Georgia Wildlife posted the above video, offering the official explanation of the genesis and “success” of a $2m anti-bear poaching law enforcement effort called “Something Bruin.” Get it? While the initiative seems on the up-and-up, that’s not exactly how a large number of North Carolinians see it – especially the ones who were on the sharp end of the investigation. That list includes one Linda Crisp, who wrote about the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission’s and United States Forest Service’s tactics for thetribunepapers.com. It’s an eye-opening exposé . . .
In 2009, Arnold (undercover alias “Chad Ryan”), and Davey Webb (alias Davey Williams), a wildlife agent from Georgia, visited a gun shop in Bryson City, N.C. According to the shop owner, they stated that they wanted to get involved in bear hunting and asked for recommendations of hunting guides in the area. However, according to subsequent reports, they were supposed to be infiltrating “known poaching circles”. The gun shop owner told them about some hunters he knew in Graham County, N.C. These agents hunted with men in Graham, Swain, Jackson, and Haywood from 2009-2012.
In late 2010 through 2011, under time constraints, and possibly due to not finding any illegal activity, Arnold and Webb resorted to various schemes to try to entice the hunters to break laws.
During one hunter’s trial in Haywood County, agents admitted to buying illegal bait for bears in Tennessee, and placing it in a hunter’s yard in Graham County. Hunters witnessed the officers killing at least four of the ten bears that were taken. These agents, against the advice of hunters, removed the bears’ gallbladders and called hunters from surrounding counties to try to get them to participate in the illegal selling of bear parts. The hunters refused to take part in this illegal activity. These are only two of the many tactics used in attempts to entrap hunters of Western North Carolina.
According to one attorney, Arnold admitted in court to violating 39 wildlife laws.
And then the SWAT team arrived . . .
Additionally, state and federal agents employed “Gestapo-like” techniques in search and seizure of so-called “evidence”, including improper service of search-warrants.
Men in bullet-proof vests, with M-16 rifles came into homes where women were alone.
In one house, more than 20 agents with guns drawn, terrorized screaming toddlers and left them unsupervised while the parents were roughed up, searched, handcuffed, and taken outside the home. To this day, these children display post-traumatic stress symptoms.
They left homes in disarray and removed items unrelated to bear hunting: a laptop computer, hunting picture of deceased family member, legally killed mounted deer and boar heads, duck and turkey calls belonging to a four-year-old boy, a boat and boat titles, a front-end loader, personal vehicles, and many other items, which have not been returned.
It must be noted that Ms. Crisp is referring here to her own experience. Grass Roots North Carolina’s Paul Valone helped organize a public forum for Crisp and other North Carolinians who feel wronged by the poaching pogrom [click here to watch]. Valone put out a press release condemning the state and federal “sting.”
Rather than pursuing legitimate poaching arrests, ‘Something Bruin’ reportedly exposed 81 hunters and their families to terrible abuses at the hands of the undercover agents and officers. Scores of arrests yielded very few convictions. State charges against most of the hunters have reportedly been dismissed, while only a few were later rearrested on federal charges. These are not the statistics you would expect to see from a legitimate undercover operation.
Valone, a professional airline pilot in his other life, is calling for an investigation. Once again, Big Government’s zeal to justify its existence has alienated the people paying its salary, citizens that it’s supposed to serve.