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Macomb County Man Charged with Illegally Shooting Bear, Leaving 3 Cubs Orphaned

James Earl May, 33, will appear in 85th District Court on April 9.

A Macomb County man is charged with bear poaching, a crime that carries a restitution payment of $1,500 per bear, a minimum of a $200 fine and up to 90 days in jail. (Photo: Michigan DNR)
A Macomb County man is charged with bear poaching, a crime that carries a restitution payment of $1,500 per bear, a minimum of a $200 fine and up to 90 days in jail. (Photo: Michigan DNR)

A Macomb County man was arraigned recently in 85th District Court in Manistee County on charges of illegally taking a black bear without a permit and excessive use of deer bait. The charges stem from a Nov. 16 bear poaching incident in Manistee County during the firearm deer hunting season.

James Earl May, 33, allegedly shot and a bear and left it to die in the woods. May will appear at a pre-trial exam in 85th District Court on April 9.

Michigan conservation officer Carla Soper originally responded to a complaint of a black bear lying dead in the woods in Manistee County. While investigating the complaint, the DNR put out a statewide press release asking for information and May contacted the investigating officer shortly after as a result. Soper was able to interview him and present her case to the Manistee County prosecutor.

The Manistee County prosecutor’s office issued an arrest warrant for May on the charges of taking a bear without a permit and use of excessive deer bait. Conservation officer Kris Kiel arrested May at his Macomb County residence on March 2.

The bear had been found dead of a shotgun wound near a hunting blind on public land in Cleon Township. Witnesses said that the bear had been killed on Nov. 16 at approximately 5:30 p.m. Three bear cubs are believed to have been orphaned as a result of the bear being killed, although the cubs were not located.

Poaching bear in Michigan carries a restitution payment of $1,500 per bear, a minimum $200 fine and jail time of up to 90 days. In addition, a violator's hunting privileges may be suspended for up to three years.

The DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) Line is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to take information regarding any fish or game violations in Michigan. The number for the RAP Line is (800) 292-7800. Information also can be reported online at michigan.gov/conservationofficers. Information may be left anonymously, though information leading to an arrest and conviction is eligible for a cash reward funded by the Game and Fish Protection Fund.

Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Sandy McClure April 02, 2014 at 07:19 AM
Here's a crazy question, what if the bear was coming after him? What's he supposed to do? If you look up the definition if poaching, that's not what he did, especially if he was trying to save his own life. By leaving the bear to die in the woods, that is not "poaching". I am not a hunter but if you have to save your own life by shooting a black bear, that is a different story. This article has the guy tried and convicted.
Jeff Jaje April 02, 2014 at 09:03 AM
The dude is already giving ethical hunters a bad name with overuse of deer bait. There are many things ethical and skilled hunters can do for protection from bears before needing to shoot them in self defense. How many of those things did this dude do?
Karen April 02, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Ya Sandy, Kill. Always an excuse. If they could have saved the cubs...but no, the guy should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. So many hunters wound and leave the animal to die. It's sickening. He baited. that is enough. He asked for trouble but unfortunately the mother is dead an 3 cubs too, no doubt. He is SO wrong. Please, give him a tough sentence...it will not be harsh enough!!!!

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