By Clarke Morrison
A judge sentenced 10 men for poaching wildlife and other illegal hunting activities on national forests in Western North Carolina, law enforcement officials announced Friday.The arrests were the result of a four-year undercover investigation called Operation Something Bruin in which officers infiltrated poaching circles to document violations, said Anne Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
The defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Bryson City by Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell. Seven of the men received 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 undercover operation had netted 81 wildlife violators and some 980 violations in Western North Carolina and northern Georgia. About 100 wildlife officers began serving warrants at the time.
Posing as hunters and using social media to make contacts, officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources infiltrated groups suspected of poaching. More....