Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Game Warden Files--Another Tangled Web

A couple weeks into the early bear season, State Trooper Pat Darling and I were getting the same complaint from two different sources.  It seems that a guy had baited a bear into his back yard and killed it.  Then, since he had no license of his own, used his brother's tag on it and the bear was now at a local taxidermist. We had the story, we had the bear hide. The problem was that we had no evidence and our informants were not going to reveal themselves and give statements.

The Trooper and I decided to start by calling in the brother who had furnished the tag.  We called him on the phone, told him that he had some explaining to do and he'd better get to the Troopers' Barracks ASAP.  It took him about a half hour to get there and by the time he came in he was stressed out so badly that he was ready to confess.  He'd even called his brother on the phone and told him what was going on.  We took a statement from him, issued a ticket and sent him on his way; then we called his brother.

The brother worked for a state agency that would frown on his getting charged with any kind of crime, so we had a pretty big hammer to hold over his head on this.  He tried a lot of different stories; but was unable to find one that would get by the statement from his brother and bear carcass at the taxidermist's shop.  One of the lines he tried to pull was that he was sick in bed on the day the bear had been taken.  On a hunch we called his work location and found that he had been out on workmen's compensation leave when the deed had been done.  We started pouring more pressure on him and somewhere in there he got the impression that we might arrest his wife also.  That's when he started to crumble.  He said that as long as we'd leave his wife out of it, he'd tell us everything and began to let it out.

He'd been feeding the bear for a few weeks before the season, and for some reason, finally decided it would make a nice rug.  So, one night, as his wife held the flashlight, he shot it, called his brother for the tag and took it off to have a rug made.

To save his job, I offered a civil compromise, which kept the issue from entering the justice system, though it still cost him a bundle.  True to our word, we did not charge his wife, even though she'd been part of the illegal taking.  Part of the settlement was that he had to pay the taxidermist the remainder of the bill on the bear hide and forfeit the rug.  One more trophy for the department.

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