By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
A man who admitted to poaching a grizzly bear outside of Yellowstone National Park was suitably punished when he lost his hunting privileges for the rest of his life, according to an official with a Wyoming wildlife group.
Josh Coursey, co-chairman of Gov. Mark Gordon’s Wyoming Wildlife Task Force, said the punishment handed down for the Idaho man who pleaded guilty to charges connected to the shooting of the grizzly in March 2021 was appropriate. The grizzly was shot more than a dozen times.
“These are criminals,” Coursey told Cowboy State Daily. “This case was littered with criminal intent from the onset.”
Jared Baum, of Ashton, Idaho, pleaded guilty to the unlawful killing of wildlife in March, 2021. The death of the female grizzly also resulted in the death of her male cub who died in its den after its mother’s death.
Baum’s father, Rex, pleaded guilty to lesser crimes and is prohibited from hunting for a decade, must pay more than $1,000 in fines and serve three days in jail.
According to a report from the Idaho Fish and Game department, Jared told authorities he mistook the grizzly for a black bear. However, the shooting was illegal in any case because it took place outside of bear hunting season. Self-defense was not offered as a motivation.
Further, Baum shot the bear with a handgun.
“Nobody shoots a bear with a handgun unless it’s self-defense, which they never claimed,” Coursey said. “This was a joy-kill.”
According to the Idaho Fish and Game Department, the dead grizzly was discovered on April 9, 2021 after a mortality signal emanated from its radio collar.
Investigators discovered the bear’s carcass half submerged in the Little Warm River, about 15 miles from Yellowstone.
A bullet was retrieved from the rib cage of the bear and X-rays later revealed 12 additional bullets lodged in the animal.
“Jared then told officers that he had tracked the bear and thought he had shot it 40 times as it was running downstream towards the Little Warm River,” a report from the Idaho Game and Fish said. “After Jared saw that it was a grizzly, he said he realized he had shot her too many times and she was going to die, so he finished her.”
The report said when Jared realized that the bear was collared, he disposed of the two handguns used to commit the crime in a pond.
Still Dealing With Poaching
Coursey, who also serves as CEO of the Muley Fanatic Foundation, a conservation group that focuses primarily on mule deer, said it’s disturbing to him that in the 21st century, poaching is still an issue.
“Wildlife belongs to the people,” Coursey said. “This is outright theft.”
He said he understands why the issue can get contentious at times when people claim they poach because they need to put food on the table, but added laws are laws and need to be heeded.
“At the end of the day, we have rules and we have law and order and it is required that we follow these rules,” he said “It is for the good of our citizenship as human beings and as Americans.”
Although the penalty fit the crime in this instance, overall, Coursey said laws may need to be enhanced to reduce instances of poaching.
“This is the only crime, that I’m aware of, that is committed with a firearm where it is not a felony,” Coursey said.
“Until we put a deterrent in place that really slams this as unacceptable and unwanted behavior, I think we’ll never really curb the real consequences of what we’re seeing with poaching all over the West and in Wyoming, in particular,” he said.