By Melissa Anderson
An undercover operation conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has netted two two people on charges of illegal possession of two bears and bear parts.
David Hong and Heng Huang, owners of the New Hunan Restaurant, pleaded guilty on Monday in Helena Justice Court to buying the animals illegally.
The two pleaded guilty to six counts of unlawful possession of black bear from purchases made since May of 2013.
The couple received a combined fine of nearly $5,000, and received a three-year suspended jail sentence, with a six-year forfeiture of hunting privileges.
The woman claimed through her attorney that she had hip problems and was using the parts to treat her medical condition.
"When we executed the search warrant we did recover multiple black bear parts, including the carcasses that were butchered and were being kept in a freezer. We collected the black bear gallbladders which were being dried at the residence, and then at the restaurant we found the five gallon container of black bear paws," said FWP warden Sergeant Dave Loewen.
Although the bear parts and meat were found stored at the couple's home and their restaurant freezer, FWP said they did not find any proof that the bear had been sold or distributed.
Loewen says sale of illegally obtained game and game trafficking is the fourth largest international crime.