The Anchorage Daily News reports Jim West, the 60-year-old mustachioed weapons aficionado at the center of the rough-edged reality TV show, "Wild West Alaska," faces a slew of criminal hunting charges.
Alaska State Troopers allege that West personally killed a bear during a guided hunt, helped a client kill a moose inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve without permission and guided numerous black bear hunts on Native corporation lands, also without permission.
Troopers seized West's Cessna 185 floatplane as part of their investigation.
"Wild West Alaska," on the Animal Planet network, focuses on the Anchorage store West founded in 1992, Wild West Guns, which is billed as Alaska's largest custom rifle and handgun shop. West, who owns the Klutina Lodge in Copper Center near Wrangell-St. Elias, is also a state-registered big game guide.
The show spotlights the gun store and a colorful cast of clients and employees, gunsmithing and wilderness hunting and fishing.
The troopers are the subject of a reality show, too. "Alaska State Troopers" airs on the National Geographic Channel.
It's tempting to turn the showdown between West and the state into a reality TV smackdown, but the case started before West's show hit the small screen this year.
The state's investigation began in 2011, when West got sideways with Ahtna Inc., the Glennallen-based Native regional corporation that owns 600,000 acres in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the rugged territory that surrounds West's lodge.
Brent Cole, an Anchorage attorney representing West, said this week he couldn't comment specifically on the charges against West until he finishes his own investigation. But Cole said the troopers were especially heavy-handed in filing criminal charges against his client.
"They could have written a letter. They could have filed a civil suit," he said. "They could have handled this through administrative processes, any number of things."
A spokesman for Animal Planet provided only a brief comment on behalf of the network this week: "Animal Planet is surprised about the charges against Jim West and the network currently is looking into the matter."
The Animal Planet website still says the show's second season will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 13.