Men caught on camera killing hibernating bear and her cubs

A wildlife camera has captured the moment a pair of hunters fatally shot a hibernating bear and her two cubs.

Father and son Andrew and Owen Renner were caught shooting the bears  in Alaska in April 2018. They pleaded guilty to poaching and were sentenced in January, KTUU-TV reports.

The pair skied up to a den, where they shot inside with a large shotgun. The bear cubs can be heard screaming at the shooting, but soon stop.

Andrew eventually pulled out the carcass of the mother and the pair high fived each other across it. Owen said the authorities would not be able to link them to the crime.

"We go where we want to kill," he later added.

The pair butchered the mother bear's carcass and presented it to the Alaska's wildlife agency as a legal kill.

They returned to the den a few days later to remove the cub's bodies and gun shell casings.

It's currently illegal to hunt female bears with cubs.

Andrew received a fine of $12,700 (NZ$18,670) and was sentenced to three months in prison, while his son received community service.

The Humane Society of America shared footage of the incident, saying moves are currently being made to overturn the laws protecting bears with cubs.

"If this heinous cruelty occurs while protections are already in place, overturning them would all but encourage these massacres to continue," it said. 

"We need more federal protections, not less, to ensure that these types of cruel and horrific activities are banned for good."