By Michael Biesecker
A federal magistrate sentenced eight men to prison for poaching bears and deer and other illegal hunting activities in national forests in North Carolina and Georgia. U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins from the Western District of North Carolina said Friday the convictions were the result of a four-year undercover investigation called Operation Something Bruin. Officers from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, U.S. Forest Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources used social media to infiltrate poaching circles and document violations.
Most of the defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced this week, with eight receiving prison terms of up to 30 days.
"We anticipate that the success of Operation Something Bruin will send a strong message to poachers and would-be violators to think twice before they engage in illegal hunting activities," Tompkins said. "Together with our federal and state law enforcement partners we will combine forces to combat illegal hunting, protect our wildlife and conserve our natural resources."
Officials announced in February that the operation had netted 81 people on a total of 980 violations that included bear baiting, the illegal use of dogs, operating illegal bear enclosures and hunting on federal lands without required permits. The offenses occurred in the Nantahala National Forest and Pisgah National Forest.
Those sentenced this week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell include Chad Burchfield, 34; Patrick Burchfield, 24; Jessie Jenkins, 23; all of Robbinsville, N.C. They pleaded guilty to hunting feral swine at night and were sentenced to 30 days in prison and prohibited from hunting or fishing for two years. More....