By Kelly Burgess
A Pennsylvania hunter is facing poaching charges after admitting to shooting a 707-pound black bear over a bait pile of pastries.
With the opening of the statewide bear-hunting season nearing, Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Cory Bentzoni became suspicious when he saw a truck loaded with pastries last month.
"Being that we were so close to bear season, seeing that person drive by with an unusual amount of pastries was like watching an individual go down a row of parked vehicles testing each handle to see if it were open," Bentzoni said in a department press release. "Something just didn't seem right.
"Bentzoni noted the license plate of the truck and found it registered not to Homer Simpson but to Charles Olsen Jr., of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He then contacted all Game Commission personnel at area bear-check stations and asked them to notify him if Olsen brought a bear in.
Olsen did bring a bear to a station, and not just any bear but one with an estimated live weight of 707 pounds -- the largest of the season.
An officer confronted Olsen, telling him that "there might be a problem with this bear." Olsen confessed that he had killed the animal over a bait pile.
"What is most unfortunate is that law-abiding bear hunters in the area were robbed of the opportunity to legally harvest truly a trophy bear," said Northeast region law enforcement supervisor Dan Figured. "It was thanks to the quick thinking of an observant wildlife conservation officer that helped resolve this case."
If guilty, Olsen faces fines and penalties ranging from $500 to $1,500 as well as the loss of hunting privileges for a minimum of three years. The state game commission also plans to request restitution of up to $5,000 for this trophy-size bear.