By Don Mallicoat
Ten defendants were sentenced on Monday, June 10, 2013, in U.S. District Court for illegal hunting activities involving black bears and other wildlife and related offenses, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The sentences 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.
In February 2013, state and federal wildlife officials in North Carolina and Georgia announced the results of a four-year undercover investigation focused on illegal activities involving black 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. Primary violations documented by Operation Something Bruin stem from illegal bear hunting and poaching in North Carolina and Georgia, but include an array of state and federal wildlife and game law charges. The agencies involved in this investigation include state wildlife agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
When initially reported, I told you we would publish the names of those caught. From Robbinsville: Chad Burchfield, Patrick Burchfield, Jessie Jenkins, Kenneth Collins, Casey Collins, Michael Sellers, and Ricky Owens. Also sentenced were Robert Watson of Morganton, Terry Ratliff of Opelika, AL and Brian Quacca of Groesbeck, TX. Brent Fox of Morganton is awaiting sentencing.
Now the U.S. Court judge that sentenced them and Colonel Caveny of the WRC made a big deal of their sentencing sending a strong message to poachers. I spared you the individual sentencing details but in my mind the sentence did not fit the crime. After a multi-year/multiple agency operation the stiffest penalty I saw was a two year suspension of their hunting license. Some of them did not even have their license suspended. Yeah, they got thirty days in jail. But only two years on the license? In my mind their hunting privileges should have been permanently revoked. My money says they will be back at it in three years. More....