PETITION TARGET: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
UPDATE (6/20/2023): Nine people have been arrested and sentenced.
Haley Reddish, 25, pleaded guilty to the illegal hunting of bears, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit RICO Act violation, using animal to fight or bait another animal, three counts of felony cruelty to animals, unlawful use of two-way communications device to facilitate, and unlawful taking of black bear and can receive between 18 months to four years in prison. Her probation cannot exceed 10 years, according to news reports.
William Tyler Wood, 29, pleaded guilty to five counts of felony cruelty to animals and one count each of conspiracy to commit RICO Act violation, using animal to fight or bait another animal, felony littering, unlawful use of two-way communications device to facilitate, and unlawful taking of black bear. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail and 10 years of probation, according to the Ocala Star Banner.
Charles Luther Scarbrough III, 30, pleaded guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal baiting and fighting, unlawful use of a two-way communicating device and unlawful taking of a black bear, with a sentence that could range from could be anywhere from five years of probation to 25 months in prison, according to news reports.
Hannah Weiner Scarbrough, 27, pleaded guilty and was ordered to serve five years and three months of probation on charges of unlawful taking of a black bear and unlawful use of a communication device. She also must pay $3,850.23 to the state for prosecution costs and $22,847 to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission $22,847 for their investigation, according to news reports. She also cannot breed dogs or return to the Ocala National Forest.
Christopher Elliot Haun, 42, of Ormond Beach, was adjudicated guilty on charges of conspiracy to violate the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act violation, using an animal to fight or bait another animal, felony littering and unlawful taking of black bear, for which he was sentenced to eight years probation, during which he may not own dogs or firearms, according to the Ocala Star Banner.
William Landrum, 39 of Millboro, Va., pleaded guilty to charges of using animal to fight or bait another animal, unlawful use of two-way communications device to facilitate, and unlawful taking of black bear and was sentenced to serve five years of probation, during which he cannot hunt or use hunting dogs in Florida, is forbidden to enter the Ocala National Forest, must forfeit all items seized in evidence, and must complete 200 hours of community service. He also must pay $4,688.43 for cost of prosecution and $10,000 for costs of the investigation to the State Game Trust Fund, to be used by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, according to the Ocala Star Banner.
Mark Lindsey, 26, of Moultrie, Ga, must serve a 270-day jail sentence and then eight years of probation, during which he can’t hunt, have hunting dogs, or go to the Ocala National Forest, according to terms of his plea deal, according to the Ocala Star Banner.
The final two sentenced: Dustin Reddish, 25, was sentenced to 180 days in jail and five years of probation. Troy Starling was sentenced to five years probation. Both men cannot hunt, have hunting dogs, or enter the Ocala National Forest during their probation, and each was ordered to pay more than $22,000 of fines to FWC for the cost of the investigation.
We’re grateful this case was taken seriously and thank everyone who signed our petition. —Lady Freethinker Staff
Florida authorities have arrested nine people accused of running a sickening operation that had black bears chased, tortured and killed by packs of hunting dogs throughout various counties in the state.
Footage shared on social media reveals the depth of torture experienced by the bears, with one heartbreaking video showing a terrified, exhausted black bear attempting to escape up a tree before falling to the ground and being mauled to death by at least a dozen frenzied dogs.
Bears as young as one week old were savaged in these brutal attacks, the majestic animals so overwhelmed by the sheer number of dogs they were unable to fight back.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says their investigation found that two bears died as a direct result of the baiting and hunting, but authorities suspect many more were killed over the last year.
The nearly year-long investigation discovered the group using buckets of peanut butter, dog food, and stolen donuts to bait the bears before ordering the dogs to attack the helpless animals. Many of the incidents were filmed and used as “advertising” to sell hunting dogs. Florida county authorities have confiscated 53 dogs used in the operation.
It is illegal to hunt bears in Florida, and the perpetrators have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors including animal cruelty, illegally baiting and taking black bears, and RICO violations. Each person accused may face at least 30 years in prison.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and local authorities should be commended for taking this case seriously so far and working to shut down the operation. Sign this petition encouraging her to see this case through to justice, and push for a lifelong ban on the hunting or keeping of any animal for all found guilty.