An undercover wildlife operation has identified more than 80 poachers in North Carolina and Georgia. The four-year investigation uncovered as many as 900 wildlife violations in the two states.
It was a tip on illegal black bear hunting in the Appalachian Mountains that prompted the multi-agency undercover probe. Investigators found guides providing tours through national forest lands – for a fee – and without permits. They also found illegal bear baiting and hunting in closed wildlife management areas.
Major Stephen Adams of Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources says some of the violations were direct threats to public safety.
“Our undercover officers observed the poachers engaging in acts such as hunting from a motor vehicle, shooting from a public road. These actions endanger the public, property, livestock, and are just unsafe practices in general. When these violators were observed committing these crimes, they had no idea what was past the target that they were shooting at.”
Alongside DNR officers in Georgia, authorities with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources also found illegal bear enclosures, unauthorized take of bears, deer and other wildlife, and illegal use of dogs. Officials began making arrests two days ago, but the investigation continues and more charges are possible.