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.

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69 Responses to North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission and United States Forest Service SWAT Suspected Poachers

    • The applicable Ayn Rand quote:

      “Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

  1. In an ideal world they would be charged, tried, and convicted for terrorism and civil rights violations.

    In the real world they’ll all get promoted.

  2. “a boat and boat titles”

    They were illegally fishing for bears, er, I mean they were over the catch limit, uh…well it was a really nice boat, Your Honor.

    • Since the agents couldn’t come up with much poaching evidence they had to assume the boat was used to get rid of it. And the loader. The only alternative is that there were no poachers and that story doesn’t help anyone’s career. Except maybe in hindsight.

      • The boat was considered ill-gotten gain from the profit of the poaching operation and therefore subject to confiscation, like with drug operations. If they can’t take you down, at least they can take your money and put it in the public coffers.

        • The public coffers? Come on Pollyanna. Think the proceeds go in the general fund to reduce taxes and such? That’s so cute.

        • No it does not go into the general fund, but into special funds set up to provide “training” and equipment purchases for law enforcement officers. A certain percentage of the gains go back directly to the agency or department that confiscated “contraband” in the first place. In short, there is a direct incentive to seize anything and everything, an incentive aided and abetted by forfeiture laws which do not require the police to prove that the property is the result of ill-gotten gains, but instead puts the onus on the property owner to prove that it is NOT ill-gotten gains. They get away with this (to me unconstitutional) activity because it is a “civil” forfeiture, not a criminal proceeding. The government almost never loses because the civil forfeiture is not dependent upon a criminal conviction of the owner; even if the owner gets off, he still has t osue to get his property back, and he has the burden of proof.

    • Come on guys, let’s stick with the obvious. It’s called the “civil forfeiture” laws. Anything that is the product of a criminal enterprise is subject to seizure, and that includes anything bought with money (proceeds) from an illegal activity. Here, the alleged illegal activity was bear poaching–and any money earned from poaching may have gone into the purchase of the boat. Therefore it was subject to seizure. Now we get to the REALLY cool part–if you’re a cop. The forfeiture is processed through a civil forfeiture proceeding, not a criminal proceeding, and may proceed irrespective of the outcome of any criminal case. AND FURTHERMORE, even though the government is the plaintiff (and a plaintiff typically has the burden of proof), in a civil forfeiture action, the forfeited goods are PRESUMMED to be contraband, and the DEFENDANT has the burden of proving that they are not. After the government thus seizes your property, it sells it, and the proceeds are split between the various participating LEO agencies. The system is rigged–it provides an incentive to the LEO to seize anything and everything they can that might possibly have been bought with “illegal proceeds,” because the odds are that they will be allowed to keep it. This works out to millions of dollars a year. Ain’t the law wonderful?

      • I’ve seen some pretty egregious abuses of those seizure / asset forfeiture laws.

        Perhaps you could explain to me how these seizures run around the Takings Clause of 5th amendment. To my lay mind, they sure seem contrary to the spirit of that clause.

        • Ha! Look at you, expecting the government to abide by the constitution. Don’t worry, experience will soon disabuse you of that naive notion.

  3. I wonder if the people who conduct these “operations” ever even consider the possibility that they are making themselves easy targets of opportunity?

    Hubris, man.

    • When does this ever happen, though?

      Maybe if a few of them were involved in some unfortunate hunting accidents the others would rethink their line of work.

      • Could you imagine the media re-writing of what actually happened if something like this DID happen?

        He would not be recorded as a coward thug overstepping his power…he’d be labeled a hero of society ruthlessly murdered by “those” outlaws (insert name of group of the day to hate).

        Just think Christopher Dorner…not to defend anything he did – because I DON’T KNOW THE FACT. I only know what was reported and how it seemed to play out.

        He who controls the media, controls the narrative. And…those with both government and guns and about 50% (or so) on their side currently control the media.

        • The Revolution will not be televised, but you can bet your rear it will be blogged, tweeted and instagrammed.

      • “When does this ever happen, though?”

        It doesn’t… yet. But I’d be willing to bet there are people taking note of who the enemy is.

        • Maybe one day people will realize the twin crystal pillars of hubris and hypocrisy upon which this government sits. Maybe one day someone decides to pick up a hammer.

    • Indeed; if LEOs pick the wrong group of people in the Appalachians to pull this nonsense on and they get wind of what is going down, it wouldn’t be surprising to find yourself the victim of an unfortunate hunting accident and/or buried in a shallow grave somewhere in the back country/have an unfortunate house fire.

  4. “North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and United States Forest Service Entraps Law-Abiding Hunters In Order to SWAT Them”

    FIFY

    • And that’s not the only entrapment done by NC WRC.

      In my part of the state, instead of being out in the field trying to catch poachers (and such), they have consistently spent time and resources trying to entrap meat processors into violating the law…another of those ‘laws against paperwork.’

      That is, if a deer is killed, one has to have the license number affixed to the meat (or cooler, etc) when it is dropped at a processor. No number? The processor can get charged.

      So, what do these shining examples of “how to spend tax payer’s dollars’ spend their time doing? Dropping off coolers of meat with no numbers to see if the processor will (“illegally”) butcher the meat.

      There’s a LOT wrong with this. First of all, if the animal was killed legally, what difference does it make if the is PAPERWORK attached at the time of butchering? Second, if the animal was killed illegally, how does the butcher know that…could not the poacher have attached an arbitrary number?

      Etc. In other words…this stupid law does nothing to manage the wildlife or protect the state’s natural resources (which, I naively assume is that agency’s mandate).

      I know one meat processor who has had this entrapment scheme done on him numerous times spanning several years. He had not fallen for it, yet they KEEP TRYING.

      One of my (many) questions is: Why in the hell are they not out in the field managing wildlife rather than executing gestapo-like tactics trying to entrap a businessman trying to earn a living?

      Disgusting.

    • The FBI (and related spooks) have been doing ‘encourage and entrap’ operations as a matter of course for the last 4 decades. They find some group of (usually) kids who are talking about things they shouldn’t be talking about. They then “infiltrate” the group and learn that they’re silly youngsters who are a danger to no one. The fun starts when rather than abandon the op and chalk that up recon, they want to look like they actually did something. So the agent will say/do anything to incite the person/group into acting – up to and including providing live firearms, (dud) bomb making materials, money and training.

      This sort of went away after the 60s, but has made a spectacular return in the police-state of the last 15 years especially with all the money washing around.

      The disgusting, but utterly predictable part is that it’s worked down to Fish and Game departments.

      • I have suspicions that’s exactly what happened with the Tsarnaev brothers in Chicago and to their friend in Florida who the FBI killed in his own home during “questioning”.

        Such practices of entrapment are done by willingly and openly committing illegal acts. How is it that these agents/officers are not charged with the crimes they commit?

        • Yep. The Tsarnaevs were under the impression they were working for the CIA. And they were – as patsies!!

  5. When tyrannical government agencies operate above the law they become the law. When tyranny becomes law resistance becomes duty. No perceived infraction of the law justifies violating the Constitution of the United States. The ends justifies the means as a defense never should be allowed. These government agents committed civil rights violations and must be held accountable.

  6. I went to YouTube to add a comment on Georgia’s (something’s Bruin) page, it’s not accepting comments (any more)

  7. Looks like big gubmint is plenty worried. Some is also a show for the sheep. Trying to intimidate your boss only goes so far though, Randy

  8. Please pass this on to anyone who has been subject to this sort of abuse “under color of authority”:

    42 U.S. Code § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights
    “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.”

    You can sue these SOBs individually.

    From personal experience with the US Forest Service, you are dealing with people who say “that isn’t how we do things in MY Forest.” They do not believe that they are merely custodians of public lands – they own it, they rule it, and civilians are only there on the generous sufferance of the USFS. Same attitude may be found with the National Park Service, and with many fish cops. We are the serfs, they are the rulers, and the “public” land and resources thereon belong to the rulers.

    • Well, it does. It belongs to all of us collectively, but to none of us individually. If it’s water, the government owns it until it is used. If it is fish or wild life, the government owns it until it is taken with a permit. You individually cannot exert ownership or control over a community asset except by and in accordance with procedures established by the government.

      • You missed the point. The Fed employees think of the public lands as belonging to them personally, not to the public in general. They even resent the Congress passing laws that affect the public lands, thus ignoring the Property Clause of the Constitution. They enforce their own personal interpretation of the laws, not the actual laws. Very much like Obama and his “I have a pen and a telephone” comment, disregarding the Legislative Branch and the Constitution. The Executive Branch of the government is rapidly discarding our core principle of “rule by law”, and going with “rule by personal whim” – aka “dictatorship”.

  9. Stories like this one make me long for the good old days when cops who wanted to make a bust would simply plant a few bags of H on a guy during a routine stop. Simple, effective and less violent than today’s SWAT raids. But hard entries are fun for the boys with the badges, who just love shooting people and animals, scaring children, stealing stuff and breaking furniture.

    I’m beginning to suspect that cops wear uniforms so we can tell them apart from the good guys.

  10. And In Kalifornia – the good guys finally win eventually (maybe).

    Cal Fire to Pay $30M for ‘Egregious and Reprehensible Conduct’
    The agency’s response to the 2007 Moonlight fire has been at issue and criticized for years.

    Feb. 06–In a blistering ruling against Cal Fire, a judge in Plumas County has found the agency guilty of “egregious and reprehensible conduct” in its response to the 2007 Moonlight fire and ordered it to pay more than $30 million in penalties, legal fees and costs to Sierra Pacific Industries and others accused in a Cal Fire lawsuit of causing the fire.

    Full piece at
    http://www.firehouse.com/news/11306300/cal-fire-fined-30m-for-egregious-and-reprehensible-actions-at-2007-moonlight-fire?utm_source=FH+Newsday&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS140131002

  11. It seems pretty obvious to me that once the investigation had run out of steam and money there had to be some busts or some LEO’s were going to be looking for new jobs. The whole thing sucks but the hunters have Paul Valone on their side and that’s a very good thing. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe these “hunters” couldn’t smell bacon if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s just me but even from way back in high school I had a 6th sense about under cover cops.

  12. Growing up in a very poor rural county, I’ve known more
    than a few poachers. I’m curious as to how many of the
    poachers were simply out to blast critters vs how many
    actually needed the meat.

  13. Unfortunately, this is an old, old story. They can’t/won’t nail any real lawbreakers, so they try and shoehorn decent, law-abiding folks into the role.

    It’s absolutely criminal, and they deserve to cool their heels in prison for it.

  14. Doing some detailed homework 3-4 years ago on pig-hunting in CA,
    including talking to many senior people in the know, reading hunting forums, talking with long-time respected hunters and wildlife pro’s,
    and from a couple of years working with people in the conservation/environmental side of things, I have to say,

    I have a sense that theres a sea-change. The old guys who were hunters, while also serving in USFS, Parks, BLM, and game wardens and land managers, were experienced and wise, and understood the honorable and ethical core of most hunters, and what most sportsmen are like, think Ducks Unlmited, for example. It wasnt an us-vs-them feeling.

    But I dont get that from he newest generation of people entering the wildlife and land management business, especially at the government agencies-

    Excuse me for being politcally incorrect, but after years of diversity hiring, and the kinds of state politics you can imagine in CA, combined with the changing demographic of college kids seeking jobs outdoors- theres a much higher percentage, I would guess- in the metro areas for sure, where the Enviro Majors from UC Bezerkley, are indoctrinated, and other kids raised on Earth Day, and Gaia, and picking up litter on the beach after surfing, rather than growing up hunting. As a result, the narrative seems to be along the lines of ‘developers and gun owners are evilllll people’ as a form of religious belief, and you kind of get a sense of it watching something like Wild Justice, the NatGeo reality TV show about game wardens: All the hunters are trailer trash poaching scumbags and the heavliy armed military garbed eco-boys are saving the planet from climate warming.

    Well, thats probably not fair, but you get my drift.

    • I will endorse that 100% – the newer people coming in to the Fed land managing agencies (USFS, BLM, NPS) are mostly indoctrinated with greenie-wacko beliefs. They think of the public lands as “their” lands.

  15. What I want to know is who supervised Chad Arnold and the fed guys also. They are all going to get their butts sued off!

    • CANNED QUESTIONS! Gotta love ’em.

      And “bare violations”? What, skinny dipping? Streaking? Both are Georgia traditions. 😀

  16. And you,William Burke, are an uneducated idiot incapable of a decent response to the good people of Rabun County Georgia and North Carolina. Have you ever been there and gotten to know truly good people? They will survive after you are long gone.

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