Man sentenced for illegal black bear kill

The man shot and killed a black bear in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The badge for the Alaska State Troopers

The badge for the Alaska State Troopers

A Florida man has been found guilty of killing and harvesting a black bear in an area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge closed to all hunting and trapping, according to a Tuesday press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

James Connolly, 63, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was sentenced on Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew Scoble to pay a fine of $8,000, forfeit the black bear hide he harvested and serve a two-year probation for violating the Lacey Act, during which he will be prohibited from hunting anywhere in the United States.

Connolly shot and killed a black bear on May 17, 2018 in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, according to court documents, where all hunting and trapping is prohibited. After killing the bear, Connolly transported the bear carcass from Alaska to a tannery in California, where it was then shipped to Connolly in Florida.

During the investigation, witnesses reported seeing remains of the black bear on Skilak Lake Loop Road, and others reported that Connolly told them of the kill while he was in the area.

Law enforcement officers conducting the investigation also matched DNA samples of the blood from the kill site with DNA samples taken from the carcass in Connolly’s possession.

Evidence collected by now-retired Federal Wildlife Canine Rex played a “vital role” in the investigation, according to the press release.

Scoble noted during the sentencing that Connolly’s actions were “particularly abhorrent” given the fact that Alaska offers many areas for the legal hunting of black bears.

The investigation was a coordinated effort from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS Office of Law Enforcement, the Florida Wildlife Commission and Federal Wildlife Officers in Alaska, Florida and North Carolina. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Cavanaugh prosecuted the case.

More in News

Copies of the Peninsula Clarion are photographed on Friday, June 21, 2024. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Announcing a new Peninsula Clarion print schedule

Our last Wednesday edition will be delivered June 26.

A bucket of recently caught sockeye salmon rests on the sand while anglers seek to fill it further at the mouth of the Kasilof River on Monday, June 26, 2023, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnetting in Kasilof opens Tuesday

Dipnetting will be allowed at all times until Aug. 7

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Fish and Game restricts bait on Kasilof, Ninilchik Rivers

The use of bait on the rivers will begin Friday and extend to July 15 in Ninilchik, July 31 in Kasilof

A man fishes in the Kenai River on July 16, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion/file)
Slow sockeye fishing on Kenai, Russian Rivers

Northern Kenai Fishing Report for June 20

Alaska Department of Fish and Game logo. (Graphic by Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Bag limits doubled for sockeye salmon in Resurrection Bay

The increase is effective from June 21 to July 31

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Girl Scout Troop 210, which includes Caitlyn Eskelin, Emma Hindman, Kadie Newkirk and Lyberty Stockman, present their “Bucket Trees” to a panel of judges in the 34th Annual Caring for the Kenai Competition at Kenai Central High School on Thursday, April 18.
Caring for the Kenai winners receive EPA award

Winning team of the 34th annual Caring for the Kenai was selected for the President’s Environmental Youth Award

Norm Blakely speaks to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves resolution guiding efforts to increase voter turnout

The Voter Turnout Working Group was established to explore options and ideas aimed at increasing voter participation

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Update: Bodies of 2 men retrieved from submerged plane in wake of reported Moose Pass crash

A pair of hikers witnessed and reported the crash around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, trooper say

Most Read