killed grizzly bear

Othel Lee Pearson charged with illegally killing a bear

A Troy man, Othel Lee Pearson, was finally charged for his crimes of killing and disposing of grizzly bear body parts in 2020. He was charged with two counts and had to plead guilty. The man will also have to cooperate with the authorities regarding another grizzly bear killed around his property.

The 80-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of taking and not reporting a grizzly bear and one count of tampering with evidence. While these actions carry more than 20 years of prison time and over $200,000 in fines, due to his age, the prosecutors will recommend three years of probation. Federal prosecutors will also ask for an $8,000 fine for the illegal killing and removal of Pearson’s .270-caliber Winchester rifle.

Killed Grizzly Bear

On November 19, 2020, Other Lee Pearson shot the grizzly bear from his property. When he saw that the bear had a GPS tracker, he cut it and threw it down the Yaak River. Next, he cut the bear’s paws, lip tattoo, and ear tags, and stuffed them inside a hollow tree.

On November 23, 2020, the grizzly bear carcass was found by a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks warden. The US Forest Service warden indicated that the bear was missing paws and was partially skinned. The body was found on the road south of Yaak.

Once the GPS tracker was found on December 2nd, the authorities were able to access the bear’s data. According to the investigators, the bear died just before 9 PM. And was only 40 yards from Pearson’s home.

On December 16th a search warrant was served on Mr Pearson. While he denied shooting a bear, all the evidence was stacked against him. He has a room attached to his house with missing windows. There was also a riffle cartridge, empty deer feed bags, and feed dispensers attached to trees. They also found blood in the snow, animal tissue in his truck, and meat labeled “ham” in his freezer. When the meat was tested, the results showed that it belonged to the killed grizzly bear. His rifle was seized after Pearson’s neighbor said that the man admitted to killing a bear.

In April of 2022, a hiker found the remains of the bear inside a shallow tree. Once the remains were tested, it was confirmed that they belonged to the same bear. Did Pearson mean to get rid of the evidence or leave it inside the tree? What person kills a bear, removes their paws, and leaves evidence inside a tree on Forest Service land?

Othel Lee Pearson’s Plea Deal

On Monday, Pearson was charged for the two counts and signed the plea agreement. He will also need to cooperate about a second grizzly bear skull that was found in National Forest System land near his home. If he fails to do so or appeals his sentence, the government will charge him for “any counts dismissed or not charged under this plea agreement.”

In my opinion, Othel Lee Pearson got off easy due to his age. Who knows how long the man has been illegally killing bears and if there are more than just two victims of his cruelty.

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