By: Joanne M. Haas/WDNR Bureau of Law Enforcement
PARK FALLS, Wis. -- The illegal harvest of a 506-pound black bear in Price County is a reminder to all hunters to know your target before you shoot, and your legal shooting hours so an unintended tragedy does not occur.
Conservation Warden Joe Paul, who serves on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Park Falls warden team, handled the case of the 24-year-old Wisconsin resident who shot the bear on Sept. 10, 2018 in the northern Wisconsin county.
"The bear was shot about 35 minutes after the close of shooting hours," Paul said. "Yes, there are fines and penalties that accompany this. But, there is an extremely important safety component that is the foundation of this law, not to mention fair chase. A 500-pound bear is a trophy by anyone's standard. It's unfortunate that the opportunity to harvest this bear legally was taken away from other hunters.
"Those who choose to shoot after hours may not be able to clearly identify their target or what lies beyond, which is one of the four rules of firearm safety," Paul said.
Because it was dark by the time the hunter shot and the blood trail was near nonexistent, Paul got help from a local hound hunter handling a dog on a leash to help find the dead bear.
"We wanted to make sure the animal would not go to waste," Paul said.
The case is pending in the Price County judicial system. Once the case is completed, the bear will be mounted and used at a local youth camp dedicated to nature programs, and the meat will be donated to families in need in the Ogema and Phillips communities.