
Investigators also said that, during the time the Conklins were
actively baiting at the lodge and at bait sites, Lester Conklin killed a
brown bear without a guide.
Malm said Thursday she joined Alaska Wildlife Troopers and officials
from the Maine Warden Service in August 2006 to serve a search warrant
at the Conklinsí facility in Patten. A search warrant also was served at
the lodge in Alaska, where the Conklins were at the time.
Malm said that evidence seized from the Patten lodge, including
forensic computer evidence, showed the Conklins had conducted research
on Alaskaís hunting regulations prior to taking on customers at their
Alaska lodge, leading police to believe the Conklins knew their
activities in Alaska were illegal.
In their press release, the Alaska Wildlife Troopers said Jason
Conklin committed several sport fish guiding violations but was not
charged with those violations as part of a plea agreement. They also
said Lester and Marie Conklin committed several sport fishing violations
just prior to purchasing the Alaska lodge but they were not charged with
those violations as part of a plea agreement.
At this point, Lester and Marie Conklin could potentially conduct
sport fishing operations at their Alaska lodge, but Malm said Thursday
the area is not a prime spot for salmon fishing, which is popular in
Contacted Thursday in Patten, Lester Conklin said he had no comment
about the charges and referred questions to Michael McDonough, his
attorney in Alaska. A message left for McDonough was not returned by
Malm credited the Maine Warden Service with assisting in the Maine
part of the investigation.
Jen Lynds may be reached at 532-9257 or via e-mail at