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Man who killed first bear in Nevada hunt charged with illegal baiting

December 14, 2011

By Jeff DeLong, RGI.com

The Reno man who killed the first bear in Nevada’s highly controversial black bear hunt faces charges he illegally baited the animals.

Timothy Kawelmacher, 55, is scheduled to appear in Reno Justice Court on Monday. He is charged with two misdemeanor counts of baiting big-game mammals for the purpose of hunting, said Chris Hicks, Washoe County deputy district attorney.

“It is very discouraging that the very first bear killed in this controversial hunt is now the subject of prosecution,” Hicks said.

Kawelmacher is charged with using apples and bacon grease to bait for bears on Aug. 11 and anise oil for the same purpose between Aug. 5 and Aug. 20, when the season opened, Hicks said.

Kawelmacher killed the season’s first bear — a 9-year-old, 180-pound female — with a rifle near Garson Road west of Reno on Aug. 20, according to officials with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. He was later cited by game wardens, and the bear’s head and hide were seized as evidence.

Kawelmacher, who Hicks said has cooperated with authorities, could not be reached for comment. It appears he will be acting as his own attorney Monday, Hicks said.

The hunter faces fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 6 months for each count, Hicks said. Additional civil penalties of up to $2,000 for each count are also possible.
“What is most significant about this case is that it was the very first year of the bear hunt, and there was a very heated debate about whether there should even be a bear hunt,” Hicks said.

Since the season opened Aug. 20, 13 bears — eight males and five females — have been killed. The season ends Dec. 31 or once 20 bears total or six females are killed.
At least 33 states have a black bear hunting season in place. While some do allow baiting, Nevada wildlife officials outlawed the activity when adopting hunting regulations.

Forty-one hunters who successfully drew tags for the hunt attended an Aug. 6 orientation hosted by the Department of Wildlife to make clear specifics of hunting regulations, among other things. Kawelmacher was present, officials said.

Considering the controversy of the hunt, which was widely attacked by critics, wildlife officials stressed the importance of obeying the rules.

“You guys are under the microscope,” Department of Wildlife biologist and bear expert Carl Lackey said at the time. “Please do everything right.”

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