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9 charged with baiting bears, letting dogs attack them

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the arrests at ZooTampa.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Wednesday that nine people have been arrested in an 11-month investigation into black bear abuse.

Bondi made the announcement at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Bondi said the defendants lured the bears by placing food like large amounts of dog food, peanut butter and donuts, then used large packs of hounds to chase and maul the bears. The group then posted photos and video to social media. 

They called the baiting events "Sunday Funday," officials said.

Cubs were sometimes victimized. When bears climbed up trees, the defendants would hit the tree to get the animals to fall down so the dogs could get them. In one instance, someone climbed a tree to knock the bear down.

“This is not hunting. This is not a sport. It’s cruelty to animals,” Bondi said.

The defendants went to Krispy Kreme in the middle of the night to take donuts out of their dumpsters to bait the bears, Bondi said.

The baiting took place in several counties on public and private lands, officials said.

Videos of the abuse were shown at the news conference. Participants could be heard laughing. No attempts to stop the abuse were seen or heard.

Bondi said the events were done for profit, and some of the dogs were sold using the videos to show how aggressive they were.

Officials do not know how many bears were victimized. 

Hunting black bears in Florida is illegal.

Arrested were: 

  • William Tyler Wood, 29, of Lake Butler, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, four counts of animal cruelty, littering, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • Dustin Reddish, 25, of Lake Butler, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, three counts of animal cruelty, littering, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • Haley Reddish, 25, of Lake Butler, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, three counts of animal cruelty, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • Mark Lindsey, 26, of Moultrie, Georgia, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, three counts of animal cruelty, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, littering, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • Charles Luther Scarbrough II, 30, of Callahan, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, two counts of animal cruelty, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • Hannah Weiner Scarbrough, 27, of Callahan, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, animal cruelty, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • Christopher Elliot Haun, 42, of Ormond Beach charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, littering, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • William Edward Landrum, 39, of Millboro, Virginia, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, animal fighting or baiting, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and unlawful taking of a black bear
  • Troy Travis Starling, 45, of Lake Butler, charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission took part in the investigation.

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