Mississippi Black Bear Poacher Guilty -- Began Serving Jail Time in January 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2009
Tom MacKenzie, USFWS, 404-679-7291
Jim Walker, MDWFP, 601-432- 2250
While Darryl Eubanks of Lucedale, Mississippi was deer hunting in 2007, he killed a Mississippi black bear, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and protected by the State of Mississippi as a rare and threatened animal.
On Dec. 22, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett, Southern District, Hattiesburg Federal District Court, sentenced Eubanks to 30 days in jail, a $5,000 fine, and $10,000 restitution payable to the Bear Education and Restoration (BEAR) Group of Mississippi. In addition, Eubanks is prohibited from hunting during one year of supervised release probation. He will also pay a $50 special assessment fee and perform 50 hours of community service at a wildlife refuge. Eubanks began serving his jail time on Jan. 6, 2009.
“Anyone involved in the illegal killing of Mississippi black bears, protected by the Endangered Species Act, will be vigorously pursued by state and federal agents,” said Robert T. Oliveri, Resident Agent in Charge with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In January of 2008, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service learned that a black bear carcass was found in south Mississippi and started a joint investigation.
After conducting numerous interviews, investigators learned that Eubanks shot and killed a Mississippi Black Bear in 2007, then cut the paw off the bear and showed it to several people. Later, Eubanks loaded the bear remains in a trailer and dumped it in the woods.
Although he later denied any knowledge of his role in killing the Mississippi black bear, evidence was presented to a federal grand jury. On May 7, 2008, Eubanks was indicted by the federal grand jury on four counts. He was charged with killing the black bear in violation of the Endangered Species Act, transporting the black bear in violation of the Lacey Act, giving a false statement to federal agents in connection to the investigation, and obstruction of justice for tampering with a material witness to a federal investigation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agents and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Conservation Officers later arrested Eubanks.
On October 8, 2008, Eubanks appeared before United States District Judge Keith Starrett, in Hattiesburg, Miss., and pled guilty. Eubanks agreed to plead guilty to a violation of the Endangered Species Act for killing the Black Bear, and a Lacey Act misdemeanor charge, and was sentenced on Dec. 22, 2008. As part of the plea agreement, the government moved to dismiss the charge of giving a false statement to a federal agent, and the charge of obstruction of justice for tampering with a material witness.
In 1932, black bears were given statewide protection in Mississippi because there were less than twelve black bears remaining in the state. In 1974, the black bear was included on the Mississippi’s first list of rare and threatened animals. In 1992, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared the Mississippi black bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov and http://www.fws.gov/southeast.