Two Men Sentenced in Bear Poaching Case

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Two Michigan men were sentenced this week in connection with the illegal harvest of what is suspected to be the second-largest black bear ever taken in Michigan.

The 662 lb. bear made headlines last September when it was taken in Alcona County during the opening day of the 2002 hunting season. Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement officers later discovered through an anonymous tip that the individual credited as the successful hunter was not present during the hunt.

Michigan bear hunters are issued permits on a lottery basis. Many hunters wait years to be drawn for a permit. In this case, the shooter was unlicensed and eventually tagged the bear with a permit belonging to a friend, who was downstate during the hunt. Michigan law requires that only the holder of a valid bear permit may hunt and kill a black bear. Loaning of the license to another hunter is prohibited.

Following an overt DNR investigation, the Alcona County Prosecutor's Office issued criminal charges against both men. The 81st District Court in Alcona County this week convicted and sentenced both men.

Daniel Joseph Ryan, 23, of Mt. Pleasant, pleaded guilty to illegally killing the bear. He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service, revocation of hunting privileges for three years, one year probation, and more than $5,000 in fines.

Scott Robert Murray, 40, of St. Clair Shores, pleaded guilty to loaning his tag to an unlicensed hunter. He lost his hunting privileges for one year and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, one year probation, and $960 in fines and court costs.

The hunting group announced to several publications that they intended to enter the bear in the Michigan record books, and expected it to be among the three largest bears ever killed in Michigan. The initial score of the bear’s skull reportedly was 22 8/16-inches. A 60-day drying period is required before a skull can be officially measured for the record book.

Instead, the bear will be mounted – costs paid by the poachers – and will be exhibited as part of the DNR Wall of Shame project.

“There are so many honest sportsmen and women who would have loved the opportunity to draw a permit to fairly pursue a black bear of this caliber,” said Detective Sgt. Wade Hamilton, supervisor of the Special Investigative Unit. “It’s a shame that this magnificent animal was taken illegally, and I’m proud of our officers for their fine detective work on this case.”

Those who hear about or witnesses wildlife crimes are urged to contact the DNR Report All Poaching Hotline at 1(800)292-7800.