Date set for Ted Nugent’s illegal black bear kill case

Musician, author and outdoor enthusiast Ted Nugent smiles on the set of his TV show, “Surviving Nugent” on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 17, 2004 near China Springs.McClatchy Newspapers
Musician, author and outdoor enthusiast Ted Nugent smiles on the set of his TV show, “Surviving Nugent” on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 17, 2004 near China Springs.
McClatchy Newspapers

By Rachel D’Oro
Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Rocker Ted Nugent is scheduled for a court hearing in Alaska on Tuesday, when he is expected to plead guilty to transporting a black bear he illegally killed.

The conservative activist and gun rights advocate signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that was filed Friday in U.S. District Court. Nugent was set to participate by telephone in Tuesday’s U.S. District Court proceeding in the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan, his attorney said.

The plea agreement says Nugent illegally shot and killed the bear in May 2009 on Sukkwan Island in southeast Alaska days after he wounded a bear in a bow hunt, which counted toward a state seasonal limit of one bear for that location. The agreement says Nugent knowingly possessed and transported the bear in misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act.

According to the agreement, the six-day hunt was filmed for Nugent’s Outdoor Channel television show “Spirit of the Wild.”

Nugent’s Anchorage attorney, Wayne Anthony Ross, said Monday that his client didn’t know he was breaking the law, which went into effect four or five years ago. Ross, an assistant hunting guide in Alaska, said he didn’t know about the rule either.

Besides, the first bear left only traces of blood, as if it had just been scraped by the projectile, according to Ross.

Nugent is going with a guilty plea, however, because “the law is the law,” Ross said.

“What are you going to do about it — a magician act?” he said. “The fact that we didn’t know about it doesn’t change it.”

Broadcasting footage of the hunt on his TV show also shows Nugent didn’t know he was in the wrong, said Ross, who sits with Nugent on the National Rifle Association’s board of directors.

“It’s kind of embarrassing for him because he practices ethical hunting and advocated ethical hunting and gets caught up in a crazy law that none of us have heard about,” Ross said.

A call seeking comment from assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt was not immediately returned Monday.

Nugent, who signed the document April 14, agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, according to the document, which says he also agreed to a two-year probation, including a special condition that he not hunt or fish in Alaska or Forest Service properties for one year. He also agreed to create a public service announcement that would be broadcast on his show every second week for one year, the document states.

Nugent also agreed to pay the state $600 for the bear that was taken illegally, according to the document.

A plea agreement would have to be approved by a judge. Nugent, famed for his 1977 hit “Cat Scratch Fever,” drew the attention of the Secret Service last week after he rallied support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and said of the Obama administration: “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.” His comments were made during a National Rifle Association meeting in St. Louis.

Nugent discussed the matter with two agents on Thursday while in Oklahoma, the singer said on his website. Nugent said he was just speaking figuratively and that he didn’t threaten anyone’s life or advocate violence.

A Secret Service spokesman has said the issue has been resolved. With hunting, Nugent has run afoul of the law before.

In August 2010, California revoked Nugent’s deer hunting license after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of deer-baiting and not having a properly signed tag.

Nugent’s loss of that deer hunting license through June 2012 allows 34 other states to revoke the same privilege under the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Each state, however, can interpret and enforce the agreement differently.