YAKIMA — Authorities have accused a Yakima man of illegally killing a black bear and offering its skull for sale.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials opened their case against the 45-year-old man in June, when a Yakima resident found a cooler with four bear paws in it in a shared backyard, according to a probable cause statement.
Most of the claws, which the affidavit said were valuable in trading, were removed from the paws.
Witnesses said the suspect was seen in the area where the cooler was found the day before, the affidavit said. One resident in the area said the suspect had stayed with him after just coming out of the woods, the affidavit said.
The investigation continued as the DFW investigator was unable to locate the suspect. In January, the suspect was arrested on unrelated domestic-violence charges, the affidavit said, and the investigator further learned that the suspect had a bear skull that he had painted a metallic color and was going to sell.
A witness said the suspect had shot the bear with a .410 shotgun, the affidavit said, around Memorial Day, which was not in bear season.
The wildlife officer found the suspect’s Facebook page and a post offering to sell a bear’s skull for $100 just stripped of fur and flesh, or $250 for a painted one, the affidavit said. In a video in the post, a gold-colored skull is seen on a table, with a gun rack with two guns on it.
Wildlife officers executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home and found the painted black bear skull, a cow elk skull with jawbone pieces, a Rossi .410 shotgun with an interchangeable .22-caliber barrel, a .22-caliber rifle and shotgun ammunition.
Wildlife authorities said there was probable cause to arrest the suspect, who was already in jail, on suspicion of first-degree wildlife trafficking and two counts each of second-degree unlawful big game hunting and unlawful possession of a firearm. The latter stems from the suspect’s convictions for fourth-degree domestic violence assault and violating a no-contact order.
During a preliminary appearance hearing in Yakima County Superior Court, Judge Sonia Rodriguez True set bail at $5,000, in addition to the $6,000 bail that was set in Yakima Municipal Court on an unrelated domestic violence case.