Federal, state officers catch bear poachers
State and federal wildlife officers are cracking down on bear poaching in western North Carolina and eastern Georgia.
Wednesday, authorities announced a multi-agency undercover operation that's been in the works for the past four years. The investigation, which was named Operation Something Bruin, yielded 80 wildlife violators and about 980 violations stemming mostly from illegal bear hunting.
Officers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 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.
They began making arrests Tuesday, although the names of those being charged have not yet been released.
Those who are convicted face possible jail time and a minimum fine of $2,000.
“Operation Something Bruin documented hundreds of wildlife violations. Today’s arrests bring an immediate halt to those crimes and, we hope, will make would-be violators think twice before breaking the law..." said Col. Dale Caveny, law enforcement chief for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service were also involved in the investigation.
According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, fewer than 10 percent of all wildlife crimes are reported. Wildlife officers ask anyone who sees what they think could be a violation to call 1-800-662-7137.