MARYVILLE, TN - At the culmination of extended surveillance of an illegal bait site on Chilhowee Mtn., TWRA Officers apprehended and charged five individuals with violations associated with the illegal hunting and killing of a black bear last night.
Working on information received, officers began watching several bait sites with suspicions of illegal bear hunting before the season's open, which will occur on Sept. 30.
Wildlife Officers Mitch Clure, Jeff Pearce, Anthony Chitwood, Clint Smith, Sgt. Joe Durnin, staked out the site where hunters turned dogs loose in an area near barrels baited with chocolate candy. Just before midnight, a 400 lb. male black bear was illegally killed by the hunters after being treed by the pursuing dogs.
The Officers confronted two suspects in the woods as they were transporting the bear, which had been freshly skinned and cut into quarters. One of the two subjects then fled the scene and later surrendered to the Officers.
The Officers then called in some additional help including Sgt. Ben Davis and his K9 partner Levee, to assist in evidence recovery. A .30-30 caliber center-fire rifle, which had been hidden by the suspects, was collected and seized as evidence as well as the bear, some knives, and tracking equipment.
Prior to the investigation, Officers discovered that one subject had been previously charged by the TWRA with wildlife violations and another subject was hunting while his privileges were revoked out of Illinois, which is a member of the Wildlife Violator Compact. This compact means that if a person has had their hunting privileges revoked in a member state, then their privileges are revoked in all participating states.
In total, 26 charges were placed including violations of: Illegal Hunting and Killing of a black bear in closed season; Possession of an illegally killed black bear; Use of bait to hunt black bear; Use of a center-fire rifle at night; Refusing Inspection; Resisting stop, halt, and frisk; Aggravated criminal littering; and Hunting on a revoked license. Ten additional warning citations will also be issued at a later time.
Officer's Clure and Pearce made the following statement, "Hunting bears that are unnaturally habituated to human foods is a cowardly way to harvest. These habituated bears can be dangerous to humans and seasons are established for biological reasons. When caught killing bears in the closed season, the TWRA will prosecute illegal hunters to the fullest extent of the law. We also appreciate the assistance that we received by the Blount Co. Sheriff's Office."
For more info on Bear hunting in Tennessee visit: http://www.tn.gov/twra/bearseasons.html