Nine arrested for illegally baiting and abusing Florida black bears

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
MGN Online

State officials have arrested nine suspects after a year-long investigation into the illegal baiting, taking and molestation of Florida black bears by the use of dogs for commercial purposes.

“Not only were these gruesome acts of violence repulsive and cruel, they were recorded and posted to social media for the amusement of the defendants,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I doubt they are laughing any longer now that they have been arrested for serious crimes.”

“The actions revealed by this investigation are disturbing to me and to my fellow Commissioners. Speaking on behalf the Commission, these actions are not indicative of hunters and other conservationists, and I am grateful that our Division of Law Enforcement has worked diligently to bring their behavior to light. I look forward to Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution pursuing this case fervently and I thank them for their hard work on this case,” said FWC Chairman Robert Spottswood.

According to the investigation, the defendants lured black bears by placing drums of dog food, doughnuts, pastries and peanut butter in various areas throughout Baker, Flagler, Marion and Union counties. The defendants then used large packs of dogs to chase and maul the black bears.

“The FWC wholly condemns the acts by these nine individuals outlined by this investigation. As conservationists and ethical hunters, it is appalling to think about the callous disregard for common decency and our state’s precious natural resources shown by these violations. There is no place in Florida for these heinous acts,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton.

After some of the attacks, the suspects posted numerous videos of the acts on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In some of the videos, defendants can be seen forcing the bears to a waiting pack of approximately a dozen dogs that then repeatedly bit the bears. None of the individuals involved tried to call off the dogs or stop the attack on the bears. The Office of Statewide Prosecution obtained warrants for social media accounts where the defendants posted videos of the attacks.

The FWC became aware of one of the bear killings by the group in Union County. FWC personnel set up game cameras to monitor the area for similar activity.

Law enforcement officials arrested the following individuals in connection to the crimes:

  • Christopher Elliot Haun, 42, Ormond Beach, Fla.
  • William Landrum, 39, Millboro, Va.
  • Mark Lindsey, 26, Moultrie, Ga.
  • Dustin Reddish, 25, Lake Butler, Fla.
  • Haley Reddish, 25, Lake Butler, Fla.
  • Charles Luther Scarbrough III, 30, Callahan, Fla.
  • Hannah Weiner Scarbrough, 27, Callahan, Fla.
  • Troy Travis Starling, 45, Lake Butler, Fla.
  • William Tyler Wood, 29, Lake Butler, Fla.

All nine suspects 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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