(WBIR) A Maryville man, described by a wildlife officer as "one of the worst of the worst" wildlife offenders was sentenced in court this week.
TWRA said in a release that Chris Caughron, 23, plead guilty Friday to felony and misdemeanor charges related to his involvement in illegally killing a 400-pound black bear during the closed season last year.
Back in April, he was also convicted of felony reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon and hunting from a public roadway after he pulled off the road on Pellissippi parkway in December and shot at a trophy-buck deer. A TWRA Sgt. had also pulled off the road to look at the deer and witnessed the incident. Caughron's shot was also in the TWRA Sgt.'s direction.
Both those incidents came after he had already had his hunting privileges revoked because of illegal hunting in Illinois. That meant he was prohibited from hunting in Tennessee because of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. This compact means that if a person has had their hunting privileges revoked in a member state, then their privileges are revoked in all participating states.
A Blount County Judge found the 23-year-old guilty of criminal littering, use of bait to hunt black bear, killing bear in closed season, and refusing inspection.
Caughron received judicial diversion, $375 in fines plus court costs and 40 hours of community service. The Blount County judge also ordered his hunting and fishing privileges be suspended for two more years. That brings his total revoked privileges to seven years.
In TWRA's release, Blount County Wildlife Officer Jeff Pearce is quoted as saying "This was a collaborative effort between Tennessee and Illinois Wildlife Officers to catch and punish one of the worst of the worst offenders. Caughron and other poachers are thieves of the wildlife and fisheries resources of the citizens of Tennessee and will be prosecuted as such," Pearce said.
He continued to say that officers will continue to apprehend and prosecute these criminals.