By Adam Teten
Poachers in Montana end a six-year run on black bears with a single call to authorities.
From 2009-2014, poachers in Montana illegally harvested at least nine black bears in Ravalli and Beaverhead counties. A single phone call from the trio’s ringleader, James Harrison, reporting, ironically, the illegal baiting and harvesting of two bears by his hunting partners, led authorities to bring down the entire crew.
It was almost as if Harrison was trying to get caught.
According to “The Missoulan,”officials received an anonymous tip following Harrison’s call that he (Harrison) was the one responsible for baiting the bears. Photographic evidence of Harrison preparing a bait site ultimately sealed the charges brought against him.
What is being tagged as the largest bear poaching case in Montana history could result in a maximum of 45 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for Harrision. His accomplices, Richard Sublette and Kyle L. Whyard, received minimal jail sentences and combined fines totaling nearly $9,000. Both men also lose their hunting privileges for five years.
Using bait for bears or any predatory species in Montana is illegal.
Poaching is a crime that affects not only hunters, but all people that enjoy the bounty the great outdoors offers. If you witness or have information on illegal game harvesting tactics or events, contact your local fish and game or parks authorities.