In the Sportsman Channel show Syndicate Hunting, Clark Dixon is featured as an Alaskan hunting guide. Viewers follow his adventures leading hunts for big game animals such as grizzly bear, moose, caribou and Dall sheep.
The only problem is that all of those hunts featured on TV were illegal, according to a federal indictment by the US Attorney’s office in Alaska.
US Attorney Karen Loeffler outlined the case against nine participants of the show and two production companies during a press conference this week and corresponding press release. The charges date back to 2010 and occurred over a five years period involving up to two dozen animals on four separate hunts, federal prosecutors allege.
As a result of the charges, the Sportsman Channel announced it would suspend the show entirely, CEO and President of Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks Jim Liberatore said in a statement according to Alaska Dispatch News.
“Sportsman Channel is aware of the charges leveled yesterday in Alaska against Syndicate Hunting and is conducting an internal investigation of this matter,” Liberatore said. “We take this situation very seriously and have acted swiftly to suspend the show, its producers and talent. If true, what has been alleged is clearly unacceptable, unethical and against everything our networks stand for.”
While most of the hunts took place in the Noatak National Preserve in Northwest Alaska, the investigation involved a great deal of ground work over multiple states.
Prosecutors allege that Clark Dixon ran an illegal camp in the preserve and was never an Alaskan resident. Nonetheless he aided hunters lacking in proper tags and did not possess a guiding license. Episodes of the show included illegal hunts, they said, but were edited to make them look legal.
Charged along with Dixon is his father, 70-year-old Charles Dixon, and seven other participants. Because Dixon’s aircraft was involved in the alleged poaching, it was also seized. Clark Dixon, 41, has been charged with two felony violations while the others face misdemeanors or fines. Two production companies were also cited for filming and airing video without a commercial permit.
In a statement issued a day later, producers said they cooperated fully with the investigation and although disheartened, they accept the network’s decision.
“It is also very important that our fans, supporters, hunting family and the Sportsman Channel clearly understand that once Syndicate Hunting was made aware of of the investigation into the alleged illegal hunting, ethics and methods violations of Clark Dixon and Lance Walker we immediately terminated our relationship with them,” the statement said.
This is not the first time a reality TV star has been accused of poaching during a hunt that aired on television. Rock star and notorious hunter Ted Nugent paid a $10,000 fine for an illegal bow hunt that aired on Nugent’s Outdoor channel.
Jim West, who appeared on Animal Planet’s Wild West Alaska pled guilty to four hunting violations. And the family featured in Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People face issues related to their residency status, which includes hunting and fishing licenses.
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