State and federal wildlife officials in North Carolina and Georgia announced an undercover operation Wednesday that involved about 80 wildlife violators and some 980 violations.
Primary violations documented by Operation Something Bruin stem from illegal bear hunting but include an array of state wildlife and game law charges. Some suspects could also face federal charges.
The four-year investigation, the largest of its kind in recent years, targeted poachers in North Carolina and Georgia, with work in some adjacent states. Included in Georgia are eight defendants facing a total of 136 state charges.
Dan Forster, director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, said Operation Something Bruin is a great example of a multi-agency effort with a unified goal: protecting a public trust resource that provides “tremendous natural, social and economic benefits to citizens.”
“It is incumbent upon us to ensure that we have sustainable natural resources for the public to enjoy for generations,” Mr. Forster said. “And particularly in these economic times, it’s critical for us to work across geopolitical boundaries with other agencies to provide the best possible protection for the resource.”
Officers with Georgia DNR and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission infiltrated poaching circles to document violations including bear baiting; illegal take of bears, deer and other wildlife; illegal use of dogs; illegal operation of bear pens in North Carolina; and, guiding hunts on national forest lands without the required permits.
Operation Something Bruin partners also included the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
Officers began making arrests on Tuesday. Totals given for violators and violations are approximate.
This investigation will help safeguard wildlife by making poachers pay now, and making would-be violators think twice before breaking laws that conserve natural resources.
For those who persist in wildlife theft, Something Bruin will help agencies better train officers to catch them - an effort strongly supported by hunters and anglers, our nation’s first conservationists.
Col. Eddie Henderson, chief of the Wildlife Resources Division’s Law Enforcement Section, emphasized that the effort also reinforces the public’s role in helping combat poaching and conserve wildlife.
“Conservation officers cannot be everywhere,” Mr. Henderson said. “The public can be a great asset by reporting poaching and suspicious activity through their state’s toll-free report-a-violation line. Wildlife belongs to everyone. Reporting poaching helps us protect something the public owns.”
Learn more at www.operationsomethingbruin.org or www.georgiawildlife.com/operationsomethingbruin.