Two men were arrested in Northern California on suspicion of illegally luring a black bear with bait, killing it and then trying to butcher and partially dispose of the carcass in a shallow grave.
Jason Scott Wilkison, 43, of Grass Valley, and Christopher Art Nunley, 54, of North San Juan, were arrested following a five-month investigation that involved using DNA testing to piece together and build the bear-poaching case, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported.
“This bear had been killed during April of 2013, well after the bear season,” said Mark Michilizzi, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife warden. “There are indications that they originally tried to butcher the bear and skin it and then tried to get rid of it.”
The Nevada County district attorney’s office this week charged the men with unlawful possession and killing of a bear, as well as possible felony charges involving illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The investigation was launched after officials received complaints that Wilkison and Nunley had lured the bear to one of their homes with bait before shooting and killing it near Grizzly Flat in Nevada County, southwest of Lake Tahoe.
“These were not hunters with a hunting license and bear tags. They just thought they could kill a bear, and it made some people that knew about it mad,” lead investigator Jerry Karnow told the Daily Tribune.
Investigators served six search warrants and performed DNA testing to confirm that it was a female black bear. They found bear remains at Nunley’s home and in a shallow grave near Wilkison’s residence.
“We were not able to recover paws, the head or the whole hide,” Karnow told the newspaper. “It is unique how all these body parts and the DNA puts it all together as one animal.”