Bear poachers sent to prison

A U.S. District Court judge has sentenced 10 defendants for illegal hunting activities involving black bears and other wildlife and related offenses. The sentences, handed  down Monday, June 10,  are the result of “Operation Something Bruin,” a multi-agency initiative focused on the illegal poaching of bears and other wildlife in North Carolina and Georgia.

Most of the defendants are Robbinsville residents but a few are from out of state. They vary in age from 20 to 55 and their sentences range from prison time to fines and hunting license revocations. They are among the first offenders to be sentenced as a result of the operation that culminated in February. Another defendant entered a plea but is awaiting sentencing.

Operation “Something Bruin” was a four-year undercover investigation focused on illegal activities involving bears and other wildlife in North Carolina and Georgia. The multi-agency initiative was the largest of its kind in recent years and resulted in more than 80 wildlife violators and over 980 violations. The violations were primarily a result of illegal bear hunting and poaching in North Carolina and Georgia, but also included an array of state and federal charges.

Both state and federal law enforcement infiltrated poaching circles to document violations including bear baiting, illegal taking of bears, deer and other wildlife, illegal use of dogs, operation of illegal bear enclosures in North Carolina, and guiding hunts on national forest lands without the required permits.

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