Asheville, NC -- A judge sentenced a Robbinsville man to five months in prison for violating federal wildlife laws by killing a black bear cub.
Tyler Micaiah Colvin, 20, shot and skinned the cub in the Wayah Bear Sanctuary in the Nantahala National Forest in October 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
"Colvin's conduct was outrageous, inhumane and illegal, and anyone involved in the illegal killing of black bears will be vigorously prosecuted by this office," Anne Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, said in a statement Thursday.
Colvin pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Asheville in December to one count of transporting wildlife that had been taken in violation of the Lacey Act, which Tompkins called "an important arsenal in our fight against those who illegally kill endangered and threatened species."
According to court records, Colvin used a .50-caliber muzzleloader to kill the cub. Bear season was not open at the time, and it's illegal to kill a bear weighing less than 50 pounds at any time. In addition, killing bears in a bear sanctuary is prohibited evening during hunting season.
After shooting the bear, Colvin skinned it and removed the paws and some meat, leaving the remainder of the carcass in the forest in Macon County. U.S. Forest Service agents apprehended him and found the bear parts in his vehicle, court documents state.
Apprehending those who illegally kill bears is a difficult task, said Steve Ruppert, special agent in charge with the Forest Service.
"Officers are faced with bad odds when dealing with poaching in such vast areas, so we urge the public to report all big game violations," he said. "These types of results definitely sent a message to those who steal from the public."
Jail time for bear poaching is uncommon, said Capt. Greg Daniels with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
"In particular with wildlife crimes, it's usually a license suspension and a replacement cost for the wildlife that was taken," Daniels said.
In addition to the prison term, Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell this week also ordered Colvin to serve one year of supervised release and surrender his hunting license while he is under court supervision.
He also was ordered to pay $2,232 in restitution to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and forfeit his rifle, a powder horn and a deer call device.
Kristin Bail, supervisor of the national forests in North Carolina, said she hopes Colvin's prosecution sends a message that illegal hunting won't be tolerated.
The agency is "committed to protecting wildlife to ensure these and other natural resources are available for the next generation of forest visitors," she said.