Reward Upped to $20,000 in Malicious Destruction of NC Black Bear(Charlotte, NC, June 21, 2013) The North Carolina Wildlife Federation has raised the stakes in the recent blatant destruction of a black bear in Buncombe County. A reward pool of $3,000 has been offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service. That amount has been bumped significantly to $20,000 with the $17,000 addition from the Wildlife Federation. The conservation organization has pledged up to the new amount to a person(s) who provides information about the bear mauling and desecration that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, a civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property by the subject or subjects responsible.
“We feel strongly that this malicious and cowardly act of illegal activity has no place in NC,” said Tim Gestwicki, CEO of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “We are upping the ante to hopefully entice anyone with information to come forth. We are providing these resources to underscore the seriousness we place on the poaching and outright desecration of this animal.”
The bear carcass, marked in white paint, was dumped and found this week on a road in Buncombe County. “WHATS BRUIN?” was written across the head and “w-h-a-t-s” across the claws on the right paw and “b-r-u-i-n” across the claws on the left paw. The state is currently prosecuting cases from Operation Something Bruin, a multi-agency law enforcement initiative focused on the illegal poaching of bears and other wildlife, at the Haywood County Courthouse.
“We hope the investigation yields results and that the message is crystal clear: poaching, destroying wildlife in any ways, especially cowardly acts of wanton waste in North Carolina, will not be tolerated,” says Gestwicki. “We condemn in full any illegal wildlife violations and remain resolved to assisting state and federal agencies in upholding the regulations and guiding principles of fish and wildlife management.”
In February 2013, state and federal wildlife officials announced the arrests from the four-year undercover investigation in North Carolina and Georgia. Ten defendants were convicted earlier this month in U.S. District Court for federal charges stemming from the undercover investigation.
Operation Something Bruin involved law enforcement from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Forest Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
“We are committed to pursuing all leads as we continue this investigation,” says Colonel Dale Caveny of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement. “We hope that this significant addition to the reward fund will prompt someone to come forward with additional information that will help us bring criminal charges in this case.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission toll free wildlife violations number at 1-800-662-7137. Any awarded monies do not have to be made public to anonymous tips.