Skip to main site content.
The Outdoor Channel

Big game

Former Miss Kansas in hot water for killing grizzly bear in Alaska

By WITW Staff on December 10, 2015

A former beauty queen has been charged by authorities in Alaska with illegally killing a grizzly bear earlier this year. Theresa Vail, 25, the former Miss Kansas, was named in a criminal complaint along with two men — a master guide who escorted her on a bear hunt, and his assistant — for their role in an incident that unfolded back in May. Vail, who made headlines in 2013 when she became the first Miss America contestant to show her tattoos, now hosts an adventure show on the Outdoor Channel.

Alaska officials accuse Vail of killing two grizzly bears during a weeklong hunting expedition in May, while only being in possession of a permit, or “state bear tag,” that allowed for the killing of one bear. The charges stem from some alleged skullduggery that occurred after the second bear was killed and was meant to cover up the fact that the hunting group didn’t have the proper permits. Vail, Michael Wade Renfro and Joseph Andrew Miller are charged with illegally killing a bear, and Vail is also charged with unsworn falsification, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors say Vail shot and struck a bear, then fired a second shot to kill the bear and missed — but hit a second bear that was behind the bear that had already been shot. Both bears ended up dying from their bullet wounds. After the fact, prosecutors say, Renfro and Miller aided Vail in forging documents to give the appearance that she had obtained the proper permit for the second bear.

The Associated Press spoke to Myron Angstman, a lawyer representing Renfro, the master guide. “It’s an unfortunate event,” Angstman told the AP. “It was an accidental shooting of a second bear while a person was lawfully engaged in shooting a first bear,” he said. “Those kinds of things happen once in a great while.” The lawyer, who seemed to speak more freely about his client’s case than most attorneys typically do, went on to admit errors in judgment were made after the killing of the second bear.

The incident doesn’t appear to be threatening the TV career of Vail at the moment. A spokesperson for the Outdoor Channel told the AP that Vail was upfront with network executives and alerted them and authorities about the mishap shortly after it happened. He said footage from that hunt has never aired.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.


Woman’s hunting photos on Facebook spark fury