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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2008

VT: Two Mass. men face charges in illegal bear hunt

Two Mass. men face charges in illegal bear hunt
By PATRICK McARDLE Herald Staff
December 18, 2008

BENNINGTON Two Massachusetts residents, a man and a teenager, were faced with charges on Tuesday after Bennington County Game Warden Travis Buttle said they used a baited trap to illegally hunt bear.

Alan D. Hall, of Williamstown, Mass., was charged with misdemeanor counts of taking a big game animal by illegal means, taking bear from a bear-baited area and failure to tag big game. Hall pleaded not guilty to the charges in Bennington District Court on Tuesday.

Thomas E. Rand Jr., 16, of Williamstown, Mass., was charged with misdemeanor counts of taking a big game animal by illegal means and hunting bear without the proper license. Rand pleaded guilty by waiver and received fines of $600 and surcharges of $162.

In an affidavit, Buttle said he had received two anonymous tips in August about an area in Stamford that was baited for bear.

Buttle said he found a blue tote container filled with chicken parts, bagels, muffins, cooking oil and mild products with a large, wooden tree stand about 30 yards away facing the tote. A camera was facing the tote as well.

On Aug. 31, the camera was gone and the bait appeared to have been eaten. There were signs of bear activity, including bear scat, nearby, according to Buttle.

In the affidavit, Buttle said around 6 a.m. Sept. 1, he was in the area and heard a shot near the baited area. Buttle said when he reached the area he found Rand and another teenager. Rand had a loaded rifle, Buttle said.

Buttle said he spoke to another man, William T. Andrews, also of Massachusetts, and Hall at the scene.

According to the affidavit, Hall had harvested a black bear that was not tagged.

Buttle said when he told Hall it was illegal to hunt bear over bait, Hall told him he shot the bear on the trail on its way to the bait.

Hall told Buttle he knew that Rand didn't have a hunting license, according to the affidavit.

A small LED flashlight was also found in the area pointed toward the bait.

"Based on my training and experience, the presence of an illuminated target area allows a person to acquire his target faster and easier when using a telescope-sighted firearm. This would be especially true when the target is black in color," Buttle wrote.

Buttle said both Hall and Rand had rifles with telescopic sights.

According to the affidavit, Hall said the black bear he shot was the first he had ever harvested.

Buttle said in the affidavit that Hall had used illegal means by using a light to illuminate a baited area to which bears had been attracted by food.

On Wednesday, Buttle said charges against Andrews were pending.

Hall was released without bail on Tuesday. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 30 unless he has hired an attorney before that time.

If convicted of the charges against him, Hall could be sentenced to up to 180 days in prison, fined as much as $1,500, or both.

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