*Department of Justice Press Release April 11, 2013*
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell sentenced a Robbinsville, N.C. man to five months in prison on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 for killing an American Black Bear cub in Nantahala National Forest in October 2011, announced today Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Kristin Bail, Forest Supervisor for the National Forests of North Carolina joins U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today's announcement.
According to filed court documents and yesterday's sentencing hearing, in October 2011 Tyler Micaiah Colvin, 20, of Robbinsville used a .50 caliber muzzleloader to kill a Black Bear cub in the Wayah Bear Sanctuary in the Nantahala National Forest, in Macon County. Court records indicate that Colvin had fired three shots, one of which fatally wounded the bear cub. Bear season was not open at the time Colvin killed the cub, it is illegal to kill a bear weighing less than 50 pounds at any time and killing bears within a bear sanctuary is prohibited even during bear hunting season. Court documents and court proceedings indicate that Colvin shot the bear cub, skinned it and removed the paws and some meat. Colvin left the remainder of the carcass and the entrails in the forest. Forest agents apprehended Colvin and retrieved the bear parts from his vehicle, all according to court records. Colvin pleaded guilty in December 2012 to one count of transporting wildlife that had been taken in violation of federal laws and regulations, which is a violation of the Lacey Act.
“The Lacey Act is an important arsenal in our fight against those who illegally kill endangered and threatened species,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins. “It is important for all of us to follow the law when hunting protected species. Colvin's conduct was outrageous, inhumane and illegal and anyone involved in the illegal killing of Black Bears will be vigorously prosecuted by this office.”
“This case is a positive example of how important partnerships between Forest Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission can produce maximum results in the protection of our resources. Officers are faced with bad odds when dealing with poaching in such vast areas, so we urge the public to report all big game violations. These types of results definitely send a message to those who steal from the public,” said Steve Ruppert, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region.
“I commend the U.S. Forest Service agents and officers of their work on this case, and I believe the sentence sends a message that illegal hunting will not be tolerated in the national forests,” said Kristin Bail, forest supervisor of the U.S. Forest Service's National Forests in North Carolina. “Working with a wide variety of local, state and federal partners, the Forest Service is committed to protecting wildlife to ensure these and other natural resources are available for the next generation of forest visitors.”
“The thin Green Line formed by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is all that stands between our state's precious wildlife resources and those who take game illegally in our state. If it were not for the support of our Judges, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the public for whom we serve, all efforts would be lost. This is a fine example of how things should work, from the execution and case development of the officers in the field to the handling of the case when it gets to court,” said Captain Greg Daniels, of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's 9th District.
In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Howell ordered Colvin to one year of supervised release and to surrender his hunting license while he is under court supervision. Colvin is also prohibited from engaging in any hunting activities during that year. Colvin was also ordered to pay $2,232 as restitution to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for the killing of the Black Bear cub and was ordered to forfeit the muzzleloader rifle, a powder horn, and a deer call device.
The U.S. Attorney's Office reminds the public that American Black Bears are a species of special concern warranting federal and state protection on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hunting is illegal at any time within the National Parks. Hunting on Forest Service land is only permitted during open season and in compliance with federal and state law.
To report Lacey Act violations, including the illegal hunting of American Black Bears, within National Parks and National Forests, please call the Law Enforcement Desk of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 1-865-436-1230, The North Carolina State Wildlife Hotline at 1-800-662-7137, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1-828-258-2084 or the National Forests at 1-828-231-0288.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Forest Service. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Edwards of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Asheville.