An Oregon man ended up shelling out thousands of dollars to pay fines after a Wyoming game warden refused to buy his sweet-and-salty tale about supposed “bear bait.”
The man was holed up in a blind with a crossbow and had set up a salt lick, as well as spread a commercial brand of deer-bait molasses over a nearby stump. When the warden started grilling him over what obviously had to be bait for deer and elk, the man at first tried to lie and say he was trying to bait black bears.
That’s according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s recently released 2022 Law Enforcement report, which doesn’t name the suspect.
In April of that year, the suspect was found guilty in Teton County court of violating bear hunting regulations and illegally baiting big game. He was slapped with more than $2,000 in fines and lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for two years.
Wyoming participates in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, so the loss of privileges in one state also applies in the other 48 participating states. Hawaii is the only state not included.
Couldn’t Bear To Tell The Truth
The prior fall, the Jackson-based game warden got a report that somebody was trying to illegally bait big game in the remote Beaver Mountain area southeast of Hoback Junction in the Willow Creek Drainage.
The warden rode into the site on horseback and found the suspect hunkered in a ground blind with a crossbow.
He called the suspect out of the blind, and the man produced an Oregon driver’s license, as well as nonresident elk and black bear licenses.
The warden started grilling the suspect, telling him that it’s illegal to bait elk in Wyoming. The man said the salt, as well as the molasses poured over a nearby stump, was to bait bears, not elk.
The warden didn’t buy that story.
Salt For A Bear? That Doesn’t Track
“The warden explained that he has never seen a black bear hunter use salt to bait bears,” according the report. “However, salt bait is highly attractive to both deer and elk. The commercial deer attractant the suspect was using, molasses Stump Likker, is commonly used for attracting deer because of its sweet smell and taste.”
Moreover, even if the man was using the molasses in hopes of drawing in a bear, he wasn’t doing it properly, according to the Game and Fish report.
“If the suspect was trying to use this as a black bear bait site, the molasses would need to be properly placed in a barrel, not poured onto a stump as in this case. In combination, the location and bait used was only practical for targeting deer and elk,” the report states.
In addition to a citation for illegally baiting big game, the Oregon man was ticketed for violating bear baiting regulations by not having the bait in a proper container, and not registering his bait site.
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.