Bear Baiting Leads to Charges
Posted on Dec 30, 2008 - 9:30 AM
Bear baiting leads to charges
KEITH WHITCOMB JR., Staff Writer
Posted: 12/20/2008 03:05:39 AM EST
Saturday, December 20
STAMFORD — Two men from Massachusetts are facing charges for using illegal means to hunt bear, according to Bennington region Game Warden Travis Buttle.
Alan D. Hall, 48, of Willamstown, Mass., was charged with misdemeanor counts of taking bear from a bear-baited area, failure to tag big game, and taking a big game animal by illegal means. Hall pleaded not guilty in Bennington County District Court on Tuesday.
Thomas E. Rand Jr., 16, also of Williamstown, pleaded guilty by waiver to misdemeanor counts of taking a big game animal by illegal means and hunting bear without a license. Rand received fines of $600 and surcharges of $162.
Buttle said an anonymous tip was received from the Operation Game Thief hotline prior to the opening day of Vermont's 2008 bear season, which began Sept. 1, in regard to a baited area off the Risky Ranch Road in Stamford.
He said the presence of the baited area was confirmed on Aug. 29, when he discovered doughnuts, muffins, bagels, honey, oil and chicken near a tree stand. Buttle said contact was made Sept. 1 with five individuals in the area. Buttle said Hall had taken a bear while sitting in the tree stand near the baited area, and said Rand was hunting with Hall and had attempted to take the same bear.
Buttle said Rand did not have a Vermont hunting license at the time.
William T. Andrews, 40, of North Adams, Mass., was also discovered in the tree stand with a firearm while Hall and Rand were hunting, said Buttle. He said Hall, Rand, and Andrews had gotten into the tree stand at 10 p.m. the night of Aug. 31 and stayed until 2 a.m. the morning of Sept. 1.
Buttle said they were in the tree stand again from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. the morning of Sept. 1.
The warden said they had attached a battery-powered light to a tree so it would shine on the bait pile, and added that all three had been involved in placing food there for several months prior to the violation.
He said the bear died on the bait pile and the defendants claimed to have shot the bear while it was headed to it. Buttle said motion-activated game cameras had been set up, apparently by the men, around the pile, and authorities are now in possession of over 200 photographs showing bear activity around the baited pile.
Buttle said the illegal baiting of bear has become a problem in Vermont and other parts of the nation in recent years, and the current case highlights the effectiveness of Operation Game Thief.
Contact Keith Whitcomb at firstname.lastname@example.org.