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Why West Michigan hunter is facing jail time 11 years after polar bear hunt

August 24, 2011

By John Agar, The Grand Rapids Press

As a big-game hunter who has traveled North America, Rodger DeVries of Georgetown Township bagged a polar bear a decade ago in Canada’s Nunavut Territory.

The trouble came later, once the bear took its place in his trophy room.

While Canada allows polar bear hunting, U.S. allows importation of polar bear parts only if the U.S. Secretary of the Interior determines that Canada’s hunting program is “based on scientifically sound quotas ensuring the maintenance of the affected population stock at a sustainable level.”

DeVries killed his bear in the Foxe Basin, north of Hudson Bay. The U.S. has not determined the area’s hunting program ensures survival of the species at sustainable levels.

Now, DeVries awaits sentencing on a federal misdemeanor charge after he pleaded guilty this week to knowingly and unlawfully using a U.S. port or harbor to import polar bear parts without obtaining an import permit.

DeVries' attorney) hoped his client would not be incarcerated. The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and $100,000 in fines.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 8.

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