An Orange hunter and his father are facing charges in the shooting
death of a bear in September in Royalston, including a charge of
illegally baiting the animal.
Charges were issued in
Winchendon District Court in Gardner yesterday against Mark Burdzy
Jr. of Orange and Mark Burdzy Sr. of Royalston after an extensive
investigation by state and federal environmental police officers
into the death of the bear. The investigation included the study of
the bear's DNA and a search of the homes of both men in January.
Mr. Burdzy Jr., 29, a correction officer, is charged with
illegally hunting a bear with a dog or by baiting, altering or
forging a license, violating fish and game laws by unlawfully
killing and possessing a bear, conspiring to provide false
information during an investigation and witness intimidation. Mr.
Burdzy Sr., 52, is facing the same charges except for altering or
forging a license.
In interviews in September and January
while the case was being investigated, Mr. Burdzy Jr. claimed he
shot the bear legally and demanded it be returned to him, contacting
media and state officials to get answers. At the time,
environmental police officers were prohibited from speaking about
the case, and a state spokeswoman would only say the killing of the
bear was under investigation.
In a report filed with court
documents, Environmental Police Sgt. Anthony Wolski said he began
investigating the case when a state police officer called him Sept.
5 and said he had heard shots fired in Royalston. On Sept. 13,
Mr. Wolski was notified a bear had been shot in Royalston and had
been brought to the state Division of Fisheries & Wildlife office in
West Boylston by Mr. Burdzy Jr. to be tagged.
wildlife officials' interest was that although Mr. Burdzy said the
bear had been killed that day, it was already so stiff the mouth
could not be opened to pull a tooth for study, as is normal
The bear was taken to Adams Farm slaughterhouse in
Athol, where it was inspected the following day by Sgt. Wolski.
He said he noticed the bear appeared to have been shot horizontally,
through one front shoulder to the other. On Sept. 15, he went to Mr.
Burdzy Jr.'s house and asked to see the kill site. Because the
hunter was busy, Mr. Burdzy Sr. agreed to take Sgt. Wolski to
the site, which he said was off Falls Road in Royalston.
Burdzy Sr. also told Sgt. Wolski the bear had been carried whole out
of the woods from where it was shot. He said the bear was taken to
his house, where the insides were removed before it was brought,
weighing 190 pounds, to West Boylston. His son confirmed the story.
Later that afternoon, Mr. Wolski was told by Environmental
Police Officer Mark Brighenti that he had been contacted by a woman
who found animal remains in another part of Royalston, off Warwick
Officer Brighenti told Sgt. Wolski the woman and
another woman were walking in the woods to check on the condition of
a tree they had planted a few years before when they found a large,
bloody pile of animal remains. While Sgt. Wolski went to the site
where the bear had allegedly been killed, Officer Brighenti went to
where the women found the animal remains. While Mr. Burdzy Sr. and
Sgt. Wolski were at the site off Falls Road, Officer Brighenti
called and said that at the Warwick Road site he found a gut pile
that appeared to be bear remains and a bucket filled with sunflower
seeds hanging from a tree.
Sgt. Wolski did not say anything
but continued investigating the Falls Road site. Mr. Burdzy showed
him a trail camera with a photograph of a live bear on it at the
site. He also showed the environmental police officer a tree stand
500 feet off Falls Road.
Sgt. Wolski said there was no
evidence of a bear being killed at that site. He also noted that
to get to and from the site would have been difficult for two men
carrying a bear that may have weighed 225 pounds whole. The shooting
site was up a steep hill through thick brush and downed trees. He
also noted the tree stand was 20 feet up a tree, which would have
made shooting the bear horizontally difficult.
why they did not remove the bear's stomach and intestines before
carrying it out, Sgt. Wolski said, Mr. Burdzy told him it was to
prevent other hunters from finding their hunting spots.
Wolski said he was told the gut pile had been taken from Mr. Burdzy
Sr.'s home to New Hampshire. He was later told by a lawyer they took
it to New Hampshire because an Asian man there was interested in it
for some reason.
At the Warwick Road bait site, samples of
the gut pile they found were taken. They left the bulk of the animal
remains and the bait bucket, hoping to catch someone hunting at the
site. They then seized the bear at Adams Farm and took samples of
it, sending the samples to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife office for DNA
When they returned to the bait site on Sept. 17,
the gut pile and bait bucket were gone. On December 14, Sgt. Wolski
was notified the bear DNA and the remains at the bait site matched.
On Jan. 13, authorities searched Mr. Burdzy Jr.'s home in
Orange and Mr. Burdzy Sr.'s home in Royalston, seeking evidence
connected with the bear shooting.
In both homes they
allegedly found unsecured guns. In Mr. Burdzy Jr.'s home, they said,
they found the gun that was used to shoot the bear, loaded with one
round in the chamber and one in the magazine. It was unsecured, as
were two pistols, another rifle and a shotgun.
also confiscated game cameras and camera memory cards, some of which
showed Mr. Burdzy Jr. filling plastic buckets with bird seed. A
6-year-old child lives in the Orange home, and because there was a
loaded weapon and several other unsecured weapons in the house, a
child endangerment complaint was made.
Mr. Bursdzy Jr. is
expected to face charges in Orange District Court of having
In the Royalston home, three unsecured
firearms were confiscated as evidence, as were a digital camera and
tree stands. Environmental police also found a photograph of Mr.
Burdzy Jr. with the bear he shot, in what appears to be the bait
location where the gut pile was found. Sgt. Wolski said in his
report the trees in the background matched with three in the
photographs taken at the bait site.
The two men are expected
to be arraigned Feb 27 in Winchendon District Court.
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