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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2004

HUNTER MADE ILLEGAL BEAR KILL

Allentown Morning Call, PA

From The Morning Call -- January 7, 2004

Hunter made illegal bear kill

Jason Taddeo shot the 808-pound bruin and then bought a license.

A Bethlehem hunter who shot an 808-pound black bear last month in Monroe County is accused of killing the animal without a license.

Jason Taddeo, 29, is charged with the unlawful killing of a black bear. The Pennsylvania Game Commission filed the case Tuesday at District Justice Charles Eyer's office in Marshalls Creek.

If found guilty, Taddeo must pay an $800 fine plus restitution, which can range anywhere from $100 to $5,000, according to the Game Commission. Taddeo is also likely to lose his hunting and trapping privileges for two to three years.

Taddeo's bear was the third-heaviest taken in Pennsylvania this year, and his story was featured in a Dec. 14 Morning Call article about bear season.

Taddeo shot the massive bruin Dec. 1 while hunting in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Middle Smithfield Township.

Taddeo initially claimed he purchased a bear license just hours before shooting the bear that morning. But a subsequent Game Commission investigation revealed evidence that Taddeo shot the bear first and then purchased the required license.

Monroe County Wildlife Conservation Officer Victor Rosa said he began looking into the matter as the result of information he received shortly after The Morning Call article appeared.

''It lead me to ask some more questions, and the more I looked into it, the more the timeline started to dissolve,'' Rosa said. ''After I talked to Jason, we got down to the truth.''

Rosa said Taddeo confessed the violation, but Taddeo still must plead guilty after receiving his citation in the mail. Taddeo could also plead not guilty and have a trial before the district justice, Rosa said.

''Jason Taddeo is a hunter who happened to have an opportunity, who took that opportunity and wasn't properly licensed at the time,'' Rosa said.

''He's not a bad person. He's just someone who.made a mistake.''

Taddeo's bear will almost certainly make the Pennsylvania record books. A preliminary measurement of the skull tied as the 59th largest bear ever taken in the state.

Taddeo had planned to have the animal mounted, but the skull and hide have been confiscated as evidence, said Tim Conway, the Game Commission's Northeast Region information and education supervisor.

If Taddeo is found guilty, the amount of restitution he must pay will be determined by the district justice. Conway said the amount is based on the estimated cost of replacing the animal involved. Conway said fewer than one percent of all Pennsylvania bears grow as large as Taddeo's.

''You're talking about an animal that is a trophy,'' Conway said. ''We try to put a price tag on the worth of the animal or replacing an animal of that caliber.''

Taddeo was accompanied on the hunt by his uncle, Tim Barlok, also of Bethlehem. However, Rosa said there are no plans at this time to charge Barlok with any wrongdoing.

Game code violations are summary offenses and not classified as criminal acts, Game Commission spokesman Jerry Feaser said.

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