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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2006

WERE THE “WATER WORKS” DEER BETRAYED?

Country star charged with killing tame bear in pen.

The incident in Sandstone, Min., was videotaped and edited to make it appear that the bear had been shot in a "fair chase," charges say.

The singing duo Montgomery Gentry made its name in country music with such hits as "Good Clean Fun."

But according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday, there was nothing good or clean about the death of a tame bear named Cubby at the hands of Troy Lee Gentry.

Gentry, half of the singing pair, bought the "trophy-caliber" bear for $4,650 from Lee Marvin Greenly, owner of the Minnesota Wildlife Connection in Sandstone, according to the charges filed in federal court in Duluth.

Gentry, 39, and Greenly, 46, made their first court appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Raymond Erickson in Duluth on Tuesday and were released on bond.

The charges said Gentry killed the bear with a bow and arrow in October 2004 while it was enclosed in a pen on Greenly's property.

Greenly refused to comment on the incident Tuesday, and a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office said she didn't know how large the pen was.

An adult black bear normally weighs 250 to 350 pounds. Cubby had been raised in captivity and was housed at the Wildlife Connection, a private preserve that bills itself as a place where animal lovers can photograph creatures in the wild.

After the kill, Gentry and Greenly allegedly tagged the bear with a Minnesota hunting license and registered it with the state Department of Natural Resources as if it had been killed in the wild.

The kill was videotaped and later edited to make it appear that Gentry had killed the bear in a "fair chase" hunting situation, the indictment said. The hide was sent to a taxidermist in Kentucky.

"I don't know all the details on what has been said," Greenly said Tuesday. "You're the first person who has really said anything about it to me."

A spokesman for Gentry, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., said he couldn't comment.

Montgomery Gentry has been a top country act since the late '90s, with two No. 1 singles and a string of gold albums.

Gentry was charged with conspiracy to falsely label the animal. Greenly also was charged with two unrelated crimes for allegedly setting up bear-baiting stations and hunting stands in the Sandstone National Wildlife Refuge, then guiding a client there to kill two black bears in 2005.

Fine or prison possible

The charges against the men carry a maximum fine of $20,000 and as long as five years in prison.

The black bear population in Minnesota is healthy, and the state encourages hunting as a way to control it, said DNR spokesman Mark LaBarbara. The department issued 13,670 bear licenses in 2004 and hunters killed 3,391 bears.

"But there's no question that the state does not condone shooting a pen-raised bear," LaBarbara said.

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