ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska master hunting guide has been charged with using assistants on snowmobiles to herd grizzly bears toward clients, making it easier for hunters to shoot the animals.

Brian Simpson, 55, of Fairbanks, also is charged with guiding on a national preserve without a permit.

Simpson’s company is Wittrock Outfitters-Alaska. Messages left with the business Thursday and Friday were not returned. Online court documents do not list his attorney.

Simpson is charged with two counts of aiding in the commission of a state game violation and three counts of guiding on federal land without authorization. All five counts are misdemeanors.

Two assistant guides working for Simpson are charged with using motorized vehicles to drive or herd game.

The charges stem from spring hunting trips last year in western Alaska, according the Office of Special Prosecutions.

In a complaint filed last week, prosecutors said hunting clients Larry Werth and Michael Walker in April 2016 arrived in Shishmaref and traveled to Serpentine Hot Springs within Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

On April 26, according to the complaint, the hunting party spotted a bear and Simpson ordered an assistant to “turn it around.” The assistant used a snowmobile to chase the bear in deep snow, trailing from 30 yards (27 meters) behind, until it was tired. The assistant guide then chased the bear toward the hunter. Werth shot the bear from 150 yards (137 meters) away.

A similar scenario played out two days later, according to the complaint.

After a hunting party guided by Simpson spotted a bear, a second assistant guide chased the animal with a snowmobile, cut it off from escaping and herded it toward the hunting party. Walker shot the second bear.

The assistant guide told an investigating trooper that chasing bears with snowmobiles was common practice in hunts guided by Simpson.

An arraignment for Simpson is scheduled for Sept. 15 in Nome.

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DAN JOLING
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