Nine Arrested for Illegally Baiting Black Bears

The Florida Attorney General's Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the arrests of nine individuals.

The arrests came after what officials described as a year-long investigation into the illegal baiting, taking and molestation of Florida black bears by the use of dogs for commercial purposes.

The announcement was made Wednesday.

According to the investigation, the defendants lured black bears by placing drums of dog food, donuts, pastries and peanut butter in various areas throughout Baker, Flagler, Marion and Union counties. 

The defendants then allefgedly used large packs of dogs to chase and maul the black bears.

Investigators say after some of the attacks, the defendants posted numerous videos of the acts on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. 

In some of the videos, authorities say defendants could be seen forcing the bears to a waiting pack of approximately a dozen dogs that then repeatedly bit the bears. 

Authorities say that the videos revealed that none of the individuals involved tried to call off the dogs or stop the attack on the bears. 

The Office of Statewide Prosecution says it obtained warrants for social media accounts where the defendants posted videos of the attacks.

Investigators with the FWC say they became aware of one of the bear killings by the group in Union County. 

FWC personnel say they set up game cameras to monitor the area for similar activity.

Authorities say all nine defendants face various charges including animal cruelty, animal fighting or baiting, conspiracy to commit racketeering, littering, unlawful taking of black bears, and the unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution Assistant Statewide Prosecutors Kelly McKnight and Diane Croff will prosecute the defendants.

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