At least 8 people are in jail for numerous crimes after state officials learned they were baiting bears and allowing hunting dogs to maul them.
The Florida Attorney General called it one of the most horrific wildlife abuse cases she has ever seen.
The investigation began in January 2018 after Florida Wildlife Commission officers got word of social media videos showing the incidents.
From there, an 11-month inquiry led to the arrest of eight people in Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
There’s a warrant out for the arrest of another person.
“This is not hunting. This is not a sport. This is the worst of the worst,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said.
Group members lured the bears into trees. They’d either fall to the ground or in some cases, the group members caused them to come down.
“The defendants themselves would come beat the trees, the bears would fall down, so the attack could happen. Or one of these idiot defendants climbed the tree, so the bear would fall off,” Bondi said at a Wednesday press conference from Zoo Tampa.
Once on the ground, packs of aggressive dogs mauled the bears.
Video showing the incidents is graphic.
Two bears died and 53 dogs have been seized by the state, Bondi said.
She explained how the group members went to great lengths to bait the bears, even staking out Krispy Kreme donut shops after they closed.
“They would get in the dumpster and take out hundreds, garbage bags full of donuts and put them around trees,” Bondi said.
They baited bears in Baker, Flagler, Union and Marion counties.
The suspects are as follows:
- William Tyler Wood of Lake Butler
- Dustin Reddish of Lake Butler
- Haley Reddish of Lake Butler
- Mark Lindsey of Moultrie, Georgia
- Charles Luther Scarbrough II of Callahan
- Hannah Weiner Scarbrough of Callahan
- Christopher Elliot Haun of Ormond Beach
- William Edward Landrum of Millboro, Virginia
- Troy Travis Starling of Lake Butler
Charges include racketeering, animal cruelty, unlawfully taking a black bear and littering.