Bear poachers sentenced


By Don Mallicoat –

Ten defendants were sentenced on Monday, June 10, 2013, in U.S. District Court for illegal hunting activities involving black bears and other wildlife and related offenses, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The sentences are the result of “Operation Something Bruin,” a multi-agency initiative focused on the illegal poaching of bears and other wildlife in North Carolina and Georgia.

In February 2013, state and federal wildlife officials in North Carolina and Georgia announced the results of a four-year undercover investigation focused on illegal activities involving black bears and other wildlife in North Carolina and Georgia. The multi-agency initiative was the largest of its kind in recent years and resulted in more than 80 wildlife violators and over 980 violations. Primary violations documented by Operation Something Bruin stem from illegal bear hunting and poaching in North Carolina and Georgia, but include an array of state and federal wildlife and game law charges. The agencies involved in this investigation include state wildlife agencies, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.

When initially reported, I told you we would publish the names of those caught. From Robbinsville: Chad Burchfield, Patrick Burchfield, Jessie Jenkins, Kenneth Collins, Casey Collins, Michael Sellers, and Ricky Owens. Also sentenced were Robert Watson of Morganton, Terry Ratliff of Opelika, AL and Brian Quacca of Groesbeck, TX. Brent Fox of Morganton is awaiting sentencing.

Now the U.S. Court judge that sentenced them and Colonel Caveny of the WRC made a big deal of their sentencing sending a strong message to poachers. I spared you the individual sentencing details but in my mind the sentence did not fit the crime. After a multi-year/multiple agency operation the stiffest penalty I saw was a two year suspension of their hunting license. Some of them did not even have their license suspended. Yeah, they got thirty days in jail. But only two years on the license? In my mind their hunting privileges should have been permanently revoked. My money says they will be back at it in three years.

Let’s move on to a topic I thought did not need to be addressed again. Alas, I was wrong. And that is the reason we are suffering an ammunition shortage right now. There are two prevalent rumors going around so let me try to shed some light on the truth. First is the still persistent rumor that the reason we can’t get ammo is because the government is buying it all. So not true. Just as the shortage started at the beginning of the year there was a report that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had bought several billion rounds of ammunition. Not true.

What DHS did was submit a contract for a multi-year/ multi-agency purchase of a variety of calibers of ammunition. Yes, it was a very large contract, but it was simply a request for bid proposals. They did NOT purchase any more ammunition than they normally do during this period. Congress held hearings on the subject they were getting so much feedback from constituents. Even the NRA waded in and said there was no truth to the rumor. The ammo shortage is not due to the government buying it all to prevent us from getting it.

Next, and my personal favorite, is that President Obama’s buddy George Soros owns the Freedom Group which owns several firearms and ammo manufacturers. And he bought the Freedom Group and is closing all the ammo manufacturing plants which leads to the shortage. Again, not true and has been debunked on numerous occasions. George Soros does not now, or ever, owned the Freedom Group. He is not shutting down ammunition manufacturing.

There is an old saying, when you point your finger at someone three of your fingers are pointing back at you. When it comes to the ammo shortage, we have met the enemy and he is us. Profiteering and hoarding are the reasons we have an ammo shortage, plain and simple. The huge surge of buying at the beginning of the year put the manufacturers behind in meeting demand. Continued hoarding and profiteering have kept them behind. Industry reports indicate both Federal and Remington are putting in new machinery to manufacture more ammo. But as long as people buy it faster than it is produced, and hoard what they buy, the shortage will continue. Oh yeah, continuing to spread false rumors doesn’t help either.

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