This week, working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, we arrested nine individuals on numerous felony and misdemeanor charges associated with the illegal baiting, taking and molestation of black bears by use of dogs for commercial and recreational purposes.
According to the year-long investigation, the defendants lured black bears by placing drums of dog food, doughnuts, pastries and peanut butter in various areas throughout Baker, Flagler, Marion and Union counties. The defendants used large packs of dogs to chase bears up trees. They would then beat the trees, some higher than 50 feet, causing bears to fall to the ground, where they would force dogs to maul the bears.
Following some of the attacks, the defendants posted numerous videos of the acts on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In some of the videos, defendants can be seen forcing the bears to a waiting pack of approximately a dozen dogs that then repeatedly bit the bears. None of the individuals involved tried to call off the dogs or stop the attacks. My Office of Statewide Prosecution obtained warrants for social media accounts where the defendants posted these disgusting videos.
Not only were their actions gruesome and repulsive, they were recorded and posted to social media for their amusement. I doubt they are laughing any longer now that they have been arrested for serious crimes.
I want to thank FWC and my Assistant Statewide Prosecutors Kelly McKnight and Diane Croff for their great work on this case.